The first step on any difficult journey is admitting you need help. And boy, did I need help!
Enter the Behaviourist.
To get a better idea of the first steps of the journey with Phoebe you can read this post. But in summary, through a ‘series of unfortunate events’ Phoebe unexpectedly arrived in my home full of fears, anxiety and general shell-shock. It was time to call in the professionals. For Phoebe’s well being, as well as my own.
With my previous canine best friends I had completed brief Obedience Courses, which was more to just get a little bit of control and social contact for my new companions, there was never a need for more intervention. And to be honest, whenever I heard about people consulting Animal Psychologists or Behaviourists I would scoff at them for being either Drama Queens, or at my worst, even make snap judgements that clearly they weren’t capable of doing something as simple as looking after a dog.
Boy, did Karma decide to teach me a lesson about my ignorance!
After many tears and frustration I managed to find a great behaviourist in my area. After just the first consult I already felt more empowered and confident that I could deal with all the challenges Phoebe was presenting.
The behaviourist I found was calm, authoritative and a strong champion of positive reinforcement and cognitive training. She did in depth evaluations, answered all my questions, and continues to encourage and teach me. We had an initial consultation, and she tailored the Basic Obedience Classes perfectly by matching me up with another strained rescue dog, and then slowly introducing us to the rest of the class – all at a perfect pace for both Phoebe and I. I cannot sing her praises enough.
I know that there is still so much hard work ahead of us, but knowing that I have such a strong pillar to lean on really helps. We got Phoebe through her first Basic Obedience qualification, she attends weekly classes, and we’re even going to take a shot at getting a “Canine Good Citizen” certification this year – I’m realistic that the “greeting other dogs” category will likely be her downfall, but I want to at least try, if we fail there’s always next year!
My strongest recommendation to anyone who has a reactive/scared/difficult dog is to find a behaviourist to help you out. In fact, even if you feel your dog is doing just fine, I still recommend consulting a behaviourist the day you get that cute puppy just to know how to avoid any future problems – remember: “Prevention is the Best Cure“!
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Summary:
Issue Addressed: All. Separation Anxiety, Reactivity, Fear, Play, Obedience, Stimulation
Tool(s) Used: All. Most used resource is time – time to attend classes, go on regular walks, implement tips and techniques
Cost: Medium to High. This will vary depending on consultation fees, issues addressed and regularity of attending classes / consults
Ease of Implementation: Low to High. It will depend on what techniques and issues you are working on.
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5
Have you ever consulted a Behaviourist for help with your dog/dogs? What was your experience?