I have been considering writing this blog post for a number of weeks now, for a number of reasons. The dog industry is (unfortunately) rife with emotive arguments and propaganda with people pushing agendas and their ideologies combined with pseudo science or people that simply ignore it, opposed to looking out for the best interests of the individual dog and continuously furthering their knowledge, skill set and alternatives to increase their ability to help dogs and the people that are their guardians (owners). So I write this in the hope that it may help others seek and gain a better understanding of their dog and advice or referal to a professioanl that will assist them.
What initially prompted me to want to write this was after receiving a call from a distressed women whom was desperately seeking help after she was advised to euthanize her dog due to it’s “aggressive” behaviour.
After gaining further information and details about her dog “Bella”, I agreed to come and assess and work with her and the dog. When I got there, Bella’s owner showed me the daily diary she had been keeping for the past 9 months of every interaction she had with her dog from feeding times, to how many times she barked per day, as requested by the veterinary behaviourist she had been working with during this 9 month period. Now imagine how detailed and long a daily interaction record keeping diary would be after 9 months; WOW!
I continued to ask questions in regards to what they had been working on with Bella, I was dumbfounded to learn that apart from giving Bella the prescribed medication, Bella’s owner couldn’t really tell me anything that they had been working on as the behaviourist had never handled the dog nor helped or demonstrated any training techniques or provide advice on obedience.
I continued to ask questions as I thought I must be misunderstanding what she was saying, but it’s pretty clear when you are told “No the “behaviourist” didn’t touch Bella or take the leash, ever! The “behaviourist” would not come near her!”
Now I could go on in regards to the multiple things I would and did do differently in order to help Bella and her owner in gaining a better understanding of Bella’s behaviour and getting it under control, however the point of this blog is to hopefully provide relief to other dog owners and hopefully open the minds of other professionals in the industry. So here it is in a blunt format.
- 9 months of weekly, fortnightly then monthly appointments with the veterinary behaviourist.
- Bella’s owner was unable to share any learning she gain during his period.
- Bella started medication
- The veterinary behaviourist NEVER, handled or touched the lead or Bella
- The behaviourist advised euthanasia
Now you can imagine the distress this would cause if you received this advice from a professional.
In my first session with Bella, I explained why Bella was displaying and performing the behaviour that she was and immediately put the basics of training in place.
We started to crate train Bella and counter condition her excessive barking response to my presence whilst she was in the crate which we placed in the lounge room.
This was the first time Bella had been allowed in the house when guests were over and her first interaction with other people for nearly 12 months. The homework set was to continue to crate train Bella so she enjoyed walking in and laying down in her crate on her own free will and continue with the counter- conditioning steps provided.
The following week I returned to Bella’s home to see the progress.
They say a picture paints a 1000 words, so I’ll let these pictures tell the story.
Now it frustrates the heck out of me that a professional had been coming and “advising” on Bella’s behaviour for 9 months (which doesn’t come cheap), with zero results or contact with Bella, only to end with the advice to euthanize.
Now for those that don’t know me or haven’t seen me work with a dog, I don’t take my eyes off, nor drop my guard when I am working with a dog that I perceive as a threat to my wellbeing. As you can clearly see, Bella and I are having great fun, taking selfies and in the photo’s below, demonstrating Bella doesn’t want to dominate me when I lie down on the floor, infact she comes and joins me.
I have since referred Bella to a professional dog walker, that happily follows my recommendations when walking Bella and I keep in regular contact to see how Bella is thriving.
The really frustrating and unfortunate thing is, I have had multiple calls from people that have similar stories in regards to their dogs and this behaviourist. My frustration lies in the fact that people get so caught up in their own ego, qualifications and ideologies that the unsuspecting dog owner gets the short end of the stick, and ultimately, it’s the dog that pays with it’s life.
It is this notion and these illogical ideals that is seeing 1000’s of dogs die every day. But due to the “romantic” explanation of how using flawed training techniques and applications gains momentum as it sounds fantastic; the truth is it’s killing dogs.
Where has the integrity gone? Like I referred Bella to a professional dog walker, as this is what was and is in her best interest at this point, why are there so many “professionals” in the industry that choose not to refer to colleagues that may be more experienced in that particular field? Instead, they put it in the too hard basket or it doesn’t fit or work with their preferred techniques so they advise that ending the dog’s life is the way to go.
There are some cases where I will personally refer and advise other professionals due to their experience in an area of behaviour or work in conjunction with them as many other professionals have referred clients to me also. It should always come down to what is in the best interest of the dog, a trait that unfortunately isn’t always common practice in this industry.
So to those professionals that are aware that working together will get the best results for the dog, I would like to thank you, it doesn’t go unnoticed and more importantly, the dogs that are intrusted into our charge, have the best possible care and results to help support them and the people that welcomed them into their families.
For those that haven’t yet discovered the truth in the term “in the dog’s best interest” or haven’t considered referring on in the best interest of the dog, I implore you to grow as a professional and join in the power of referral to others that may very well make the world of positive difference, not only in your life but also the live of the dogs and their families.
Thank you to the following people for being active in the betterment in dogs lives and for making the effort to keeping ego’s out of the way of helping people and their dogs.
Brad Griggs – Canine Services International
Pat Stuart – MS Kennels
Lauren Hoyle – Pawfect Behaviour
Laura Taft – Honest to Dog
Chris Loverseed – Positive K9
Brydie Charlesworth – Brydie Charlesworth Dog Training
Daniel Mannix – Victorian Dog Training Academy
Jean Claude Bertoni – K9IQ
Trish Harris – Four Paws K9 Training
Kerstin Keimling – K9Fun
Catherine Rains (Webb)
Boyd Hooper – Task9
Alyssa Rankin Canine Compass
David Haywood –The Canine Classroom
Rachael Dols – Unleashed Artistry
Mishelle Dench – VicDog
And many others…
So don’t be afraid of asking for help or a referal for a second opinion.
Here is a photo of Bella on a recent walk 🙂
We hope to see you at training soon so we can help you with improving the relationship with your dog.