Behaviour Counselling for Dogs
When a family dog develops unwanted behaviour problems, it can be distressing not only for the dog but for the owners too. It can be difficult to understand why your dog is behaving this way and how best to deal with the situation. The resulting frustration and friction can often lead to a breakdown in the relationship between pet and family. This need not happen however and, in most cases, behaviour problems can be resolved with the help of a properly qualified behaviour counsellor.
Help is available for:
- Aggressive behaviour towards people
- Aggressive behaviour towards dogs
- Aggressive behaviour towards pets
- Fearfulness or nervousness
- Fear of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks
- Chewing and destructive behaviour
- Soiling indoors
- Repetitve or compulsive behaviour
- Fear of car travel
- Separation related behaviour problems
- Chasing livestock, cyclists or traffic
- Guarding food, toys or places
- Inappropriate play and mouthing
- Excessive barking
How It Works
Step 1 – Veterinary Referral & History
Following an initial telephone conversation, I will ask you to obtain a veterinary referral. I will also provide you with a behaviour questionnaire to complete and ask for a deposit to secure your appointment.
Step 2 – The consultation
I will come out to your home for the initial consultation, which takes approximately 2 -3 hours. Even if the behaviour problem occurs outside the home, it is invaluable to see dogs in the home environment, interacting with all members of the household.
During the consultation, I will ask any additional questions arising from your questionnaire and make an assessment of your dog's behaviour. I will then explain the motivation for the behaviour and discuss with you the most practical course of action in this case, taking into account the welfare of not only the dog, but of your household and the wider community.
Before leaving, I will give you a written set of first aid strategies to implement straight away and you will be asked to pay the balance by cash or cheque. The fee for a behaviour consultation is £180.
Step 3 – Follow up
Following the consultation, I will send you a detailed written report which is tailored to suit your specific circumstances. This includes an assessment of the behaviour problem and step by step instructions for the behaviour modification itself. Support via email and telephone is also provided for 6 months.
I will provide a copy of the report to your vet and liaise with your vet as necessary throughout treatment.
I will provide follow up rehabilitation and training sessions as required, charged at £60 per hour (if a number of follow up visits are required these can be prepaid at a reduced cost).
People give behaviour and training advice on online forums all the time – can't you tell me what to do over the telephone?
Wherever you look, online, in the park, in the vets waiting room… there will always be people willing to give you the benefit of their expertise. Of course, not all of this advice will be good advice and the problem is knowing who to trust. Behaviour problems should only be advised upon following a health check by your vet; the taking of a thorough multifactorial history and observation of the animal him or herself. In the interests of welfare, I may give emergency 'first aid' advice on the telephone, but a full behaviour modification programme can only be drawn up following a consult. There is no one size fits all solution and seemingly similar symptoms can accompany very different problems, requiring different therapeutic strategies.
Will my dog grow out of it, or get over it if I wait long enough?
Some behaviours such as puppy biting, are linked to lifestages and will diminish with the proper guidance from owners. In general though, behaviour problems don't tend to go away on their own, in fact quite the opposite, they will tend to worsen over time. The shorter the life of the problem, the better the prognosis for recovery. My recommendation would always be to seek advice sooner rather than later.
Can you promise to cure my dog?
When it comes to changing behaviour, quick fixes are rarely if ever what they seem, suppressing rather than resolving the problem, and leaving you with a ticking time bomb, as the behaviour is likely to resurface with a vengeance in the future. Initial changes can happen quickly, the reality however is that effecting long-term behaviour change takes time and patience. Achieving behaviour change this way is immensely satisfying. As a bonus, working with your pet rather than against him or her, can improve your bond and rebuild broken relationships.
What I do promise is to provide you with the understanding, strategies and skills to work with your dog to improve their behaviour and to support you throughout that process, without compromising welfare or jeopardising your relationship.
What methods will you use?
This is a good question, and one which you should ask anyone you are thinking of allowing to work with yourself and your dog. In line with the most current research, my behaviour modification programmes will include some or all of the following;
- Strategies to prevent the dog practicing the unwanted behaviour
- Strategies for managing behaviour and avoiding triggers
- Adapting the dog's environment
- Altering daily feeding, exercise or sleep routines
- Helping the dog create a more positive emotional response to triggers
- Training new behaviours which will be useful in managing behaviour, using the judicious giving and withholding of rewards eg. food, play or life rewards
- Helping you to understand how your dog learns and how to read his body language
I will not use methods or equipment designed to inflict physical pain, discomfort, fear or intimidation (on either the dog or the owners!).
Sue and Rosie
“Helen has been helping me with my two Golden Retrievers, Rosie and Lizzie, both 3 years old. I was experiencing problems with Rosie who had shown signs of stress and coprophagia since she came home from the breeder. I have found Helen's calm and sensitive approach has put me at ease and her Behaviour Modification Programme is easy to follow. It has been so helpful that Helen visited us at home spending time looking at our daily routine with Rosie and Lizzie and then formulating a plan to suit us. She has helped me to understand our girls’ behaviour, I am feeling more confident with my dog training and most importantly the girls are very happy!”
Lisa and Misty
“I was referred to Helen by my vet to address an issue I had with my dog, Misty. She is a lovely, good-natured dog but would bark and lunge at other dogs when she saw them. This made taking her out very difficult.
Helen came for a consultation at our home which was very thorough, she listened patiently, asked lots of questions and then explained why Misty was behaving the way she did which really helped us understand the problem better and she went through the steps we would need to take to resolve the issue in a straightforward, easy to understand way.
We received the very comprehensive written assessment and behaviour modification plan a few days later. It has been invaluable to have Helen's input. We are following the steps she suggested and are pleased to report that things are very much improved though not entirely resolved yet but we understand that this is a continual, ongoing process.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Helen, she is very approachable and can be contacted at any time after the initial assessment to review things and offer further input. As a family we have a much better understanding of Misty's behaviour and feel much happier knowing that we are doing something to address the problem behaviour in a way that is based on positive reinforcement rather than punitive in any way.”