Ep. 22: What Would Dr. Pachel Say?

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Today’s episode includes Marissa Martino and the amazing Dr. Chris Pachel, board certified veterinary behaviorist. In the last episode with Dr. Pachel, we joked (but not really) about releasing an app called: What would Dr. Pachel say? We’re not releasing an app but we are sharing the next best thing, a podcast episode!

In this episode, Marissa presents several common scenarios that most trainers and behavior consultants face in their private practices and then Dr. Pachel shares how he would handle it! 


How does Dr. Pachel set expectations for his clients in order to support the training and behavior modification process? 

What to do:

  • 3 prong approach: Gather, Share, Plan
  • Want to offer the client an opportunity to say “no” if something does not resonate. 
  • Identify the skills the client and the dog need to learn. Discuss the behavior modification process and techniques and then fill in the management gaps through a conversation with the client.


We’re faced with a client that feels resistant to the training process. We’re assuming this because he is stating things like:

  • “Yea but.”
  • “I tried what you said and it didn’t work.”
  • “I did not realize I had to put so much time and effort into this process.”

What to do:

  • Ask questions to uncover their attachment to their belief. 
  • Ask permission questions to create openness. 
  • Sometimes resistance is not toward the concept/lesson/exercise but rather its toward the discomfort the client is feeling.  


We’re faced with a client that is asking a trainer/behavior consultant what to do regarding medication for their dog. The client might ask the trainer:

  • “Does my dog need meds?”
  • “What meds should my dog get?”
  • “Do I need to medicate my dog forever?”

What to do:

  • “Stay in our lanes” and remember that not all help is helpful. 
  • That’s a great question for your vet! Do you need any help sharing that information with your vet? 


We’re faced with a client that is dedicated to the process BUT their handling skills need improvement in order to reach the behavior goals for their dog. How would you address this client, in hope of not making them feel self conscious? 

What to do:

  • Ask permission upfront regarding how to best share constructive feedback to the client. This way when you run into that situation, the client will be prepared to hear it. 
  • Facilitate self-assessment of skills. If the client is able to freely acknowledge their skill set deficit, that provides an opportunity for the behavior consultant to echo that info
  • Practice handling skills without their dog (either without a dog or with another dog that is familiar with the skill). This removes a huge source of stress for many clients while building their skills.


In the fifth scenario, we’re faced with a client has had dogs their life and they think they know everything. Examples include:

  • “I see what you’re saying about my dog exhibiting displacement behaviors which indicate stress; however, my dog is fine.”  
  • “I understand why we wouldn’t want to punish the dog for doing this behavior but it works.”   

What to do:

  • Ask permission to share observations, for example: “You know YOUR dog better than anyone, and I know DOGS, can I share what I am seeing in this context, and then we’ll figure out together what that means?”
  • “Are there any quirks that you’ve encountered with this dog that are different from other dogs you’ve owned or worked with?” This may facilitate the client recognizing that each dog is different and may require modification of skills.
  • What does “it works” mean to you?  Differentiate “in the moment” (typically functioning as an interruption rather than true punishment) from truly impacting long term behavior change. 

Find Dr. Pachel online:

Animal Behavior Clinic: https://animalbehaviorclinic.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drpachel

Instagram: @drpachel 

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