I have recently received some questions about private, one on one Dog Training / Behaviour consultations. The enquiry was what do I actually do in a Private Consultation and do I train the dog for the whole time.
They are excellent questions because it gives me an opportunity to clarify exactly what Private, One-on-One, Consultations are for and what I actually do in these consultations. So firstly, let’s talk about why you would need a private, one-on-one dog training / behaviour consultation and for what reasons. Then we will discuss what I actually do in these private consultations. When would you need a Private Dog Training / Behaviour consultation? You would need a private consultation if your dog has problem behaviours or behaviour problems (they are two different things) of which requires the individual one-on-one attention, knowledge and experience of the Dog Trainer / Behaviour Consultant. Usually these issues are not addressed in a class environment and/or you have been to class and you need more individual help. Classes are fantastic and I do encourage people to attend them but you cannot really get individual help from the instructor/trainer because there are others in class. Classes also follow a format so whilst you may have a problem with your dog pulling on lead, the instructor cannot dedicate a full hour of the class to work with just you and your dog. The topic of loose lead walking may be covered in one of the classes but it is usually prescriptive and gives standard instructions. If you and your dog follow these instructions and your dog is still pulling, this is where a private, one-on-one consultation would be beneficial for you and your dog. In a private consultation, you are requiring the Consultant / Trainer to give you their undivided time, attention and expertise to you and your dog only, to be able to address the problem/s you are having. What issues would you need a Private Dog Training / Behaviour consultation for? The list is endless really, but it can be anything from teaching your dog the basics such as sit, down, stay, stand etc. It can be that your dog is lunging and barking at other dogs, your dog is scared of certain things and/or people, your dog is having problems being left alone at home, your dog is pulling on lead, jumping up on people and/or not coming when called. It can be anything you need help with. As Susan Friedman, a Psychology Professor at Utah State University always says: “Behaviour is the study of one”. What does this mean? It means that your dog is an individual and your dogs behaviour is individual. To address an issue your dog is having, you need to look at the individual dog. What do I actually do in these private consultations? Most people think that I train your dog. This is not the case. I do not train your dog. I train you to train your dog. In most cases, I will start by ask lots of questions and take a history of your dog. WHY would I do that? So I can obtain information that will help me to determine the cause of the behaviour and how to then help your dog. I will also educate the owner about the issues their dog is having. We may talk about the behaviour their dog is displaying, why this is happening and what is the dog getting out of it? In almost all cases, the owner will have been misinformed, either through their own research on Google or family and friends who have given them advice which has been incorrect. In the consultations, we help owners to get the right information to be able to move forward and help their dog. Lastly and most importantly, the private consultation is about me gaining an understanding of owner’s expectations of their dog and their behaviour. In a majority of cases, the expectations that owners have of their dogs are unrealistic. They want their dog to not display normal dog behaviour such as barking, digging, not pulling on lead, not be energetic. These are all natural and normal behaviours for dogs. Some people want their dog to be ok with being left in the backyard for 8 hours, 10 hours and in some cases 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We talk about what dogs need, that in the wild, they would have been living with their family and never separated for long. They are social creatures, they don’t cope with isolation and being left alone for long periods of time. Why does Dog Training / Behaviour Modification fail? The biggest reason why dog training and behaviour modification fails is not the dog. It is that the owner cannot or will not put in the time and effort to train the dog. It may also be the owner lacks the skill to effectively train the dog. People expect that I will have a magic wand and fix their dog when they come to see me. I do wish I had that magic wand. But the reality is, that owners have to put the work in. Owners need to train their dog regularly to obtain a behaviour or change a behaviour. Some owners don’t want to walk their dog, play with their dog, train their dog, give their dog mental activity, let their dog inside the house and make their dog part of their family. They want their dog to stop pulling but they don’t have the time or want to put the effort in to teach the dog to walk on lead. In our consultations, I have conversations with the owners about readjusting expectations and realistically, what is required for the owner to change their behaviour in order to change their dog’s behaviour. Because this is the key. Can the owner change their expectations and behaviour (meaning can they realign their expectations as well as put in the time and effort to train their dog over a period of time) in order to change their dog’s behaviour? Which is of course, is why they came to see me in the first place. And yes, we do some hands-on training / behaviour modification with the dog so you can implement this training when you get back home. Is one consultation all I need to fix my dog? Sometimes, one consultation is all you might need. Realistically, if you are serious about helping your dog you will probably need a number of consultations. This is because changing your behaviour takes time, you have to form new habits and it has been said on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — that is approximately 66 days. Once you have made that new behaviour a habit, it then takes time to develop that and get progress.
You will be most effective in helping your dog if you have several sessions. (Just like you do when you see a psychologist for human behaviour issues. The psychologist doesn't just book you in for one session and magically fix you! Human beings will sometimes see psychologists for many years.) Some people will come for 3 sessions, others will have 5 sessions and others will see me for many sessions. Having several sessions is useful because you will be more motivated to do the work in between the consultations if you have to come back to see me and let me know how you went. Of course, you are responsible for your own behaviour, I cannot do the work for you but when you come back to see me, it makes you accountable. I am also there as your coach, teacher and mentor in changing your behaviour to change your dog’s behaviour. This is the most successful way to help your dog. Of course, there may be situations where only just one consultation is all you need, but that is usually the exception. Cost of a private consultation Of course, everyone wants to know the cost of a private consultation. The cost for a private consultation is naturally higher than attending a class. But if you invest in educating yourself now about dog and dog behaviour, it will save you a lot of money down the track. For serious issues, it may also potentially save you the heartache of having to re-home or potentially euthanize your dog because you got the help early. Why do I do it? I am here because I care about you and your dog. This is why I do this work. This is why I chose to do this work. I want you to have a wonderful, respectful, fun, loving and caring relationship with your dog. I want your dog to have a high quality of life, have his/her needs met and be a happy dog. If I can help you achieve that with you and your dog, it would be an honour! Please, if you are experiencing issues with your dog, feel free to book a Behaviour consultation with us! We would be honoured to help you and your dog! Dogaholics Dog Training and Behaviour Services