Meet Dr. Jo Whitehead – AbbeyPet’s animal behaviourist

AbbeyPet's Animal Behaviourist, Jo WhiteheadI have worked with and studied cats, dogs and other animals for many years.  I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in 1988, after which I began veterinary nursing for the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) in East London.  I then went on to gain my MSc and a PhD in Biology (Animal Behaviour and Physiology).  I have been actively involved in animal behaviour and welfare research for over 17 years and previously ran a pet behaviour clinic before taking a career break.  I regularly attend continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to keep up to date with dog training methods and advances in behaviour modification and have recently completed studying with Newcastle University doing some CPD modules from their MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare. 

I am a Clinical Animal Behaviourist and full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC).  The APBC  was set up to help ensure that pet owners can get properly qualified and experienced help for their pets in what is largely an unregulated field where anyone can claim to be a pet behaviour specialist.  Members of the APBC must practice according to the highest professional standards, knowledge and expertise.  As stated on their website – “The treatment of behaviour problems in cats, dogs, horses and other companion animals is a highly specialised field that requires qualified professional help. The APBC represents a network of behaviour counsellors that have achieved the highest proven academic and practical standards available in the field of companion animal behavioural therapy. APBC members abide by a strict code of conduct and continually develop their professional knowledge in the light of new research so that clients and the veterinary surgeons who refer them can be assured they receive the latest expert advice at a reasonable cost”.  

AbbeyPet is a fully insured practice and currently provides behaviour services for the owners of mainly cats and dogs, in addition to one to one dog training and puppy training classes.  Treatment of other small companion animals (eg. rabbits) is considered on a case by case basis.  

I’m currently owned by one rather gorgeous English Springer Spaniel and four lovely hens!

Training methods

ProudMembers BadgeI am a keen advocate of force-free training methods and believe strongly that flexibility and adaptability are key to helping people achieve a happy and positive relationship with their pets.  I firmly believe that all training should be built upon a foundation of scientifically proven learning theory and knowledge of behavioural training, and am committed to helping pet owners achieve this. I am a full member of the Pet Professional Guild.  This is an Association for professionals who are committed to humane force free training and pet care protocols.  Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, no physical moulding, no compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.