About Edinburgh Dog Behaviour

River McDonald BSc (Hons) MSc CCAB

Clinical Animal Behaviourist

As the founder and director of Edinburgh Dog Behaviour, my goal is to build a happy confident relationship between people and their pets. I believe in honesty, kindness and the highest level of service and therefore promote only the use of kind, reward-based methods based upon up-to-date research and best practice. My approach is firmly centred on you and what you hope to gain from working with me, whilst paying close attention to your pet’s history and individual needs, to build a behaviour plan that is achievable for you both.

I have a broad range of experience handling and working with dogs, from strays and street dogs in Asia to assistance dogs here in Scotland. With a background spanning education, enforcement and the charity sector I hope to bring a range of skills to your unique situation and collaborate to help you get the best from your dog. I am particularly interested in working with aggressive dogs and support separation anxiety dogs and rescues with complex behavioural needs, and I conduct behaviour consults both in-person and remotely via zoom.

As a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist with ASAB, a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)  and registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC), insured dog owners can also claim on their insurance for my services. Please contact your provider to enquire about your individual circumstances.

Elona Smith

Dog & Puppy Training Instructor

We are over the moon to announce that Elona Smith has now officially joined our wee team, offering training 1-2-1s (online and in-person) and helping us run our puppy and teenage dog classes!

Elona's love of behaviour work was ignited 3 years ago when she adopted wonderful little Juno from Romania. Together the pair have come on quite the journey, transforming Juno from an uncertain and nervous rescue into a confident and happy canine companion!
Elona has trained with some of the best in the industry and she is a registered member of PACT (Professional Association of Canine Trainers). She is currently in her second year of studying for an MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at the University of Edinburgh!

Elona's calm, friendly and positive approach will be a massive asset to anyone looking for help understanding and improving the relationship they have with their dog. If you'd like to book in with Elona let us know, you won't be disappointed she's brilliant!


Christina Wells

KPA-CTP, Edinburgh Puppy Club, Puppy Expert

Growing up in The Gambia, Christina always found herself surrounded by a variety of animals - domesticated and wild - and from a very early age, she was fascinated with animal training and how to communicate with other species effectively.

When she finally welcomed her first very own dog into her and her partner’s family in 2013, she made many naive and common puppy raising mistakes and, following a number of unfortunate incidents with other dogs, her little dog Indie became reactive towards other dogs and would bark whenever he saw, smelled or heard another dog. Through trying to help him, Christina found herself attending different dog training classes, and then also dog training seminars by well-known professionals including Victoria Stilwell, Chirag Patel and Sarah Fisher among others. Indie made great progress and after graduating from uni with a BA(hons) in airline management, Christina made a snap decision to follow her passion and study dog training, in particular, the clicker training method, through the Karen Pryor Academy. In 2015 she graduated as a Karen Pryor Academy as Certified Training Partner, with Certified Canine Graduate Indie by her side.

Christina has since raised another 3 puppies, including selecting, raising and training her Working Cocker Spaniel George as a diabetic alert dog for herself. She has helped countless puppy owners, running puppy training classes as well as one-to-one puppy sessions focusing on all things puppy raising and training. She has a particular interest in the critical developmental stages of young puppies, and how to support them in becoming the most confident, well-rounded versions of themselves, and we are proud to have her onboard providing online training and behaviour advice to our Edinburgh Puppy Club Members!



Minas Stefanou

Dog & Puppy Training Instructor

After studying and obtaining a PhD in experimental chemical physics, Minas discovered that his real passion is dog training. A few weeks after handing in his thesis he got his first dog, a Border Collie puppy. Wanting to be able to communicate with his dog and do what is best for her, in addition to having plenty of free time, he fell down the rabbit hole of online courses, shadowing dog trainers and handlers, and reading scientific literature on how dogs think and how they can be trained. His unique talent for communicating gently and kindly with both dogs and people became quickly apparent and meant he was snapped up here at Edinburgh Dog Behaviour!

Because we believe passionately in external assessment to ensure the highest level of knowledge and practical skills, Minas studied and has gained his full membership with the Professional Association of Canine trainers-Knowledge and Skills Assessed (PACT-KSA) in addition to being qualified as an Animal Training Instructor under the accreditation of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC-ATI). He is extremely proud to be part of such organisations where the education is kept at the highest of standards and the training methods are based on kind, ethical and scientifically proven approaches.

Minas is particularly interested in puppy training and early life socialisation, teaching mind games to active dogs and finding fun ways to help dogs and their handlers to achieve their loose lead and recall dreams!

Amy Bastow

Separation Training Specialist

If you’re looking for 1-2-1 training to help your dog feel calm and happy home alone, you won’t find a more supportive, kind and skilful trainer than Amy.

Amy joined the separation training team in 2021 after graduating from Julie Naismith’s SA Pro course. She comes with extensive training and behaviour knowledge, over 10 years experience working with and training dogs, and is ready to support separation anxiety clients with bespoke training exercises and Whatsapp support. River & Amy work together to deliver a combined clinical and training package that represents the highest level of support you could wish for in tackling the problem of separation anxiety in dogs.

As a committed fear-free trainer, Amy will work with you to help you understand and communicate with your dog better, coaching the human side of the relationship and bringing insight and practical techniques to further your training goals. She holds a BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, as well as an MSc in Wildlife Biology & Conservation and lives with her gorgeous Rottweiler Coco.



Tania Pires

Admin Assistant

Tania joined Edinburgh Dog Behaviour in May 2019 to provide administrative support for our growing business. She provides a point of contact for all new enquiries, helps manage bookings and payments and liaises with veterinary surgeries to ensure health and welfare of dogs and owners remains at the heart of what we do.

Originally from Portugal but settled in our beautiful city, Tania is a Virtual Assistant with over 10 years of management and IT experience in a range of industries. In her spare time she loves to travel, and has a gorgeous and friendly Westie who loves to pose for photos.