Last year Jane decided to get a small dog for companionship and chose a small poodle cross-breed. Jane started with the best of intentions, but she ran into a problem very soon after the puppy came to live with her. The puppy had difficulty coping with being on his own and would cry and bark each time he was left alone in the home. As many caregivers do, Jane sought advice from the internet, friends and social media – to no avail. She contacted a popular social media “behaviourist” and paid £75 per hour for advice. following said advice, she spent two hours tossing pieces of food at her dog while dizzying herself entering and exiting her home in a futile attempt to build the dog’s tolerance for her absence. This advice did not help. Jane then contacted a “dog whisperer” who charged her £175 and told her to be tough, to be the pack leader and, in her presence, dug his fingers into the sides of her small dog until the dog cowered in terror (he then chased her dog with a tennis racket).
Although Jane loved her dog very much, she was feeling as if the situation were hopeless. She was in tears while walking her dog one afternoon when she bumped into an old friend who told her about the Animal Behaviour & Training Council. He told her that she needed the assistance of a registered clinical animal behaviourist. Thus, Jane contacted me. We had a long conversation and agreed on a date for our first session. Before that session took place, Jane completed and returned to me an in-depth behavioural questionnaire that prompted me to ask her more questions so that before I met her I had a full and detailed case history. Jane printed off the veterinary referral form that I had sent to her, and her vet signed this to agree to me giving advice to her client and her pet. A copy of the dog’s medical history was also supplied – just so that I could see if there were any medical issues that could be contributing to the dog’s behavioural problems.
At our first consultation, we established a base line for this dog – what he could cope with and what he could not. This consultation lasted 3 hours and was followed by a detailed report explaining the reasons for the dog’s issues as well as Stage One of the suggested behaviour modification plan. Each week Jane sent me the previous week’s diaries, and I read them and suggested how we would progress matters. In total, Jane and I worked together for 9 weeks, until her dog could cope with being on his own for 3 hours. The cost for this was far less than either the social media “behaviourist” or the “dog whisperer” had charged Jane. Before booking a behaviour or training session, check to see that your behaviourist or trainer is a member of the Animal Behaviour & Training Council. Don’t be fooled by expensive imitations.