Behaviour Counselling

With my veterinary background I am trained to work with a diagnosis/treatment/prognosis model. But this is far too simplistic to be applied to canine behaviour problems. In canine behaviour counselling, the dogs history, physical health and environment are all taken into account, as well as the motivation and skills of you, the human companion of your dog, to change the way you interact with him/her.

I always ask the following three questions of any case I work with:

1. Why is the problem behaviour(s) normal for this individual?

2. What change in behaviour is a reasonable compromise between the needs of the dog, and the needs of the other species it shares its life with?

3. How can we shape this behaviour in a way which is effective and achievable?

However bizarre and incomprehensible your dog's behaviour seems, there will always be a reason for it. It isn't doing it just to annoy you, but because it's an entirely appropriate reaction to the experiences it has had. This doesn't mean we need to know everything that happened in its life, but we can make a good prediction of how it is feeling from what it actually does. This is crucial to knowing how to solve the problem- if this foundation isn't in place, we won't get far.

If you can understand what is going on for your dog, you'll be much more likely to apply the techniques to make him or her better. This is always going to involve compromise- and there is no set answer for set problems, because each home is different. Whatever we agree on as a solution, we'll apply the same solid scientific principles to achieve it. There have been times in the past when there just isn't a solution that really meets the needs of the dog and its human family simultaneously. Don't think of it as failure if this happens to you, as sometimes re-homing the dog is the best option for both the dog, and the resumption of a happy home!