Are You a Compliant Animal Training Client?

compliant animal training client percentageAre you a compliant animal training client?

Let’s hope so because if you aren’t, the truth is that you are driving your animal trainer crazy!

I guess we should consider it job security but when you take pride in your work, the reward isn’t just the money you receive in exchange for those services, it is the changes in behavior and the lives of your clients that really are the positive reinforcers.

Recently I spoke with a client who has not been following up on a few directives she was given once I finished training her animal.

To say it is disheartening is an understatement because she fails to make changes that will benefit both her and her animal.

But, animals tend to be my priority, so even when I am busy with something else, if an animal appears it catches my attention—and so many animals tend to ask me for what they need.

On a day-to-day basis, pet owners seem to have a very different set of priorities than I do!

When one of the regional papers interviewed a neighbor in my community and she told them I was like the pied piper because all the animals ran up to me and knew me—and visa versa.

Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me when people hire an animal professional (of any type) and then fail to follow through.

They must be motivated to get help but I see and hear about the lack of compliance all the time.

Now in the past client’s case it is not just behavioral, it is something important that helps her to monitor her animal to keep him healthy—both behaviorally and physically.

It doesn’t take but about five minutes a week to monitor one thing and only about ten minutes twice a day on the other…the kicker is, when something goes wrong, she blames it on the animal and takes no responsibility for creating the situation.

If pressed, she makes excuses and perpetuates myths she wants to believe are true.

Unfortunately, she is not alone in this world. Lots of people perpetuate myths about animals and their behavior.

At one time, when I still took clients without referrals, I’d prepare a history and training assessment report for the veterinarian’s file.

There was a section that actually anticipated the percentage of compliance I expected from the client.

In my work of behavior modification, I can measure and predict the progress of a client based on their compliance and diligence.

Those who adhere to the schedule assigned move along quickly, while those that don’t might need to see me again at a longer interval between sessions—otherwise they waste my time and theirs.


Unless they commit the time to building a solid foundation and to make steady progress to move forward in animal training or behavior modification program–it won’t happen or if it does–it takes eons.

If you are not meeting the goals your animal trainer has set for you, or you are not adhering to the program your animal trainer or behavior consultant gave to you—I want to know why.

Seriously, help me to understand why not. Is it a priority issue? Do you love your animal trainer so much you can’t bear to complete the program?

On the other hand, if you are compliant, tell me what motivates you to be so diligent.

In either case, I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

About Ark Lady

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  1. Honestly, I’m sure many people want to follow up with
    recommendations but then lack time or proper motivation
    to follow through. There’s not enough reinforcers present to
    make it worth their while. (even if it seems like there should
    be from the trainer’s perspective!)

    Sometimes it’s probably a bit like taking antibiotics–
    the doctor tells the patient to take the full 2 weeks worth
    of the drugs. But you start feeling better on day 8, so you
    start forgetting to take the drugs.

    If a client thinks significant progress has taken place already,
    they might be less likely to finish up with the rest of the
    intervention. As well, it’s a lot easier to think short term
    (I have ten million other things to do right now, can’t spare
    10 minutes) than to think long term (this will save me time,
    effort and money 6 months from now).

    Also, are the expectations reasonable?
    (And not just from the trainer’s perspective, but also from the
    client’s perspective?) In one of the pre-agility classes I took
    last spring, we were suppose to (as part of our homework) take
    our dogs out in public settings to work on training
    (restaurants, petsmart, etc.) three times a week.
    ??? ha! Must have seemed reasonable to the trainer, who works
    with dogs for a living. Not as reasonable for a college student
    who was also working part time. I was lucky if I got in once
    a week. And it’s always harder to comply with expectations if
    they seem unattainable and too far fetched.

    Just a few thoughts. I can see how this issue would be
    maddening for you, though!


  2. Personally, it doesn’t really matter to me but since the client has stated they have a goal (correct behavior problems) it is a bit odd when they are not compliant.

    You are right when it comes to the trainer’s perspective however. I usually explain what people need to do to attain a goal to progress at a certain rate. If they don’t adhere to the program I usually know.

    Sometimes they don’t fess up. For instance, I had an aggression case last year that was pretty extreme and difficult due to the dog’s temperament, breed, and household dynamics with the established dog.

    However, about the third lesson I had to ask the client how much she was working on the strategies I outlined. She was only working on them three days a week which was not working.

    We outlined what she could do and then I didn’t see her as frequently because she had to hit specific goals before we could progress.

    Bottom line, her behavior problems probably could have been extinguished in 12-16 weeks instead of the six months it took.

    She was thrilled, me? Not so much because my goal is to extinguish that type of issue as quickly and as effectively as possible. There were lots of complications in this case–but ultimately the goal was achieved.

    So that is the good news because that is my job. I also had to laugh when the client was reading books on training and told me that they said the same thing that I was teaching her.


    You gotta laugh about it but I don’t always tell people my background.

    Bottom line? Communication is key but so is sticking to the program outlined by your professional. So glad that you brought up the medical example–even the veterinary clinics see the same things.

    My former client also was not compliant with the directives from the veterinarian–spent lots of money and visits because she wasn’t.

    Go figure!

    PS I give my clients treats (and sometimes candy) but they also get squirted with water (after we establish a good rapport). This makes them laugh and get going a bit. It really is the human clients that need all the work.

  3. The guilt I feel at this moment! I have been less than compliant. My cats started spraying in the hhouse last spring. I finally called in a behaviorist and one of the tasks was to keep their minds stimulated and teach impulse control. I choose clicker training and it was going great! Then one of the cats (the one spraying the most) stopped cooperating with training. He initially loved it but after a few weeks wouldn’t respond. All I can think is to use a higher value treat but he is on a restricted diet (duck and green pea) and I’m extremely afraid to give him anything else (and he does not consider that food high value!). So I gradually quit the training sessions. The spraying has lessened a great deal with all the other things I’ve done but I feel guilty because the other two cats were having fun.

    So my lack of compliance boils down to frustration that training ran into a road block and I felt at a loss to find away around. I’m writing my behaviorist today to see if we can do something to get back on track!

  4. LOL Poor Kathryn! Glad to hear that you are calling. Your cat might be bored so you need to mix it up a bit or brush up on techniques. I am glad your are working with someone and are going to follow up on the issue–kudos for you!

    *click, click* Good owner. 😉