Thursday, 20 December 2012

Little things make all the difference: from vet visits to training

As many of you know,well connected canine offers training classes, private lessons, behavioural consults and rehab sessions for many different kinds of dog and owner.  One of our guiding principles is being respectful of the people and animals that we interact with.

That shapes how we work. We don't push or pull our dogs (or handlers!) around, we explain what we need them to do, break it down into small steps, and reward/thank them for cooperating.  We do also help our dogs to learn to accommodate rough handling in preparation for necessary veterinary treatment, but its not our main way of communicating with them.

All of our team (trainers, assistants and canines) work with you and your dog because we love connecting with you. We all like people, not just animals! We want to meet you with a smile, make eye contact and check in to see how you are doing. We want to meet your animal with a smile, make eye contact if appropriate, and check in to see how they are doing.

Today I (Morag) took two of my dogs to see our local vet. Usually with anything complex and especially for Finn (more about him in other posts) we trek over to Leeds to see a holistic vet whom we have an excellent relationship with.  Today I was in a hurry, the local vet is much closer and I felt I should stop being quite so precious about my animals' healthcare.  We saw a generic vet who has probably been in practice 5-6 years.

This vet did a good job of checking my dogs physically and I was happy that he considered the various options before giving us advice on medications and options.

Unfortunately the vet didn't seem to be that interested in the girls as individuals, he didn't introduce himself, pet them or even react when I mentioned Farah is deaf. Freya (our newest girlie) has a rash on her tummy but genuinely loves people and tried very hard to sit nicely and wag for some attention. Farah was just having a general check-up, but I had no chance to explain her signs or get her to stand up before she was grabbed and pulled into position. The physical was thorough but forceful, and he seemed surprised when I intervened to sign "good girl" and provide squeezy paste rewards.

I left knowing that in future I will make the extra effort to travel to see "our" vet, where the professional is interested in the animals as individuals and takes the time to examine at their pace. I genuinely want to work with a vet who makes some effort to connect with their patient, and who I feel has listened both to me, and to my animals.

I hope that we as a training team offer a sense of connection and partnership to the animals and humans that work with us, and if that makes us different, or take a little longer to do things - I am just fine with that!