The other day I stopped by a new vet’s office to buy some flea meds. While I was there I asked the office manager if I could leave some business cards. She replied that I certainly could and pointed me to a table in the corner that already had a plethora of cards and info. After I had added my cards, almost as an afterthought she asked:
“And how much do you charge?”
The question caught me off guard – not that I was unwilling to answer, and I did so, but I had never been asked that as the first and only question.
As I drove away I realized that in some way this lady hit the nail unfortunately right on the head. Most veterinarian offices (and veterinarians) are so busy that they do not feel that they can take the time to fool with peripheral things like dog trainers. Yes, they gladly refer and of course want their clients to have a good training experience at a reasonable cost, but beyond that the general consensus is that all trainers are pretty much the same, so what difference does it make?
But given the fact that the number one cause of death for dogs under the age of 2 is behavioral problems, it would seem in the vet’s best interest to refer their client’s dog to a trainer that they personally know has the knowledge to serve their client’s needs.
Just like in any profession, there are good and not so good trainers. Any good trainer will welcome the opportunity to be “grilled” by the veterinarians and their staff about how they train and what they know.
I have had a few (-sadly only a few) vets who took the time out of their busy schedule to sit down with me and talk to me about my training methods, background and philosophy.
I had one vet who gave me a list of behaviors that she encounters and quizzed me on how I would handle them. What a great idea! That tells me that this vet is not only involved the physical wellbeing of her fur clients, but is also invested in their overall quality of life.
Is money one aspect of the equation? – Absolutely! But it should not stop there. Does the trainer you recommend truly have the credentials? Do they take continuing education or do they find that unnecessary? Can they offer several solutions for a particular problem?
So this is my advice: If you are a vet – take the time to pick a trainer that you feel good about referring to – your referral can be the difference between an owner surrender (and worse) and a long, sucessful human/canine relationship.
For the client: Before you pick up that card ask the staff if they actually know anything about this person’s training methods, or are they just a friendly face that comes by every once in a while, dropping off cards