Sunday, 1 August 2021

Using the services of a dog behaviourist - is it worth it?

16 March 2021

It doesn't matter if we own a puppy from a kennel or have decided to adopt an adult dog from a shelter or foundation. Sometimes on our way together there are problems that are difficult to cope with alone. When is it worth considering a consultation with a specialist?

Who is a dog behaviourist?

A dog behaviourist is a specialist who deals with animal behaviour therapy. He is often called a dog psychologist, but it's not quite a correct term. His task is to assess what affects the undesirable behavior of the animal and find a way to solve the problem. Often, his task is to modify the dog's environment and the owner's habits, because that's where the problem is most often.

Dog behaviorist begins his work by collecting information about the dog's problems, its behavior, habits, diet and past. Usually the meeting takes place in the owner's home and includes taking the dog for a walk to observe how the dog reacts in its natural environment.

After a thorough interview, a diagnosis is made and behavioural therapy is proposed, taking into account the cooperation between the owner and the dog. In severe cases, pharmacological treatment may be recommended, after consulting the case with a veterinarian.

When should I use the services of a dog behaviourist?

Dogs can face a variety of problems on a daily basis. Often the reason of such behavior is their past: inadequate socialization during puppyhood, traumatic experiences from the previous life or putting too high requirements to the dog and not dealing with emotions and stress. It happens that some fears are responsible for the dog's genes and health, so it is important to choose an animal from a good breeding and knowledge of the character of its parents.

The above reasons may cause various problems. One of the most common is separation anxiety, which manifests itself in vocalizing, defecating and destroying objects in the absence of the owner. Equally often in dogs, especially those living in cities, there is a problem of aggression or reactivity towards other representatives of their species or strangers. Each of those problems is a reason to seek specialist help and teach your dog to cope with difficult situations.

What to do before meeting with a dog behaviourist?

Often, poor health of pets is responsible for disturbing behaviors. If a dog is in pain, it may react with fear or aggression to certain behaviours. That's why, before consultation with a behaviorist, it's worth to do at least basic blood test (blood count and biochemistry), urine and abdominal ultrasound, and in case of older animals or animals predisposed to specific diseases - also heart test and consultation with a veterinarian - orthopedist.

It is also worth checking the competence of the person with whom we want to cooperate. Due to the fact that the profession of a behaviourist is not regulated in any way, you can find people on the market who don't have enough knowledge and experience in this field, and still give consultations. Therefore, it is good to verify whether a given person has actually completed the necessary courses (e.g. COAPE) and to find out what methods he or she uses and what opinions there are about that person.