Schnauzer puppy

Prevention is better than cure

Stephanie Hedges BSc (Hons) CCAB

Canine Behaviour Counsellor


Many problem behaviours can be prevented by ensuring your dog has enough stimulation and is trained to understand basic commands. These can then be used to enable you to communicate with your dog about what you would like him or her to do.

Regrettably Stephanie is currently unable to accept any new behaviour cases. If you are looking for behavioural advice, your vet should be able to refer you to an appropriately qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist. Accredited trainers and behaviourists can also be found on the Animal Behaviour and Training Council website. The follow up service to existing clients is unaffected.

There are lots of ways you can prevent many problem behaviours from starting in the first place. These include:

  • Teaching your dog basic commands that will enable you to communicate what you would like your dog to do. If you would like to attend a training class to learn how to do so go to to find a reputable trainer.
  • Ask your dog to obey a 'sit' command for everything he or she wants in life, just as you would ask a child to 'say please'.
  • Make sure your dog has enough stimulation, exercise and companionship - idle paws will get into trouble! If you have a new puppy it is important to get the right advice from the start.

Example case - Maya

Maya was bred in a puppy farm. By the time she came to live with Elaine and Phil she had already had five homes, so they knew it would take a while for her to settle in. They worked with her and managed to overcome a number of problems in her first few months. However there were a couple of sticking points so they decided to seek some professional help. The first problem was that Maya was waking up very early and asking to go outside. A visit to the Vet was arranged to check for any physical problems and once these had been excluded a programme was developed to establish an acceptable pattern of Maya emptying her bladder at bedtime and then not disturbing her owners again until a suitable time in the morning. During this first contact Elaine and Phil also reported that Maya's behaviour on lead was difficult, especially given her size. She would often pull on the way to the park and would jump around when she saw other dogs. This behaviour was observed and found to be due to excitement. A programme of clicker training was therefore started to teach her to walk to heel. At first she showed significant improvements in both areas. However, her progress then suddenly and unexpectedly fell apart. She also started showing aggression to her companion, Chula, on waking and around food. Further investigations revealed that this sudden deterioration tied in with the start of her first season, a pattern which then recurred over the following months as Maya cycled between seasons and false pregnancies. Advice was given how best to manage this behaviour and prevent it from becoming a habit until Maya could be neutered and the influence of her hormones eliminated. At the same time Elaine and Phil continued to work on her training and teaching her how to remain calm in situations she found exciting. Eventually, through the identification and treatment of the combined triggers for her behaviour and Elaine and Phil's dedication and hard work, they were able to bring her behaviour under control and to enjoy the otherwise gentle and loving dog she is.


"Maya is now coming up to her 2nd birthday and is here to stay. We can see her becoming a very good and well trained dog but it has been a massive commitment from the whole of our family". If you would like to read Elaine's full description of Maya's problems and treatment programme click here.

Mob: 07969 121559 Fax: 01604 420007
For email contact, please click here.

Website design by Silvania Studios. Copyright 2016.