FAQ’s Behaviour Consults
Why do I need an Individual Behaviour Consultation?
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?
How long does it take?
How do I arrange a consultation?
Should I collect videos of my pet?
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?
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?
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
What happens afterwards?
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
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.