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This article is aimed at animal practitioners to provide advice on how to maximise client cooperation with their recommended treatment programme.
Animal behaviour consultants play a crucial role in assisting pet owners in addressing and modifying their animals’ problematic behaviours. However, achieving client cooperation and ensuring the successful implementation of behavioural programmes can sometimes be challenging. This article provides five essential tips for animal behaviour consultants to maximise their effectiveness in helping clients achieve cooperation with their pet’s behavioural programme.
5 Top tips to enhance effectiveness in achieving client cooperation
- Build Rapport and Establish Trust: Building a strong rapport with clients is fundamental to gaining their trust and cooperation. Take the time to listen actively, empathise with their concerns, and show genuine interest in their pet’s well-being. Effective communication and active listening skills are essential in understanding clients’ needs and addressing any apprehensions they may have. Establishing trust early on will foster a collaborative partnership and enhance client compliance with the recommended behavioural program.
- Educate and Set Realistic Expectations: It is vital to educate clients about the underlying causes of their pet’s behaviour issues and the process involved in modifying them. Provide clear explanations about the behavioural programme, including the expected timeline, potential challenges, and milestones. Setting realistic expectations regarding the duration and complexity of behaviour modification can help clients stay motivated and committed to the process. By being transparent and ensuring clients are well-informed, consultants can minimise frustrations and foster a positive working relationship.
- Tailor the Programme to Suit the Client: Every client and their pet are unique, so it is crucial to tailor the behavioural programme to their specific needs, lifestyle, and capabilities. Consider factors such as the client’s available time, resources, and their pet’s individual temperament. A personalised approach increases the likelihood of successful implementation and client cooperation. By working collaboratively with clients, consultants can develop realistic goals and strategies that align with their abilities, ensuring a higher chance of achieving desired outcomes.
- Provide Clear and Concise Instructions: Clear and concise instructions are essential for clients to effectively implement the behavioural programme. Avoid jargon and technical terms, using simple language that clients can easily understand. If you are going to use technical terms, then explain what this means in plain English. And, break down complex tasks into manageable steps, this should include providing clients with written instructions and or visual aids when necessary. Cater for different learning styles and preferences. Reinforce the importance of consistency and adherence to the prescribed techniques. Regularly check in with clients to ensure they fully understand your instructions and address any concerns or uncertainties promptly.
- Offer Ongoing Support and Follow-Up: Behaviour modification is an ongoing process that requires continuous support. Provide clients with resources, such as handouts, recommended reading materials, or access to online communities or support groups. Regularly follow up with clients to assess progress, address challenges, and provide additional guidance if needed. Celebrate successes and acknowledge their efforts, as positive reinforcement can boost client motivation and cooperation. Ongoing support and follow-up help clients stay engaged and committed to the behavioural program, maximising the chances of long-term success.
Achieving client cooperation is crucial for animal behaviour consultants to effectively help pet owners address behavioural issues. By building rapport, setting realistic expectations, tailoring the treatment programme, providing clear instructions, and offering ongoing support, consultants can enhance client cooperation and increase the likelihood of successful behaviour modification. These tips, combined with effective communication and empathy, will strengthen the consultant-client relationship and contribute to positive outcomes for both pets and their owners.
Want to learn more? Check out my Learning Hub which includes courses aimed at animal professionals to develop their knowledge and understanding about human-animal interactions and improve the client-animal practitioner relationship, to increase the success of behaviour/training modification programmes and client cooperation.
- Todd, Z. (2017). The importance of rapport and relationship in behavior consultations. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 21, 53-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2017.08.004
- O’Heare, J. (2013). How to train: A practical guide for animal trainers (3rd ed.). Dogwise Publishing.
- Martin, D. E., & Martin, P. (2018). Handbook of applied dog behavior and training: Procedures and protocols (Vol. 3). Wiley.
- Landsberg, G., Hunthausen, W., & Ackerman, L. (2018). Handbook of behavior problems of the dog and cat (3rd ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences.