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Thread: Dog Behaviourist - Have You Used?

  1. #1
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    Default Dog Behaviourist - Have You Used?

    Hello All

    It has been suggested here that I see a dog behaviourist, maybe Mark Singer in Adelaide.

    I have contacted him with all the information and he has hit it on the head when he says that maybe Neddie is always leaving the house in a state of aggression and pulling on the lead. I try not to let him, but he always leaves the house first pulling on the lead.

    Anyway I thought Mark seemed to know what he was talking about in his email and mentioned to people at work, but they seem to think I am being conned and too much money to spend. They also think I should be able to fix the problem myself from googling etc.

    Has anyone here used a Dog Behaviourist? What did you think? Was it worth it? Did he/she come to your house or did you go to them?

    I'm keen for any information you might have before I make my decision.

    Thanks again

    Kristy

  2. #2
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    Hi Kristy, I too had a dog that I needed help with. I researched extensively on the net and joined dog aggression groups etc. All very helpful but it is often difficult to make real headway when you have not experienced this behaviour before.

    I went to sees a behaviourist. The first one I saw I considered a waste of money. I sat and took notes for a couple of hours and he charged big bucks. He also told me my dog had dominance aggression which was rubbish, and suddenly jumped up and shouted Boo at my dog who was severly fearful especially of men and strange environments. Well that frightened her so much that all the hard work I had done on her with men was immediately undone. I was furious.

    I got a recommendation off someone else and I made an appointment. She was fantastic. I had a good long hands on session where she showed me so much and explained so much. After that I felt much better equiped to continue on my own. She also held reactive rover type classes for her clients where she would work with a maximum of 6 dogs in a class once a week.

    She worked very much with more positive methods and also with a vet who had a special interest in aggression and understood the thyroid tests etc.

    It is very stressful dealing with an aggressive dog and I would highly recommend getting some help. However do make sure you and the person you see are on the same page when it comes to training. Never let someone do something to your dog that you are uncomfortable with.

    I took my dog to see them because fear of strange environments was her main problem. If your problem stems from leaving home maybe it is better for them to come to you. The trainer should be able to recommend.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 12-17-2010 at 10:36 AM.

  3. #3

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    Kristy,
    I have used them & gone to a few training days & have found it very helpful, I find I use what I learnt from an animal behavouist daily.
    Not all are legit though so do your reserch & talk to others that have used the behavouist you are thinking of using[I have heard of mark, he's meant to be the real deal].
    I prefere for them to come to me but there are situations where it's hard to really get a feel for the dogs true issues with the owner doing the handling & therefore maybe clouding the dogs issues with the owners own bad habits. But there should ALWAYS be training for the owner not just the dog & if dog's trained at the trainers kennels then follow up training should be done at the owners place[on dogs own teritory]. The trainer should make sure you know how to mantain the training & give you some activities to do to continue the dogs further training at home.
    Whoever you get make sure you are both on the same page as to what you are wanting to achieve with the behavour modifacation & training.

  4. #4
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    fitnhealthy

    I went to Steve Courtney's (aka K9 Pro/ K9 force) workshop when he was in Adelaide last May.

    If he recommended Mark Singer for helping with aggression problems (which I don't have), I would go with his recommendation because Steve really knows what he's doing regards rehab for aggressive dogs, and he wouldn't recommend someone he didn't trust to do the right thing by your dog.

    But Steve also puts an article about how check out a dog behaviourist and make sure you're happy you're getting your money's worth...
    How to Choose a Dog Trainer

    Read the other articles too so you know what to expect from a behaviourist/trainer.

    There are some behaviourists / dog trainers that would be a complete waste of time with aggression issues, but might help with other problems like recall and toilet training and barking. You need a specialist.

    If you think it costs too much - discuss that up front and find out why the trainer charges what he (or she) does, and how much time they're prepared to put in and what backup support they are prepared to give for the money. Also discuss techniques and make very sure the trainer knows which ones you are and are not comfortable with. For example - if you're not prepared to crate train your dog because you think it's cruel (I don't) - be up front about that if the trainer asks you to do that. They may have an alternate method that works for you or they may decide they can't help you and you both can move on without wasting any time and money.

    I agree that it would be best if you and the trainer go where the problems start and if that's at home - start there. And the most important thing is the trainer trains you how to train your dog. A trainer that takes your dog away and "fixes" it without teaching you anything is a complete waste of time for all of you and may ruin your dog.

    So you also need a trainer that you feel comfortable with. If he freaks you out or makes you uncomfortable then maybe he's not the person for you. The trainer has to be almost as good with people as he is with dogs, ie he has to find out what you need and work out how to present it to you in a way you can absorb, learn and use.

  5. #5
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    Hyacinth thank you for such good advice that helps heaps. I will read through his articles and see what I can learn. At the moment just working on getting neddie outside without pulling and me first. We have got out the door lol, but that's it so far. He is a quick learner though. Very smart

  6. #6
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    The way I work on pulling with my dog is a couple of things...

    1. I stop moving forward (I stop rewarding her).
    2. I call her back to me - if she doesn't come, I reel her in with the lead or turn and walk the other way.
    3. When she's where I want her, I give her a treat or I take a step forward...

    For things she wants to bark at like ladies with umbrellas at the beach...
    1. I stop moving forward
    2. I reel her in - I don't want to break my recall word, but sometimes like if she turns and looks at me when I stop, I encourage her back to me and she comes.
    3. I move between her and the exciting thing and distract her with treats and words and reward everytime she focusses on me and the food instead of exciting thing over there.
    4. I walk in the opposite direction until she's calm.

    At the beach I mostly keep walking in the opposite direction but sometimes if I want to re-inforce the training ie no need to be barking your head off and lunging after the whatever it is - I will turn back and repeat the exercise where she's calm and reward for calm and then continue to approach until she starts to get just a little bit excited and then I block and feed... etc. So I keep re-inforcing the calm behaviour and trying to reduce distance...

    We have horses exercising on our beach before 8am but sometimes they're late getting off and it does get very exciting for a dog that doesn't get to see or play with horses often.

  7. #7
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    I have been trying the first 2 things hyacinth and he is getting better at turning when I stop, maybe treats could help a little more too. It's hard work learning how to train, but well worth it.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by fitnhealthy View Post
    I have been trying the first 2 things hyacinth and he is getting better at turning when I stop, maybe treats could help a little more too. It's hard work learning how to train, but well worth it.
    Congrads & very well worth it, nothing better than feeling like you have really made a difference for the better to a dogs behavour.

  9. #9
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    I have a dog that will pull like a steam train out the door. I play the Its your choice type games from Susan Garrett. I use the clicker and shape his behaviour at the door. So it is his choice. I dont direct him. If he offers a sit he gets a click and reward. If he moves while I am opening the door I stop and wait. If he offers a sit he gets rewarded. You can also shape calm behaviour.

    I would first teach him what a clicker means and then I practice sits and downs etc around the house so I dont take him straight to the front door and expect him to understand. Once he understands shaping, I would practice on internal doors and eventually move to the front door.

    My dog now sits immediately we get to the front door and waits while I open it. I just stop immediately if he moves. I dont say anything, just wait for him to settle again. It used to take me awhile to get out the front door, but because it is his choice now if we get out the font door or not, he really understands what I want.

    In term of my fear aggressive dog, she was totally clicker and obedinece trained and I always worked her at a distance where she wasnt reacting to whatever stressed her. Getting closer and closer. I taught her to look at what was upsetting her and then look straight back at me.

    The session I had with th trainer was helpful becuae she showed me how to pick certain body signals like tongue flicking and yawning and subtle ear and tail movements for example. She also taught me the importance of timing and how to recognise it.

    I dont know what your dogs problem is but mine was severly fear aggressive and with a lot of hard work I got her to the point of being reasonably reliable and less stressed out in public.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 12-19-2010 at 03:39 PM.

  10. #10
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    I have also...I have had two experiences, one very bad and one amazingly good.
    Both for the same dog.......I brought home a newfie girl at 14 month of age, who was known to be aggressive and unruly. the first few weeks she was not too bad and we did a lot of training. But at week three, she went ballistic.........My hubby and I both had a lot of experience at dog training and ownership, but she was beyond us. One to one she was great with me, but due to her abusive pervious life, she was worried about hubby and extremely aggressive our other dog. Who did not help the situation by not backing down. Even though the newf out-weighed her by lots.
    I went to a vet behaviorist.....utter sh...t she was. She charged a tonne and in the end told me to crate my dog at all time, if not on leash and after the second visit to put her down. In tears i tried to find someone else. i went to our Obedience Club and struck the worst person there, who said "we do not deal with aggressive dogs" (since have met wonderful helpful people there). Went to the phone book and found Scott......he was our saviour. he told me it would cost both time, dollars and commitment. I told him I would do anything to help her and from there we went.
    Annabelle is now a soft sweet newfie, who gets on well with her house mate Tessa and she is e Social Butterfly at the Kennel Club. Loves all dogs and people.
    There were no set rules, there was common sense, commitment and lots of time. We did things that were just so sensible and at times we were tough, but mostly kind. we gave her confidence by using agility and games. there were no rules of you have to do this and this. it was all as you saw it at the moment.
    From having two dogs that could not be together and a dog who lunged at everyone and every dog, we now have Annabelle, the gorgeous newf. Mostly we had done all the right things, we just had not done enough of it and not taken the time. and play. so that Annabelle could gain confidence. we did not to growling rolls or power games. Only when they actually got into a fight did we pull them apart and yell at them, which is only natural.
    So I have a great and lousy experience. I think it is not the title the person carries, but their ability and I think a lot of it is natural not out of a book. just watching Scott around dogs, you can see how he reads dogs.
    he is our hero and Annabelle adores him, which is all telling in itself.We now still do a lot of socializing and obedience and Annabelle has her CCD and we are trying for our CD.
    As a side story........A few month ago i had to go to the vet again, my Vet was busy and i was waiting. The Vet behaviourist came by as we were sitting in the waiting room amongst a lot of other friendly dogs. And she stopped and said "oh, you have got yourself a new newfie". Well i lost the plot and told her on public (which is not how I am usually) that this is the dog she told me to PTS. i made a fool of myself, because the tears came (fool). She still makes me so angry. Anyway, i need to get over it
    Last edited by newfsie; 12-19-2010 at 04:33 PM.
    Pets are forever

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