Trust and confidence form the cornerstone of any successful relationship between a dog behaviorist and their client. The first consultation sets the tone for future interactions and can significantly influence the course of the behavioral training program. It is during this initial meeting that the behaviorist can assure clients of their expertise, gain their trust, and inspire confidence.
The following guide adopts a three-pronged approach – Listening, Practical, and Issue Theory & QnA – to help dog behaviorists conduct their first consultations effectively and create a favorable and trustworthy impression on their clients.
i. Listening to Every Detail:
Listening attentively to your client’s descriptions of their issues is the first step to understanding the challenges they’re facing with their dog. This display of genuine interest builds trust, as it shows you value their input and are eager to provide a personalized solution.
ii. Asking Relevant Questions:
While you need to maintain a listening mode, you should also ask pertinent questions to delve deeper into any issue. However, ensure that your questions aim at gaining more clarity rather than appearing as an attempt to educate the client in this phase.
iii. Demonstrating Practical Application:
After understanding the issue, show your expertise and reliability by demonstrating how you’ll work on it. This provides an initial insight into your practical approach and builds confidence in your abilities.
i. Creating a Connection through Walk:
Taking the dog for a walk is an excellent method of establishing a rapport. This simple act shows your ability to connect with the animal, which reassures the client of your capability and experience in handling dogs.
ii. Structured Walk Experience:
Provide hands-on experience to the client on how to give a structured walk to the dog. This direct involvement fosters trust, as clients can see your techniques in action and learn from your expertise.
iii. Identifying Reactivity Triggers:
Identify and note any stimulants that trigger reactivity in the dog. By guiding clients on how to behave during such incidents, you demonstrate a proactive approach to problem-solving, which enhances their confidence in your guidance.
Issue Theory & QnA:
i. Explanation of the Issue:
Take time to explain the identified issue to the client. Focus solely on the problem at hand, instead of delving into an extensive discourse on dog psychology. This approach reassures the client that you are focused on resolving the specific issue their pet is experiencing.
ii. Encouraging Questions:
Encourage your clients to ask questions. Answering their queries clearly and patiently not only helps them understand the problem better but also displays your knowledge and dedication, thereby boosting their trust in you.
iii. Provision of Practice Time:
Give clients a 7-14 day period to practice the suggested techniques with their dogs. This ensures they don’t feel rushed or pressured, thus building confidence in your methods. Schedule a follow-up session to assess progress and make necessary adjustments.
A successful first consultation as a dog behaviorist entails listening intently to your clients, demonstrating your practical skills, explaining issues clearly, and encouraging an interactive QnA. By adhering to these principles, you can build a strong foundation of trust and confidence with your clients, setting the stage for a productive and rewarding dog training journey.