Most of the time we have a mutually rewarding and understanding relationship with our pets. Sometimes, though, they can behave in ways that we find difficult to understand or manage, and this is when we might begin to look at a behaviour consultation for our pet.  Behaviour problems shown by our cats, dogs and other companion animals are very varied and can include aggression, destructiveness, barking, self-mutilation, toileting problems, marking, nervousness, problems with car travel and general control.

There is so much conflicting information available to pet owners in books, magazines, on the internet and from well-meaning friends and relatives that we sometimes feel we can’t do right for doing wrong.  These “one size fits all” solutions to our animals’ problems can be difficult, time-consuming and often, sadly, make matters worse if the underlying reason for the behaviour is not correctly diagnosed.  While behaviour modification does take time, patience and effort, as a professional pet behaviourist, I can develop treatment plans that are tailored to your individual pet’s problem and that are also suitable for your own circumstances.  All pet behaviour therapy consultations are conducted in line with the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors guidelines.

The Behaviour Consultation Process

When you contact AbbeyPet for a pet behaviour consultation, Jo will take some initial information, advise on any immediate action to be taken (if this is appropriate) and make an appointment to visit you.

A questionnaire and a veterinary referral slip will be sent to you – both will need to be filled in and returned prior to your appointment, along with a deposit to confirm the appointment.  If you can provide a diary or video of the problem behaviour, this is also very helpful.

© Sherry Tetens Long Dreamstime Stock PhotosConsultations usually take around 2-3 hours, normally in your own home (especially for cats) but sometimes at our premises. It is best if all adult family members are present during the consultation.  A full history of the problem will be taken after which the pet behaviour counsellor will explain the motivation for the behaviour and work with you to devise a treatment plan that you can carry out.  A comprehensive report outlining the behaviour modification will be sent to you and to your veterinary surgeon.

Sometimes it is better for the programme to take place in more frequent, shorter sessions (for example, where several sessions of practical handling are needed) – the format for each case will be decided during discussion with you.

Treatment programmes for animal behaviour problems vary according to the nature and severity of the problem. Most behaviour modification programmes will include reward based training (particularly for dogs) and may require you to change aspects of your day to day management of your pet. Any training methods will be fully demonstrated by the behaviourist and you will have the opportunity to have a go yourself to ensure that you are happy and can fully apply any training required.

Please be aware that changing a well established behaviour takes time and commitment from the owners; this may seem quite daunting initially, but with support and guidance from the pet behaviour counsellor and the patience and consistency to carry out the behaviour programme, both your pet’s behaviour and the relationship between you, can improve.

Further advice and after-care will be provided via Skype, email or telephone. The format for all cases, including other companion animals such as rabbits, parrots and horses, will be considered on an individual basis.