5 WHAT EXTRA CE WILL YOU OFFER THE TEAM?
Again, this will depend on your employees' interest level and what they want to accomplish. Their options include reading
books and journals on their own and attending CE; they can also pursue obedience classes or seek board certification.
At the minimum, all of your team members should have a basic understanding of companion animal behavior, how animals learn,
and how to help owners with common puppy and kitten problems. If you plan to offer training classes, your services may include
puppy classes, obedience classes, and AKA Canine Good Citizenship classes. Always look for certified professional dog trainers
to teach these classes, such as those accredited by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
6 HOW WILL YOU IMPLEMENT THE NEW PROGRAM?
You want to make people aware of your products and services through internal and external marketing. For example, you might
describe your behavior services in a yellow pages ad, on your website, on bulletin boards in the practice or out in the community,
in a brochure, through personal contact during wellness visits, in lectures to breed clubs and shelters, and so on. It's also
a good idea to use behavior questionnaires to discover problems your clients may not mention during a normal visit.
I also recommend that you develop a database of contacts within your local media and others in the local pet profession. Periodically
send out behavior-related press releases to the people in your database and showcase your behavior expertise. For example,
if the local TV station or newspaper runs a story about a dog bite in your area, send out a release with tips on how to prevent
dog bites. This will boost recognition of your name and services, as well as help keep people—and pets—safe.
Finally, free puppy parties are a great way to offer a fun service and teach eager new owners about their pets' behavior.
I recommend an informal setting with coffee, doughnuts, and dog treats. Your reception area or a nearby open space is usually
a good choice for a venue. Your goal for the party is to give pet owners and their pets a chance to socialize and learn about
behavior. It also provides an excellent opportunity for pet owners to meet your team and learn more about your practice.
7 HOW WILL YOU PRICE YOUR SERVICES?
Financially, a successful behavior program means you keep more clients and generate more revenue. After all, a pet that stays
with a family is going to be a patient for many years at your practice. And depending on the products and services you provide,
an effective behavior program can offer a significant contribution to your bottom line. At my practice, behavior-related services
contribute about 10 percent to gross revenue annually. We derive income from:
> behavioral medications for conditions such as separation anxiety
> diagnostics (to establish a pet's baseline health and monitor safety of long-term drugs)
> sales of behavior products
> training sessions.
Finally, let's look at how you should charge for consultations. Since the time required can vary significantly from case to
case, especially for problems that involve aggression, I recommend charging by the hour. Your hourly rate should be based
on a physical examination fee. For instance, if your 20-minute exam runs $48, an hour of behavior consultation of training
would cost about $145. (If you decide you'll make house calls as part of your behavior services, you'll need to add an upcharge
to cover your time out of the practice and travel-related expenses.) For more predictable problems, such as canine and feline
house soiling, you may decide to charge per visit.
Remember, a behavior program offers one very special benefit beyond the financial: If you can help pet owners salvage a strained
relationship with their pets, you become an important part of their human-animal bond. And the trust and love you've helped
create will offer a lifetime of rewards for the pet, the family, and your practice.
Dr. Wayne Hunthausen owns Animal Behavior Consultations in Westwood, Kan. Please send questions or comments to email@example.com