For You

Working with vets to improve the lives of dogs and their owners across Country Durham.

Does your dog struggle with certain situations, such as passing other dogs on walks, meeting unfamiliar people, being left home alone, letting go of things they have picked up, or fighting with other canine housemates? Depending on the situation, they may growl, snap, bark, lunge, chew or howl.

It can be exhausting and stressful, not just for your dog but for you, too, and you may not be sure what the best strategy is for helping your dogs and addressing the problem behaviour.

Booking our dog behaviour programme is a proactive step towards enhancing your and your dog’s quality of life. Our behaviour modification programme, conducted professionally and compassionately, utilises kind, non-confrontational training methods. It offers a wide range of benefits for you and your canine friend. You will receive a personal assessment with individual, tailored solutions, regular support, and, most importantly, expert insight from a qualified clinical animal behaviourist with twenty years of experience tackling various canine behaviour problems. As a result, communication between you and your dog will improve, ensuring you are better equipped to handle future issues.

This comprehensive and supportive programme acknowledges that dog behaviour problems, such as aggression, lead reactivity, and anxiety, can take time to change, and we understand that every dog is an individual with individual needs.

Rest assured, we are committed to your dog’s behaviour change journey.

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I strongly believe in the importance of collaboration between behaviourists and veterinarians to benefit their clients and their dogs. Choosing a behaviourist can be a daunting task, but the establishment of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) has made significant progress in this field. However, we need to move forward and regulate the animal behaviour industry to ensure the safety and well-being of pets. Currently, it is not illegal for unaccredited or unqualified individuals to offer behaviour services or call themselves ‘behaviourists’. But it is imperative to consult with qualified and accredited professionals to achieve positive outcomes and avoid any negative consequences.

I follow the APBC Code of Practice, which requires me to work on veterinary referrals only. To get started with my services, a veterinary surgeon can refer a client to me either by completing the downloadable APBC Vet Referral form available on this page or by sending an email directly. In case a client reaches out to me directly, I will ask the vet to sign the veterinary referral form before proceeding with any services.

A behaviour consultation can help with the following:

 

  • Fear of noises (gunshots, fireworks, household appliances, bangs).
  • Lunging, pulling, and barking at traffic.
  • Scared of visitors.
  • Pulling, lunging, and barking at dogs on walks.
  • Difficulty being left alone.
  • Snapping and biting when asked to move off furniture.
  • Snapping and biting when they have something they do not want to let go of.
  • Chasing lights/shadows.
  • Destructive chewing.
  • Fighting with other dogs.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Lead reactive behaviour.
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How we will help you:

Our behaviour consultations, conducted on veterinary referrals, are led by experienced professionals. This ensures that your dog’s behaviour issues are thoroughly understood and addressed, without any underlying medical conditions being overlooked.

  • Before the meeting, if your dog’s vet has not referred the case,we will send a vet referral form for the vet to complete. When the vet has signed the form, you (or the vet) email or post it to us before the first appointment.
  • You will receive a goody pack with training rewards.
  • In the first one-and-a-half-hour in-person appointment, we observe your dog/s and how they interact with the family in the home environment. We may also need to monitor your dog outside on a walk.
  • During the first appointment, we will collect a history of your dog’s life, a description of the current living situation, the problem behaviour, the circumstances in which the behaviour happens, and what you or others have done to address the issue so far.
  • We usually teach you to train your dog, but we will demonstrate the techniques with your dog where appropriate. We will also teach you to recognise what causes the behaviour, observe dog body language, and recognise signs of stress.
  • After the first in-person appointment, we complete a written action plan. We develop a management plan that prevents the problem behaviour from occurring and a modification plan that trains a more desirable alternative.
  • We will set up your online coaching account, which is live for three months and upload your plan within seven working days of the first appointment.
  • You are on the programme for three months, and we will conduct fortnightly check-ins via Zoom, email or phone.
  • In the second month, we will conduct a second face-to-face one-and-a-half-hour appointment at your home or a suitable outdoor location on an agreed date to review everything and, where necessary, give you additional homework.
  • We will conduct a final, in-person session with you in the third month and just before programme completion.

Vicky has set up a remote dog behaviour consultation option, which has been popularly requested. This service is available to replace a home visit. It will allow you to discuss your dog’s behaviour issues, get feedback, and give advice on starting behaviour modification. This service will be beneficial for clients wishing to address separation-related problems.

The format for the online consultation is as follows:

A one-hour telephone or online video conversation is convenient to discuss your dog’s issues. We can then discuss advice and strategies to address the behaviour problem. Vicky will contact you at an agreed date and time. We are happy to take calls in the evenings and at weekends.

After the appointment, you will receive a written action plan with supporting handouts.

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Behavioural Services FAQS

How quickly will my dog's behaviour issues be resolved?

Canine behaviour can be highly complex, and there is no quick fix. You can see results early on, but you must work on your dog's daily training for real long-term benefits. There are so many factors to take into consideration when working on behaviour problems, and we have mentioned some below:

- Your dog may be genetically predisposed to behave a certain way. Are you aware of this, and do you know how to channel your dog's behaviour into acceptable activities that meet their needs?
- How long has the problem behaviour been going on?
- Your dog's early experiences (or lack thereof) at under 16 weeks of age will significantly influence their behaviour as an adult.
- Has it escalated or developed into other problem behaviours?
- What has your dog already learned from exhibiting this behaviour?
- Have you inadvertently rewarded the problem behaviour in the past?
- How has the problem behaviour been dealt with in the past?
- What is the underlying reason for your dog's behaviour? For example, your dog may have a medical condition, or their diet may be causing or contributing to the problem.

How much time and effort you can put into helping your dog is crucial to behaviour modification. Behaviour modification can take many months, so are you willing to change your daily routine to help your dog? Are you able to commit to an intensive training programme? Is your dog in an environment where you feel you can improve things? Can you ensure that the training is delivered consistently? Can you increase your dog's mental and physical exercise as a critical programme part? We are here to help you, guide you, and offer the best advice, but you must put work and commitment into your dog.

Why do you do behaviour consultations on vet referrals only?

Behaviour problems in dogs may arise directly or indirectly from concurrent or previous medical issues. Therefore, veterinary involvement is essential in eliminating organic causes of the problem and prioritising the diagnostic and treatment strategy in any given case. Some Pet Insurance Policies will cover fees for behavioural consultations referred by your vet, so check your policy.

The referral is required because your pet must receive a complete medical check-up to rule out the many other medical problems that can cause behavioural changes (liver disease, neurological disease, chronic pain, to name just a few).

How do I get a vet referral for dog behaviour help?
There are a couple of ways this can happen. Your vet may recommend us if they believe your dog may benefit from behaviour modification. If they do, they will need to sign our referral form, or you may contact us directly for an appointment, in which case we will send you the form for your vet to complete. The referral form is on our website.
Will you speak to my vet about my dog’s behaviour?

Under Data Protection laws, we need your permission to do this. Still, if we felt a health issue was involved or that the behaviour modification may benefit from veterinary intervention, we would contact them. After completing the consult, we will send the referring vet a summary of our advice.

Can I claim the cost of behaviour treatment on my dog’s insurance?

As Vicky is a Clinical Animal Behaviourist and full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, you may be able to claim back your dog’ behaviour fees via your pet insurance. In most instances, your insurer will pay our fees minus your excess. Please contact your specific insurer before booking a consultation to determine if such cover is included in your policy.

It is standard practice for clients to pay a clinical animal behaviourist direct who will then provide a receipt for service so that this can be claimed back from the insurance company. Due to the nature of our service, payment is required before the consultation as we offer a service, not a product and a service cannot be returned.

I have a multi dog household, do I have to pay the fee for each dog?

Your behaviour programme fee covers all the dogs living together in the same home. We do not charge per dog. 

How much does it cost?

The three-month programme fee is £320.00, payable once you have decided to book the service. We can accept payment in two separate instalments and can discuss this with you at the time of booking.

It is standard practice for clients to pay the behaviourist directly, who will then provide a receipt for service so that this can be claimed back from the insurance company.

Due to the nature of our service, payment is required before the consultation as we offer a service, not a product, and a service cannot be returned. Again, this is standard practice for registered clinical animal behaviourists.

After three months, we offer follow-on support for a fixed fee of £50.00 monthly.