The first step in helping your pet dog is to schedule an initial consultation either in-person or over the phone, where I will put your dog “on the couch” so to speak, and evaluate its behavior. I will take a complete history of your dog as far as medical and homing (rescue, shelter, abuse, etc), go over diet, its current lifestyle and all other pertinent information you can give me. After the history is taken, we will go into the details of the problem behavior(s); the onset, length of time, progression, severity – plus any and all other details and concerns you can share with me.
A current medical history is important, because there are some behaviors that can indicate an underlying medical condition, so in some cases I may recommend you see the vet and have your dog checked out. I will be observing your dog while we take the history and details and then I will begin to work with you and your dog to see where I can get initially with the first visit.
Shelter and rescue dogs will often come with their own unique set of behavioral challenges due to their history, neglect, abuse or simply the stresses of shelter life. Aggression or other problems in shelter dogs will often be fear or lack of confidence-based and will present in the form of dog/dog aggression, people-specific aggression, guarding, nipping, biting or abnormally high levels of fear or anxiety. After volunteering at local shelters for years, I have worked with 100’s of rescue dogs and am uniquely qualified to help determine what is going with your rescue dog and help relieve its anxiety or other issues and therefore the problem behavior(s).
Behavioral problems in pet dogs can develop gradually over time, or very quickly and for very specific reasons. In some cases it may be a learned behavior (operant conditioning), or a combination of events, related or unrelated, which over time lead to a certain behavior. In other cases it can be a single traumatic or frightening event (ie a dog attack) that causes a change in behavior. Understanding your dogs unique personality and finding the root cause of the unwanted behavior, is the key to positive treatment and results, and that is where I come in.
SETTING A BEHAVIORAL GOAL
During the initial consultation we will establish a behavioral goal we want to achieve with the treatment process, then I will develop a positive-only treatment plan to help correct whatever issues we find with your dog during the consult. The thing to understand is that while there are behaviors such as guarding, nipping, biting, jumping and pulling that we want to try to eliminate (extinguish) altogether, there are other behaviors that we can’t or do not want to extinguish. A good example is a dog that presents with incessant barking; you do not want to train your dog not to bark, to never bark, because that is their job, it’s what they are supposed to do. The behavioral goal here is to manage the behavior, to shape the behavior so that you dog will do his job and bark, but then will also do his job and stop when you ask him to. So, the bottom line is that while there are some behaviors where the goal will be to extinguish the behavior altogether, there are other behaviors where the goal will be to manage and control the behavior.
FOLLOW-UPS AND PHONE CALLS
After the evaluation and first treatment will be followup visits only as needed, meanwhile it will be your job to continue the treatment plan set up without missing a beat. The ONLY way a treatment plan will work is if it is given consistently and repeatedly until the desired results are achieved. That will be your homework and your job at home. I have an OPEN-PHONE policy, which means that after the initial consult I want you to feel free to call me any time you have any questions or concerns with your dog and its progress.
Find out more about the treatment phase here: READ MORE >>
CALL TODAY IF YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR PET!