1. What kinds of problems can be improved with behavior consultation?
All types of problems can show improvement by gaining the right tools and techniques and practicing with your pet. Behavior problems tend to fall into two categories: those with an emotional component (anxiety, fear, aggression or panic) and those that are learned bad behaviors. In both cases, improvement and resolution are very possible with safe, scientific and humane techniques. Usually improvement is noticed right away, but resolution may take weeks or months depending on the type of problem. Some common cases presented to me include:
Aggression: Growling, Barking, and Biting behavior directed at people (family members, strangers or your veterinarian) or other dogs
Fear: Avoidance, panic and phobias (most commonly noises or thunder)
Anxiety: Separation from owners or other pets leading to elimination issues, barking or destruction
Inappropriate elimination in the house (cats or dogs)
Repetitive, stereotypic, and compulsive behaviors (often times this includes behavior of unknown origin that the owner or the veterinarian doesn’t understand)
Hyperactivity, Learning disabilities, inability to form new memories (even when related to known traumatic injury)
Inappropriate ingestion disorders (excessive eating or drinking, swallowing inedible items, previous history of gastrointestinal-obstruction)
Excessive attention seeking, pulling on the leash, jumping up on people that has not been responsive to previously tried training methods
Cognitive dementia- in conjunction with your veterinarian
Predatory behavior directed at inappropriate targets (cats, cattle, sheep etc.)
2. Is my pet too old to change their behavior?
No. Any pet of any age can always improve. The longer the behavior has been occurring, the longer it typically takes to resolve since there is not only the underlying motivation to address but also the habit and rehearsal of the behavior. That being said, as long as your pet is medically ok, behavior can change even in older pets.
3. How long does it take before I see results?
We can usually improve some symptoms right away with careful management, but lasting behavioral changes take time to learn. Usually we can see 75% improvement within 4-8 weeks and then continued improvement beyond that time may take a few months.
4. What is your success rate with solving behavior problems?
All behavior problems are not the same. Most of my cases tend to be veterinarian referrals of fairly serious refractory cases. Even though that is true, more than 92% of my patients show improvement to the degree satisfactory to their owners. With a comprehensive approach, we can achieve a positive outcome for owner and pet alike.
5. Do you offer a guarantee of results?
No. Behavior on any pet is highly individual and dependent on many factors. Results are dependent largely on implementation of strategies and follow-through and behavioral practice by owners. Together, we have shared responsibility for how much improvement you see and how soon. I will provide you the most current scientific approaches to modifying your pet’s behavior and you will need to practice with your pet, ask questions if you have them and let me know if things aren’t working so we can adjust.
6. How long is our appointment?
Depending on the type of appointment, we usually need 1-2 hours. During that time, I take a complete history, observe your pet in their environment, explain the motivation of their behavior to you, develop a behavioral plan and demonstrate the exercises you will need to practice with your pet so they can improve their behavior. See Types of Consultations for more information.
7. What do I need to be ready for our appointment?
Prior to our appointment, you will need to fill out a behavioral profile for your pet. This gives me an idea of all the behaviors you are concerned about ahead of time so we can be sure to discuss them during our appointment. Let me know if your pet has any food allergies, since we will need to use treats. On the day of our appointment, have your pet skip their usual meal if it is within two hours of the appointment. Otherwise, proceed through their schedule as normal. If your pet struggles with meeting new people, make sure you let me know that so we can have the best greeting possible and be able to work together well during out appointment
8. Do you take pets in a board and train situation?
Not at this time. I believe that solutions to behavior problems are a partnership between the owner and their pet. Practice in their home setting is crucial to their success. See options for Daytraining, where I work with your pet directly in your home after our initial consultation.
9. Do you think rehoming a problem pet is a good answer? Maybe someone else would do better with them than I could.
Not usually. There are a few exceptions, but most of the time you are best equipped to work with your pet because you already know them and love them. Research shows that once a pet is re-homed, they are more likely to be euthanized for that behavior problem. Original owners have the best success rates of helping their pets.
10. What kinds of pets do you see for consultations?
I primarily work with cats and dogs. Pet birds and horses are also numbered among my success stories.
11. I have been told that the only way to solve my dog’s aggression is to shock them or physically dominate them. I don’t feel comfortable doing this. Is there another way?
Yes! Not only is shock and force damaging to your relationship with your dog, but it is also not helping them learn to feel better about the person or thing they are aggressing towards. I can offer you methods of helping aggressive behavior that leave everyone involved feeling better, and thus behaving differently. You can feel comfortable during the treatment process as you watch your dog relax and feel better about situations that used to provoke them.