Puppy tutors generate revenue, happy patients
Dr. Hunthausen's team has offered classes for years—although he hasn't necessarily handled this duty himself. In most cases, he says, medical services provide a better return on a veterinarian's time. But why not employ a trainer or train a staff member to teach?
Check the numbers: At Westwood Animal Hospital, six one-hour classes cost $110 a puppy. If a trainer makes $25 an hour, that's a $730 profit for each eight-puppy class. Dr. Hunthausen has classes on weekends and weekday nights, when the clinic is typically unused or underused.To find a trainer, Dr. Hunthausen recommends you ask owners with well-behaved dogs for references, or visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers' Web site ( http://apdt.com/). Be sure to ask who will handle marketing and cleanup—your team or the trainer. And don't forget to ask a legal advisor whether you need to carry insurance or whether that's the trainer's responsibility.
You can also train your team to teach classes and counsel patients on basics. "When the staff member shares something that makes clients say, 'That's a great idea,' it builds his or her confidence," Dr. Hunthausen says.
He says staff members should attend pet training classes with a dog, then apprentice with trainers and read up on animal behavior. Of course, staff members should always refer potential medical issues to you.