Pet Behavior Counseling

Green Acres Kennel Shop offers behavior consulting for dogs. Typical behavior problems with dogs include but are not limited to: aggression and reactivity (growling, barking, lunging, and/or biting of people, dogs, or other animals), fears and phobias (thunderstorms, loud noises, children, fireworks, separation anxiety, etc.), destructive behavior, nuisance barking and excessive stress and anxiety.

The following article from my blog, Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do?, will give you some guidance on my recommendations on how to proceed. - http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/03/help-my-dog-is-aggressive-reactive-fearful-anxious-etc-what-do-i-do/

Behavior consulting is not the same as training (see FAQs below). Changing your pet’s behavior will take time, patience, and commitment on your part. It is imperative to understand going into this process that it is not always possible to alter an animal’s behavior to the desired level; many factors are at play, some of which we have no control over such as genetics and illness.

If you have questions on behavior consulting, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section at the end of this document or on our website: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/behavior-consultations/frequently-asked-questions

The Process

Do NOT Punish Your Dog for Their Behavior

Punishment, physical or otherwise is extremely unlikely to make your dog less fearful or reactive and is in fact very likely to damage their bond with you. Punishment almost always makes these problems worse. If you are currently using a shock, choke or prong collar with your dog, please stop doing so immediately. Before you choose to work with us we believe that it is important that you understand our approach to training and behavior modification. We suggest that you read our Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs  which can be found at http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/

Talk to Your Veterinarian

If you have not yet done so, before contacting us, please connect with your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s behavioral problem. Many behavioral difficulties can be caused by health-related issues. Your dog's veterinarian needs to rule out any medical issues that could be contributing to your dog’s behavioral problem. We would be doing a grave disservice to your pet to treat a physical malady as a behavioral concern; not only would the problematic behaviors continue, the physical illness would go untreated.

Email or Call Don or Consider a Behavior Help Now! Session

Typically, we will start with a short email or brief telephone conversation (15 minutes free, additional time billed at $75/hour in 15-minute increments ($18.75) to discuss the behavioral issues of concern. We will not be able to resolve your pet’s behavioral issue via email or over the phone, but will only be able to discuss the next steps in the process. If Don is unavailable when you call, please leave your name, a phone number where he can reach you, and the best times to reach you. Don returns calls during regular business hours (M-F 9 AM to 5 PM). Unless there are extenuating circumstances, he will typically return your call or respond to your email within two business days.

If you would prefer that Don see you and your dog in person, email him (contact list) or phone him at 207-945-6841, x103 and ask to make an appointment for a Behavior Help Now! session. Behavior Help Now! sessions are scheduled during regular business hours (M-F 9 AM to 5 PM). They are only meant to determine the recommended course of action for you and your dog; a behavioral consultation, further dog training classes or things you can do at home. Don will not be able to resolve your dog's behavioral issue at a Behavior Help Now! session. The fee for a Behavior Help Now! session is $37.50 for a thirty-minute session.

Sign-Up for Our Pre-Consultation Seminar

If you decide you wish to work with us, we will ask that you attend our Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. seminar. This seminar is held once a month, usually the 3rd Sunday, from 12 PM to 4 PM; however, depending on the number of people attending and the number of questions, this seminar may continue until 5 PM. There is a $50 fee per household for this seminar, and we suggest that ALL adult family members that live with the dog attend. You must register and pay in advance, no later than the Wednesday before the seminar.

The seminar is for people only, so please do NOT bring your dog. We will be discussing behavioral issues in general terms only; we will need to see you and your pet individually to offer behavioral programs designed for your particular situation.

To register, call us at 945-6841 and you can pay with a credit card. We must have at least three individuals, or families signed up for a seminar to move forward. If that should not happen, the seminar will be postponed to the following month.

At the seminar you will gain some general strategies that you can begin using immediately. Topics covered include; common myths about dog behavior, the common causes of aggression and reactivity, their underlying emotions and the role of stress in behavior. We also discuss the importance to refrain from using any and all aversives in training. We provide handouts on canine body language and review common signs dogs give when they are stressed so that attendees are better able to intervene before the dog starts reacting. We also emphasize the absolute need of a management plan that prevents the dog from experiencing the triggers to their fear/aggression while at the same time prevents potential targets of their behavior. Lastly, we discuss the legal and medical perspective of dog bites and how someone can move forward if they choose to work with us.

Attendees will be provided with a handout of over 100 pages which discusses topics covered at the seminar. This includes management strategies, keeping a journal, deal breakers and dog bites, tools that may help relieve stress and minimize problem behaviors, common reasons for aggression and reactivity, signs of anxiety and stress in dogs, how dogs communicate, and training behaviors useful in managing dogs with reactivity. We stress the importance of using positive reinforcement for training and avoiding all use of positive punishment and negative reinforcement.

Once you have registered and paid for the seminar, you will be sent an email with links to several articles we suggest that you read before the seminar.

<Download a registration form for the seminar>

Start Keeping a Daily Journal

No matter whom you see to help with the problem you are experiencing with your dog, we recommend that you immediately start a daily journal. Dedicate a computer file or notebook for this purpose. If you keep your journal in a word processing file on your computer, it will make it easier for you to share it with us before your consultation.

Your journal should contain the following basic information:

  • General comments on your pets overall demeanor for that day.
  • General comments on your overall demeanor for that day.
  • A description of any positive events that day.
  • General comments on your overall day (hectic, relaxed, etc.).
  • A description of any undesirable behavior noticed, with as much detail as possible.
  • Any additional stressors that may have occurred that day or within the previous 24 hours (vet trips, children visiting, etc.).
  • An overall score for that day (1=very frustrating/difficult to 5=perfect).
  • Your goal for the next day.
  • The times that any medications or supplements, prescribed or over-the-counter, that are being given for behavioral purposes, are given.
  • Training sessions completed that day; to include times of training, behaviors worked on, people involved, progress made, difficulties encountered and other details.

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Manage Your Dog and It’s Environment

One of the most critical components to changing your dog’s behavior is to manage them and their environment to prevent the undesired behavior from happening.  In other words, if your dog reacts aggressively towards people coming into your home, have the dog in a crate in another room before answering the door. If your dog is reactive to other dogs, keep them away from other dogs. This is important for two reasons; 1) safety – we do not want any person or any dog, including yours, to get injured and 2) every time your dog exhibits an undesirable behavior it become more likely to happen again making it harder to change.

Complete Questionnaire, Veterinary Referral, Daily Journal & Deposit

After you have attended our Pre-Consultation Seminar and contacted us to inform us that you have decided to move forward with a consultation, we will email you a behavioral questionnaire. The questionnaire will be sent to your email address as a PDF form. We ask that you complete the form on your computer, save it, and email it back to us with the additional information noted below.

 Veterinary Referral

We require a referral letter from your veterinarian to proceed with a consultation. If your veterinarian determines that there are no medical reasons that could be responsible for your pet’s behavioral issue, please ask them for a referral letter on their clinic’s letterhead at this time. The letter needs to specify the following seven items:

  • The date
  • Your name
  • Your pet’s name, species, and breed (if known)
  • The current status of your pet’s health
  • Request for a referral for a behavioral consultation
  • The veterinarian’s understanding of the behavioral issue
  • Permission to use Bach Flower Remedies

 An example is as follows:

March 1, 2015

“I am referring Fido, a two-year-old mixed breed dog, owned by John Doe to you for a behavioral consultation to include the use of Bach Flower remedies. It is my understanding, based upon conversations with Mr. Doe that Fido is displaying aggression towards visitors to the home. At this time there are no apparent underlying medical or physical conditions that are contributing to this behavioral concern.”

 Daily Journal

When submitting your questionnaire and referral letter from your veterinarian, we also request that you send us an updated copy of your daily journal.

 Deposit

We require that you make a $350 deposit at the time you submit the behavioral questionnaire, your daily journal, and the veterinary referral. Once we have these items, they will be reviewed by both Don and Kate, typically within 5 to 10 business days of its receipt. At this point, all time spent on your case will be billed at $75/hour which will be deducted from your deposit. You will be invoiced for any costs that exceed the deposit.

Upon review of these materials, we may email you with additional questions. Once all of the questions have been answered and reviewed we will call you to book a time for you to bring your pet in for the initial consultation. At this time, we will also recommend that you schedule a Follow-Up Consultation approximately four weeks after the initial consultation.

 

The Initial Consultation

We strongly recommend that all adult family members that live with the dog attend the consultation. You will meet with both Kate and Don, and at the end of the consultation we will review our recommendations verbally and provide you with your pet’s first bottle of Bach Flower Remedies. After the consultation, we will prepare a written copy of our recommendations along with handouts to help you implement what we recommend, which we will send you via email. This process may be delayed if additional issues come up during the consultation, which were not indicated in the behavior questionnaire. We will also send a report to your veterinarian.

The Follow-Up Consultation

At the follow-up consultation you may meet with one or both of us. We will review your daily journal and discuss the progress you have made on the behavior modification and training exercises we have suggested. At that time we may make changes in the exercises and in the Bach Flower formula, we have suggested.

Continued Assistance Implementing Recommendations

If you need our assistance implementing our recommendations with your pet, we are available for that purpose at the rate of $75/hour, billed in 15-minute increments.

Fees

Our fee for a behavior consultation services is $75/hour and is billed in 15-minute increments ($18.75). We bill for the initial phone call after the first 15 minutes, review of your pet’s records, behavior questionnaire, daily journal and emails, in-person consultations, preparation of handouts and behavior modification plans and working with you and your pet on the implementation of those plans. Your first bottle of Bach Flower Remedies is included; additional bottles will be $9 per bottle. We will also provide you with instructions on how to prepare the remedies if you wish to do that yourself. We ask for a payment of $350 as a retainer at the time you submit your completed questionnaire. Any funds remaining at the conclusion of our services will be returned. Additional fees will be billed as they are incurred.

How Much Does A Consultation Typically Cost?

Each case is different, and thus costs may vary widely. The cost of a pet behavior consultation depends directly on the amount of time we spend working with you. The base cost is $75/hour. Travel to your home is billed at $75/hour, portal to portal.

  

The costs indicated in this table are average costs. Your actual costs may be different.

Task (Time)

Cost @ $75/hr.

Initial Phone Call (first 15 minutes is free, 15 to 45 minutes additional)

$18.75 to $37.50

Help Now! ( 30 to 60 minutes)

$37.50 to $75

Pre-Consultation Seminar  (180 minutes)

$30

Review of questionnaire, daily journal and veterinary records (60 to 120 minutes)

$75 to $150

Initial In-person consultation with family and pet (60 to 120 minutes)

$75 to $150

Preparation of written recommendations, handouts, protocols and letter to your veterinarian (60 to 180 minutes)

$75 to $225

Assistance implementing protocols (0 minutes to 120 minutes)

$0 to $150

Follow-up In-person consultation with family and pet (60 to 120 minutes)

$75 to $150

Additional Bottles of Bach Flower Remedies

$9 per bottle

Approximate total (210 minutes to 885 minutes)

$425 to $1,000+

 
 
 

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