One to One Behavioural & Training Consultations
Over the years we have carried out rehabilitation work on virtually every breed, suffering from dog aggression or aggression to humans, separation anxiety, nervousness, excessive barking, poor recall, livestock issues and all other commonly encountered dog behaviour problems.
Whilst having a specialist background in Rottweilers and German Shepherds, one look at the client reviews page will show you that we actually specialise in all breeds of dog. Many of our small-breed clients have said that the reason they have contacted us, is that they have confidence that if we can deal with Rottweilers, we can deal with anything!
Whilst we use non-harsh training methods and positive reinforcement and abhor the use of electric shock collars or e-collars as their advocates like to refer to them, we also abhor the over-reliance on food reward which has become common-place in recent years. When one sees the chain-feeding of treats which goes on at many puppy classes these days, there is little wonder that canine obesity is a major problem in the UK.
If the owner creates a positive bond with their dog and instigates good standards of leadership, there is no need for such ridiculous levels of ‘tasty treats’ and I am at a loss as to understand how I have been able to get good standards of obedience and behaviour from every dog I have ever owned (getting on for 20 Rottweilers and 8 Gsd’s) without the use of loads of treats or electric collars! There is virtually no use of treats in the training of UK Police dogs, which are amongst the most highly trained dogs in the world. Neither do they use electric shock collars or other harsh training methods.
We have no problem per se with the use of treats, but their excessive use is counter-productive and of course, when one is dealing with things such as aggression, any experienced, successful behaviourist will tell you that these dogs are rarely interested in treats at stressful times, such as when another dog is approaching.
With some behaviourists, there appears to be no plan b and of course, failing to plan is planning to fail. Our dog training and behaviour methods involve the use of calm, positive reinforcement of good and acceptable behaviours and assertive disruption of unacceptable behaviour.
Behaviourist Must Visit You
Occasionally, one hears of dog behaviourists who don’t conduct home visits, making their clients visit them at their home or office. With all respect to these professionals, this is not the most effective way to operate and all assessments should be conducted at the dog’s home.
By not seeing the dog and owners in their home environment, one misses so much evidence and information, which is vital to understanding how their problem behaviour manifested itself in the first place. Not only that, but the dog is unlikely to behave in the same way in an alien location and neither is the owner.
We strongly believe that virtually all behaviourists are well aware that a home visit is the most effective way to go, so those who don’t conduct them are doing so for their own benefit, rather than their clients.
Following your intial enquiry and booking an appointment, we will send you a questionnaire which you need to return prior to the appointment. Your answers help us to compile a behavioural profile of your dog, identifying its relevant drives and traits which play a significant part in making it behave as it does. Awareness of these drives is vital in order for you to understand the psychology behind his problem behaviour and this will form part of our discussions during our appointment at your home.
The initial assessment takes about three hours to complete and is a combination of actual assessment, theory and practical work. We observe the way you interact with your dog and obtain further information during the ‘interview’ part of our meeting. The practical aspects involve putting the dog into the situations where it is likely to exhibit its problem behaviour, identifying the appropriate means of dealing with it and giving you appropriate leadership and handling instruction.
So for instance, if your dog has a dog aggression problem the practical elements of our initial meeting will involve your dog meeting at least one of our dogs on-lead in a ‘real world’ situation, on a street near your home and also where appropriate off-lead in a suitable location such as your garden.
This gives us the opportunity to assess your dog’s level of aggression in a controlled, safe manner and also the way in which you handle him. From there, we instruct you how to handle him at these moments of potential confrontation and how to stop him from reacting in an aggressive manner. This not only takes high levels of expertise from us, but also good judgement and instructional skills. A good leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way!
At the end of the assessment, we give the client detailed instructions on exactly what they need to be doing with their dog, both inside and outside the home and follow this up within 48 hours with a detailed behavioural development plan. We also make telephone contact within this period, so that we can talk over the first couple of days progress. The client can ring us at any time if they have any worries or concerns.
Follow-Up Environmental Sessions
You may read claims on some behaviourists’ websites, that one visit will suffice, no matter what the problem and no follow-up sessions will be necessary. Some of the behaviourists making these claims are well known figures and I will tell you here and now that they are talking RUBBISH. I don’t care who you are or what your experience in behavioural work is, there is no way that any behaviourist can make such guarantees honestly.
When one considers some of the dog aggression issues we have dealt with in the past, it would be criminal to leave the client to get on with it after one home visit and a development plan, without ongoing practical guidance from us in real world situations over a number of sessions. No amount of telephone and email support can make up for a lack of actual expert presence on walks with the owner after the initial assessment, when handling problems continue to be ‘instructed away’.
Can you think of many fields of practical tuition where this would be allowed to happen, let alone in the world of dog aggression etc. where owners can fall foul of the law very easily? Such a suggestion is almost as ludicrous as telling a learner driver that they will be safe to drive after just one lesson! So you can rest assured, that Peter and Jayne Mounsey will not abandon you and your dog to your fate after pocketing our fee.
We conduct environmental sessions, which as their name suggests, take place in public areas, suitable for dealing with the subject dog’s issues. So if it has dog aggression problems, we are going to be working in public dog-walking areas, where we can expect to meet and ultimately socialise with other dogs and their owners. These sessions are all about continuing the work commenced during the initial assessment and improving the owner’s handling skills and confidence.
Clients who had previously been doing all they could to avoid meeting other dogs, now actively seek them out as they see their own leadership and handling skills developing with their rapidly improving dog. I am sure any dog owner reading this, will see that these sessions are essential. These sessions may include socialisation with a ‘pack’ to increase the client’s confidence in meeting groups as well as single dogs. We also use these sessions to teach the client’s dog to come away from other dogs it meets too, when the owner says, rather than when the dog feels like it!
We never underestimate the dramatic loss of confidence which owners suffer when their dogs first start to exhibit aggressive tendencies, being subjected to abuse from other dog owners and all the shame and embarrassment this leads to, let alone the potential for falling foul of the law. By working with you and your dog in public places where we are always accountable for our actions, we demonstrate our confidence in our training methods and experience.
Other environmental work depending on the actual behavioural problem, includes going to locations where there are livestock; railway stations; cycle paths; town centres etc. wherever is necessary to work on the dog’s problem behaviour.
The only time we will make the claim that it will generally not be neccessary to see you and your dog again for environmental work, is where the problem occurs exclusively in the home, for instance separation anxiety, barking at visitors etc. In those cases, we generally find that one visit does suffice and our lifetime free telephone and email support is generally all the owner needs. We will not ignore your emails and telephone calls!
Other claims made by some behaviourists involve paying an enhanced fee which will ‘guarantee’ unlimited follow-up visits, even if the dog develops a completely different problem to the one first dealt with. Our only comment on this is, if a claim seems unrealistic it probably is. The only ‘unlimited’ claim we will make is that no matter what your dog’s problem, you get a lifetime free telephone and email support – and we will always return your calls and messages.
We have lost count of the number of times we have been asked to conduct training classes, but decline to do so as we prefer the much more effective method of one to one training of dog and handler, whether with adult dogs or puppies. We feel that classes in village halls and the like, are of limited value and the actual individual attention given to each dog and owner, is so diluted as to be almost pointless.
Often, the ratio of dogs:instructors is inappropriate and have lost count of the number of clients we have seen who strongly believe that their dog’s or puppy’s behavioural problems had its origins at a training class, where it was bullied or picked on by one or more dogs. The same can also be said for doggy day care centres.
So whilst we are sure that there are good training classes and dog day care, we are of the opinion that they are few and far between and if you can afford one to one instruction you should go for it. If you can’t, then we strongly recommend that you go along and observe a class before you even think about enrolling your precious dog or puppy on it. However, no training class can effectively deal with problem behaviour as this is the remit of a qualified behaviourist.
Owning a problem dog can be a demoralising and socially embarrassing existence. It can also get you in trouble with the law. If, having looked at the vast experience on offer here at Ashclyst, you are now thinking of booking an appointment, then you can contact us on one of the contact numbers at the foot of this page for a free, no-obligation chat about your dog’s problems.
However, if you haven’t already done so, please do take the time to look at some of the Client Reviews where you can not only read the stories of some of our cases, but also see comments and photographs of the dogs and their happy owners. We like to put faces to our reviews so that you can trust they are genuine.
If you are experiencing problems with your adult dog, have a puppy who is developing behavioural issues, or simply want to give it the best start in life you can do no better than contacting Peter and Jayne Mounsey at Ashclyst.