We were at an initial dog training lesson last Monday in Marietta with a new Home Dog Training Client and his Coonhound puppy named Jebediah. Our client had just picked up Jebediah last week and he had just turned eleven weeks old. Because of this, he was in need of our “soup to nuts puppy training package”. We started off by discussing all the steps that were needed to properly potty train the puppy. We then emphasized the importance of socialization and the steps they would need to implement to show their leadership.
We discussed the standard behaviors that puppies exhibit, how to interpret their meaning, and what our client and his family must do to properly respond. After all that, we practiced some rudimentary obedience exercises. Our client and his family were thrilled with everything they had learned and were anxious to start Jebediah off on the right paw. As we were finishing up, they said they had not picked a Veterinarian for Jebediah yet and if we had any suggestions.
I began my response by stating that picking the best Veterinarian for any puppy or dog is a very personal decision. It involves a great deal of due diligence, careful thought, and insightful observation.
The most perfect vet in the world for one dog and his family may be the absolute worse choice for another dog and his family. I told my client that his first step is to create a list of all the possible Veterinarians in the general area. I recommended that he use the following actions to create the list:
- Check with His Neighbors Who Have Dogs: Being that we are in North Georgia, I am positive that many of his neighbors are dog owners and have Veterinarians for their dogs. Hopefully, their neighbors performed proper due diligence before they finally settled on their dog’s Veterinarian. It may have even taken two or three “switches” until they found the right vet. I told him to first ask neighbors who have dogs similar to Jebediah. If not the same breed, the dogs should be roughly the same age, size, and temperament as Jebediah. He should also take into account the neighbor’s disposition. Don’t take the advice of a crazy neighbor.
- Get in Touch with the Local Humane Society or County Shelter: The local shelters are an excellent resource when it comes to pet services in the area. See who they use to provide health services for the dogs they have in the shelter. It is also a great idea to ask the volunteers in the shelter what Veterinarian they use for their dogs.
- Check with the Local Pet Stores: Over the years I have discovered that many pet stores have their “go-to” Veterinarians for all their pets. This makes perfect sense because they want to only offer healthy pets for sale to the public. Many of the employees in these stores are also pet lovers and dog owners. I would also ask them who they personally use for their dog.
- Canvas the Feed and Grain Stores: Being in North Georgia, we have many feed and grain stores in the area. In addition to all the farm and ranch products they stock, they normally have a large area devoted to animals and pets. Talk to the employees to get their recommendations for good, local Veterinarians.
- Perform an Internet Search: Although I always take anything I see on the Internet with a “grain of salt”, checking the Internet provides another source of information to be analyzed. Perform a Google or Duck Duck Go search for “vet hospitals” in your area and read the reviews. Focus on the newer reviews for the most relevant information. Don’t focus on the “number of stars”, but what the reviewer actually said about their experience. Don’t focus on “how the review felt”, but what actually took place during the visit.
- Call Your Old Vet: If you have just moved, your old vet may have some friends or classmates in the area. This is probably the best information you will receive in this process.
Except with the “Internet Search Option”, I reminded my client to always make sure he ascertained “why the person liked the vet”. Make sure that their reasons for “liking the vet” make sense to you.
If he followed my process, my client now has a good list of possible Veterinarians for Jebediah. It is now time to move onto the interview process.
Many Veterinarians allow for “Meet and Greet” appointments where you can check out their facilities, meet the staff, and talk with the vet. These sessions are normally free because the vet sees this as a marketing tool to gain more patients. Other Veterinarians will only meet you and your dog if you schedule something like a paid wellness check.
I told my client to start off with the hospitals that would allow for a free “Meet and Greet”. If he hasn’t found a vet he “absolutely loves”, then he should visit the vets that require a paid visit.
Here are the things he should look for during the visit: (I suggested that he get to each appointment about fifteen minutes early.)
- Are he and his dog met “with a smile” by the vet staff when he walks through the door and up to the check-in desk?
- Does the vet come into the lobby to greet them? Is he taken back to the examination room or the Veterinarian’s office at the time of his appointment?
- How does Jebediah respond to the vet techs, the Veterinarian, and the general environment? Does the vet spend time focusing on Jebediah in order to build a trustworthy bond?
- How does my client feel about the vet’s general nature with him and Jebediah?
- It is important that my client meets with as many vet techs in the hospital as possible. They will be the ones that will probably be spending the most time with Jebediah when he would be there.
- Is it a “full service” hospital or would they send Jebediah to other hospitals for specific issues?
- When is the hospital open? What is their procedure when Jebediah needs to come in and they are closed?
- Do they have a standard price list that you can review? Is there a “minimum hospital visit” fee?
- Are there any special deals such as “half price immunization days”?
- Does my client get the feel that “everyone in the hospital loves dogs”? (I know this is a strange question, but my experience has shown that there are some hospitals that are more interested in running up a large bill than doing what is best for the dog. Sad, but true.)
When my client sees that Jebediah feels relaxed in the hospital and he is getting a “warm and fuzzy”, he has probably found a “good fit”. When that happens, it is time to give that hospital and that Veterinarian a try. The worst case is that he discovers that the vet isn’t for him. In that case, he can easily look for another.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and great families and are ready to help you.