Frequently Asked Questions about Behaviour Consultations
Why do I need an Individual Behaviour Consultation?
Every animal is different, with their own emotions and their own individual way of responding to the people and environment around them. Every species has a different pattern of emotional reactions and behaviours. Each pet owner has a unique relationship with their pet, however at times it can be a struggle to understand why your pet does certain things and how to manage their behaviour. An individual consultation can help you understand your pet’s unique needs within their environment and how that fits with your lifestyle.
Whether you have a dog, cat, horse or bird, I would love to help you and your pet understand each other better and to support you through the behaviour challenges you are facing. I would love the opportunity to work together with you to improve your pet’s quality of life and the companionship you share, with advice and strategies designed just for the two of you.
Where is the consultation done?
The consultation is done in your home, at a time when your whole family can be involved. Home consultations reduce the stress on your pet to travel. Pets do not always show typical behaviour in an unfamiliar environment. A home consultation allows me to see how your pet lives and to develop a more specific, individualised and relevant treatment plan.
How long does it take?
A consultation at your home usually lasts between two and three hours. It is best to schedule a time when your whole family can be involved.
How do I arrange a consultation?
Before the consultation you will be asked to complete a consent form and a questionnaire. The questionnaire will provide detailed information about your pet, your pet’s environment, your lifestyle and your concerns. This will allow the consultation to be tailored to your needs and will save valuable time during the appointment.
You will be contacted to arrange a suitable appointment time. Once your payment has been received your appointment time will be confirmed.
Should I collect videos of my pet?
Videos can be very useful to show behaviours that may not be seen during the consultation; such as how your pet behaves when left alone either inside the home or outside in the yard. It can also be useful to show how your pet behaves with family members on a typical day.
For the safety of you and your pet please do not encourage your pet to show aggressive behaviours, such as growling, snarling, snapping or biting to record this on video.
If barking is an issue your local council can loan you a collar which records barking and pacing behaviour. The information can be downloaded to your computer and can be very helpful as part of the consultation.
What happens during the consultation?
During the consultation detailed information will be gathered from you and by observing your pet.
Discussion with you will include:
Your pet’s history
Observation of video footage of your pet’s daily activities
Observation of video footage of problem behaviours if safe. (As stated above please do not attempt to trigger aggressive actions from your pet)
The consultation includes close observation of your pet’s behaviour including:
Subtle body language signals
If your pet can relax and how they do so
Choices your pet makes on where to relax
The way your pet interacts with their environment
Once all the information is gathered, a diagnosis and treatment plan is discussed. This may be adapted later in response to extra information or your pet’s response to treatment.
What happens after the observations are done?
After the observations, a diagnosis (the cause of the problem) and treatment plan (how to manage the problem) are discussed with you in detail. You will have an opportunity to ask questions. Remember this initial diagnosis is based on information available at the time and may be updated if further information is gathered such as extra video footage or responses to treatment trials.
A treatment plan suited to your family, your environment and your pet is then discussed. This may include:
Management strategies. These are physical things you can do immediately to:
Keep your pet safe,
Reduce things that trigger stress reactions
Keep your family and others safe
It is important to separate your pet from stresses until they learn that the environment is safe and they have had a chance to develop coping strategies.
Behaviour Modification. These are gentle exercises to help your pet learn better ways to behave. Only positive reinforcement is used and the aim is to help reduce your pet’s fear and anxiety. Your pet will learn at their own pace to trust you and to feel comfortable in their environment. Their confidence will grow and they will be able to learn more appropriate ways to respond to situations.
Use of an experienced dog coach or trainer is often recommended to achieve the best results. Delta Qualified Trainers are preferred as they have completed a nationally recognised certificate course, composing of around 600 hours of training in the use of positive behaviour methods.
Like a human psychologist, your dog trainer will work alongside you to support you in carrying out the treatment program developed by your behaviour focused Veterinarian. Rather like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for humans, they will help you guide your pet to make gradual changes towards using better coping strategies and choosing the behaviours that are acceptable to you. The use of a skilled trainer is an invaluable part of the successful treatment of your pet’s behaviour. Options for suitable trainers will be discussed with you during the consultation.
On some occasions medication may be recommended. This is most often used as a tool alongside other techniques in changing longstanding behaviours. The most commonly used medications are used to manage anxiety.
Please note that medications:
Are not aimed at drugging or sedating your pet
Should not change your pet’s personality
Will be carefully tailored for your pet, then monitored carefully
Will only be given with your permission
Will only be given after a thorough medical check and full blood test
More detailed information on the use of medications is available here (link to other page)
What happens afterwards?
You will be provided with a written behaviour report following the consultation. The reports are detailed and written specifically for you and so take around one week to complete.
The report will include:
A summary of your pet’s history
Details of the assessment
Information about the diagnosis or cause of the problem behaviour
Instructions for the treatment plan
Any initial medical scripts if required
You and your professional canine coach can refer to the report regularly as a reminder of the treatment plan to help you stay on track towards you goal.
Follow-ups and Revisits
Ongoing support is vital to the success of your pet’s treatment plan. Your initial consultation fee includes unlimited free follow-up phone calls and email support for three months from the initial appointment. This will help us to adjust the treatment plan as your pet progresses.
A follow-up appointment four to six weeks after the initial consultation is important to assess your pet’s progress. Further reviews are recommended at three, six and twelve months and then each year. While follow-ups are discussed on an individual basis, these are a legal requirement if your pet is on medication and are an important part of the treatment plan.
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