Key steps in the consultation package:
- Elimination of physical causes by your Vet
- Discussion and observation of your dog's behaviour to identify the reasons for it
- Discussion of what you hope to gain from treatment
- Planning the overall programme
- Explanation and demonstration of the first steps
- Written report and task sheets for reference
- First follow up visit to assess progress and demonstrate the second stage of treatment
- Further follow up visits according the needs of the individual case
- Phone and email support as required
Treatment options may include:
- Changing your dog's perception of or emotional response to triggers, people or situations
- Developing your knowledge of canine behaviour so you may better understand and communicate with your dog
- Changing diet, feeding, handling, sleeping and exercise routines
- Training your dog to obey certain commands to establish routes of communication, change your dog's expectations and relationship with you and for use in other treatments
- Environmental changes e.g. reinforcing fencing
- Use of synthetic pheromones
- Developing strategies for managing and controlling behaviour where a cure is not possible or practical
- In some cases Stephanie may discuss liaising with your Vet about the possible use of medications to temporarily alter your dog's emotional state
- Occasionally it may be necessary to discuss whether owner and dog can continue to live together
Stephanie is only able to see clients on veterinary referral and is currently only taking new clients from her established referring veterinary practices. If you are unsure whether your practice is included please feel free to get in touch via the enquiry form here.
The first step in the behaviour assessment and modification process is to eliminate any possible physical causes for or influences over your dog's behaviour. Stephanie will therefore need to liaise with your Vet before the consultation goes ahead. Whether your dog needs to be examined for your Vet to make the referral will usually depend on when he or she was last seen and whether your Vet is already aware of the problem behaviour. If your dog's problem behaviour is found to have a physical cause or influence a behavioural consultation may still be beneficial, depending on the nature of the problem. You are welcome to call Stephanie for an informal chat before your Vet is contacted if you would like to find out more about the consultation process first.
The initial consultation starts by looking at the reasons for your dog's behaviour and what changes you hope to achieve. Stephanie will then discuss the overall plan of treatment for your dog and get things started by demonstrating the first steps. She will agree some specific tasks or goals with you for the next few weeks and give you a brief written outline of these. You will receive a full report detailing the key aspects of your dog's problem behaviour, the reasons for it, your dog's prognosis for improvement and a more detailed description of the programme of treatment during the following week. Your Veterinary Surgeon will also be given a copy of the initial report and kept informed of progress.
The first follow up visit will be arranged once you have completed the initial tasks, or sooner if you feel you would like more practical help with following them. At this visit Stephanie will review your progress, provide practical help with any areas you may be having difficulty with and then explain and demonstrate the second stage of the treatment. Additional follow up visits can then be arranged to help with implementation of the treatment as required. The need for these varies with the severity of the problem and the preference of the owner. Stephanie will be available by phone or email throughout the programme in case of query.
Example case - Immy
Immy came to live with Caroline and Toby when she was just 3 weeks old after being rescued from a family that were neglecting her. She matured into an easy going and gentle dog. She loved her walks but never strayed far, preferring to stay close to her owner and always coming when called. It therefore came as a complete surprise when one day Immy bolted off twice mid walk and wouldn't come back. Caroline described her behaviour as totally out of character and felt she was showing strong signs of being afraid of something all the way back to the car. Thinking it was an isolated incident Caroline took Immy out again to the same place a few days later. This time she ran straight back to the car within a few minutes. Caroline therefore tried walking her closer to home instead, but her fearful behaviour started to spread until she was showing signs of fear even when being walked in her home estate. Caroline therefore decided it was time to get some help. Although the trigger for the first incident was never identified, it became clear that Immy's worry that it may recur had caused her fear to spread to more and more situations. Walks had to be suspended for a short time to prevent further deterioration or the risk she may run off again and get lost or injured. We then developed a programme of desensitisation and counter conditioning to gradually rebuild her confidence in open spaces, which Caroline patiently followed over a period of a few weeks. Immy is now back to her old self and enjoying her walks with her friends, as can be seen aside (Immy is the brown dog on the right).
"Immy has always loved her walks so when her behaviour changed so dramatically we knew something was really up. Steph gave us advice before she'd even visited to help stop the situation getting any worse. She then gave us the first few steps to follow during her first visit followed up by a written plan a few days later. It was hard work juggling her walks with a toddler and husband with a broken leg to look after but my work with her was soon rewarded when she started to show little improvements. Its taken us a few months to get to where we are now but I'm so pleased to say we're back enjoying long family walks and Immy's thoroughly enjoying her rediscovered love of time off her lead. Steph's support throughout the entire time was priceless".