Behaviour Problems

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Many owners will struggle with their dog’s behaviour at some point in their life, you are not alone! There are many ways in which unwanted behaviour can be managed and modified to make both owner and dog’s lives easier and more fulfilling.

Common dog behaviour problems we can help with:

  • Inappropriate toileting (dog is urinating/ defecating in the house)
  • Aggression towards other dogs
  • Aggression towards unknown people
  • Aggression towards family / household members
  • Separation anxiety problems
  • Attention seeking (including jumping up)
  • Fearful behaviours (fear of people. fear of noises etc)
  • Travel problems
  • Destructive behaviours (chewing. digging, scratching etc)
  • Excessive barking
  • Repetitive and compulsive behaviour

Is behaviour work the same as training?

Behaviour work may involve training but is distinct in that a behaviourist will first pull together all of the possible factors influencing your dog’s behaviour, such as environment, socialisation, genetics, health & veterinary status, training and personality to provide a behavioural “diagnosis” which is key in coming up with an effective treatment plan. Only by bringing everything together can we be sure to come up with something kind and effective, the two major aims of what we do! More often than not we focus on changing how your dog feels about something as this will naturally change your dog’s behaviour. This is the best way to get appropriate and permanent changes for the better, and to set your dog up to make good choices in how they behave.

Beware of any trainer or product that promises a “quick fix” for behaviour problems as most will use punishment-based or aversive methods which will temporarily supress the behaviour you were seeing but almost always make the underlying issue worse. Further down the line these dogs will often develop worse problems and may show aggression without warning since the behaviours they previously used to cope or communicate were punished.

What to expect

After an initial phone call to find out what the problem is, discuss immediate management practices and answer any questions you have about the process, you will be sent a veterinary referral form and canine history form.
Once your dog has been seen by a vet, we will book in a convenient time to conduct an initial consultation which will take place at your own home or another safe and convenient location. During this consultation we will discuss in depth what has been going on, have a look at the behaviour if appropriate, talk about likely causes of the problem and then together, identify some aims to work towards in rectifying the problems you are facing.

Where appropriate we will look at management, routine, feeding and training practices and you will have a chance to see these demonstrated and to try them out. Within 10 days of the consult you will receive a full written report and instruction sheet for any training steps that need to be undertaken. Full phone and email follow up are included and questions and updates are always welcome and encouraged.

For many people, practical training help is also helpful and so clients have the option to book a behaviour and training packages where we will meet regularly to practice techniques, adjust and progress through the behaviour plan.

Services and prices

1Behaviour consult (2–3 hours) and training plan£120
2Behaviour consult and training plan, plus 3 followup sessions£210
3Followup session (1–1.5 hours)£40
+Travel surcharge: 45p per mile for all clients outwith a 20 mile radius.

Evening and weekend slots available, contact us for more information or to book.

Behavioural First Aid: If Your Dog is Showing Aggression

Once you have identified what (or who!) it is that is causing your dog to act aggressively, try to ensure that they are able to avoid it as much as possible. This will involve carefully managing yours and your dog's environment for a while until you can get an appointment with a behaviourist.

Plan walks for times of day or areas where you can easily avoid your dog’s triggers – for example stick to open spaces where you can see other dogs approach and will have plenty of time to move away so you dog does not have to react aggressively to keep another dog away. If aggression is occurring in the home, ensure the dog can retreat away from the trigger of its aggression and always ensure family members are kept safe by teaching everyone how to avoid triggering the aggression, or by containing your dog in a separate room until you can get advice from a behaviourist.

Never, ever, punish a dog for behaviours such as growling as your dog may simply learn not to growl and may then attack without warning. Use growls as a source of information as to what is making them uncomfortable and respect this until you can start behaviour work to teach the dog a more appropriate way of reacting.

FAQ: Why is veterinary referral necessary?

A good behaviourist always works on veterinary referral. This is because health and behaviour are very closely linked. Your vet will give your pet a thorough check up to make sure there are no health issues which might be underlying his or her behaviour.

In some cases it may be necessary for your behaviourist to work with your vet in the treatment of behavioural problems, for example if the problem diagnosed is likely to benefit from treatment with drugs. If a behaviourist does not work on referral from your vet beware! They may recommend modifiDogion plans which are ineffective or distressing for your pet should they have any underlying medical issues.

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