Simply put, a dog behaviourist is someone who works to modify or change the behaviour of a dog or dogs. This can be someone who has many years of experience with handling dogs, or it could be someone who has worked to get a degree in this chosen subject. Many have backgrounds in several different areas, such as zoology, biology, or animal behaviour. Perhaps most importantly, whilst many people work with dogs to improve or modify their behaviour, only someone with an obtained graduate degree can become a professional dog behaviourist.
There are many reasons why you’d need to hire a dog behaviourist; If your dog is urinating or defecating in inappropriate areas; if it’s howling and barking at all hours of the day and night; if it’s aggressive or anxious around people or other animals.
Depending on what the problem is, a dog behaviourist will use different skills and techniques to improve or modify the dog’s behaviour. These techniques include basic obedience training, for example teaching the dog to sit, lay down, stay, or leave, as well as good manners when greeting people or other animals, walking nicely on a lead and appropriate toilet training.
Firstly, a consultation will need to take place, so the dog behaviourist can assess your dog’s condition, and pinpoint what is the most pressing matter to deal with. It’s best this consultation takes place at home, rather than at the vet’s, as this will ensure your dog is in a relaxed state when the consultation occurs. If the dog is anxious or stressed from being in the vet’s, it will make it more difficult for the dog behaviourist to make an accurate assessment of your dog’s condition.
The consultations usually last a couple of hours, and will give the dog behaviourist a chance to assess your dog thoroughly. The dog behaviourist may also want to go on a walk with you and your dog, to see how it behaves in a range of different situations. It would be very helpful for the behaviourist if you film any bad behaviour, so they can use it as a reference in the future, and when planning the treatment programme.
Whilst it’s up to the dog behaviourist to come up with a treatment plan, it will be up to you, the owners, to employ the techniques shown to you to ensure your dog continues to make progressive in its behavioural training.
Whilst a dog behaviourist may be expensive, they are most definitely worth hiring to ensure you have a well-behaved dog, and the whole family will benefit.