I apply the three stage P.A.W. process to any dog behavior problem I come across. Below are the forms I use for my Behavior Consultations to break down problems and create Training Plans that work for the owner and are fair to the dog.
I whip out this sheet at the start of the consultation for my own notes.
In the top left bubble is a reminder of some of the things that we can’t change or do anything about. I often add things that are specific to a client’s situation, but these four are universal.
Perception. At the beginning of the consultation I usually ask the client questions while observing the dog. My goal during this period is to get as close to answering who, what, when, where, why as I can. I write the information on left side of the page. I start assessing the dog, the client, and the entire situation, looking for variables that I think will make the problem easier or harder to overcome.
Actions. Throughout the consultation I scribble possible actions that I think will help overcome the problem on the right side of the page.
The Will. This is where I make explicit that the responsibility rests on the client’s shoulders. I explicitly state any points that I think might cause the training plan to fail and is controllable by the client. For example, if I think the client is impatient, I might point out the importance of making progress before thinking about perfection and working towards small goals. I write down possible setbacks and mental hurdles that they might not be able to control.
At the end of the consultation I ask the owners to transcribe what I say onto this sheet, using their own words.
I have the client’s fill out this sheet for a few reasons. One is that my handwriting is so bad that I can barely read it. More importantly, I hope that distilling the information into their own words will help clients digest and own the information.
I try to limit to three perception points and three action points. These might all address aspects of the same problem or completely different problems. It just depends on the situation.
Before completing the Will section, I explain that although I can give them the right actions, recommend the right equipment, even work with dog myself, it is ultimately their responsibility to follow through with the plan. The top left bubble contains things that no one can do anything about. The Will section contains things that I cannot do anything about, but the clients can.
I then have them sign the bottom of the page to further reinforce their accountability.
Finally, I use my phone to scan the Client Sheet for my records.
I include this sheet in the client’s welcome materials and review it with them after they’ve completed the Client Sheet.
This is just my method. P.A.W. is totally customizable to fit your needs. The important thing is that you follow the steps for getting the right perspective, actions, and being clear about the client’s responsibility.