Robin and I were in Woodstock last Wednesday morning with a new Home Dog Training Client and his Catahoula puppy named Ranger. Ranger had just turned twelve-weeks-old and was in need of potty training, socialization, appropriate behavior, and beginning obedience. In a nutshell, he needed “everything”.
We reviewed all the steps our client needed to perform to have Ranger potty trained and detailed the normal points of success and failure in potty training. We explained the importance of socialization and the actions our client needed to enact so that Ranger understood that our client and his family members were in charge and keeping Ranger safe.
Next, Robin and I discussed the classic behaviors that puppies display, what they mean, and how the family would need to respond. Our client was very happy with all the training and information he had received. He was thrilled that he now knew how to teach Ranger how to be a great puppy for the family. As we were finishing up, he had one mor question. They hadn’t picked a Veterinarian for Ranger and asked if we had any suggestions.
We told our client that choosing the best Veterinarian for Ranger is an important and very personal decision. It is a decision that needs to be made carefully and thoughtfully. What could be the most appropriate Veterinarian for one dog and dog owner may not be the best choice for another dog and dog owner. We told him that he should first make a list of all the Veterinarians in his area. Most people simply Google to find stuff. This is great to find the local Mexican Restaurant, but picking a veterinarian is much more important and needs more consideration and a better process. We suggested that he use the following steps to create the list:
- Figure Out Who the Neighbors Use for their Vet: Up here in North Georgia almost everyone has a dog. All these dogs need veterinarians. Let’s assume that our client’s neighbors “didn’t use Google” to pick their dog’s veterinarian. Even if they did, they would have changed to a better one after two or three visits. Using this as our “working theory”, we proposed that our client ask all his neighbors who have dogs that are about the same age, size, and temperament of Ranger who they use. We also recommended that he might skip the neighbors who he thinks may be “a little crazy”.
- Call the local Humane Society: The local rescue organizations and animal shelters are an excellent resource for information about trustworthy pet services. We told our client to ask the organizations what veterinarian (or veterinarians) they use for the shelter. We also suggested that ask the volunteers who are working in the shelters for the names of the veterinarians they use for their personal dogs.
- Contact the Local Pet Stores: Many pet stores have their own veterinarians that care for the dogs and cats they have for sale. Since it is in their best interest to keep their animals in tip-top health, they would naturally want to use top quality veterinarians. As with the Humane Society personnel, we also suggest that our client ask the store employees who they use for their pets.
- Check Out the Feed and Grain Stores: Since we are in North Georgia, there are a lot of feed and grain stores nearby. Besides all the farm and ranch products they stock, they also have large pet sections. Although our client may not get as many answers from the employees in these stores, it never hurts to ask.
- Go to Your Computer and try Google: Yes, I know that I already said that Google is not the best choice to find important stuff, but it never hurts to check it out. “Google” “Veterinarian Hospitals Near Me”. Next, carefully read the reviews. Since veterinarians and employees at these hospitals come and go, look for reviews that are less than a year old. Don’t put your only focus on the “Stars”. Look to see what the reviewer actually wrote.
- Ask Your Old Vet: If you have just moved from another area and your old veterinarian is “just too far away”, he would probably be happy to give you a recommendation. Most of the time, this is the absolute best way to find the right veterinarian for you.
Now that our client has assembled a directory of possible veterinarians for Ranger, it is time to interview the veterinarians and check out the hospitals. Most hospitals allow you to come in for a simple “meet and greet” with the veterinarian and the staff. This is the best way to start, and we told our client to start off with the hospitals that would allow for a “simple meet and greet”. When he and Ranger go for each interview, we suggested that he focuses on the following items:
- Are they welcomed “with a smile” at the front desk when they first arrive?
- Does the veterinarian actually come out to meet them and is the appointment on time?
- How does Ranger respond to the veterinarian, the staff, and the hospital environment? Does the vet show an interest and spend quality time with Ranger? Do they appear to be “best friends”?
- Does our client “feel comfortable” with the vet’s demeanor?
- We told our client that he should also ask to meet the rest of the staff. Even though Ranger met with one or two technicians and the vet at the initial meeting, he may encounter other staff members on subsequent visits. His demeanor around all the staff is critical if our client decides to choose this veterinarian as his new doctor.
- Is the hospital “full service” or do they have affiliates they refer their clients to when there are specific problems? There is no “right or wrong” answer here. Just be sure that if Ranger does have a medical issue they can’t address, they have a robust referral network.
- Are the Hospital hours convenient for our client? What happens if Ranger has a problem when they are closed?
- What do they charge for the procedures he expects Ranger to need the most? Do they have minimum charges for Ranger to come in for a visit?
- Do they offer any special services such as “discount shot programs”?
- Finally, does everyone in the hospital feel like they “really like dogs”? (I know this is a strange question, but I have experienced some hospitals where they are focused on profits and not the dog.)
The bottom line with all of this is if our client “feels good” when he takes Ranger to the Vet. Although we gave him a lot of things to do and to ask, it always gets down to his “gut feel”. When he gets that “happy feel” with a vet, pick that vet as his first choice. We told him that although picking a vet should not be taken lightly, he can always change later if things just don’t work out.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.