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What is a Behaviour Consultation

What is a Behaviour Consultation?

A behaviour consultation is when you consult a behaviour specialist about one or several problem behaviour(s) that your dog is displaying.

Any problem behaviours that involve fear, aggression or reactivity are obvious candidates for behaviour consultations. 

Other issues that we often deal with are:

  • barking
  • chewing things
  • come when called
  • "dominance"
  • eating inappropriate objects
  • growling and/or biting
  • guarding food, toys, people
  • house training
  • jumping up on people
  • play biting
  • pulling on leash
  • running away
  • separation anxiety
  • shrinking away from petting or handling
  • ... and many, other issues...

It is important that your veterinarian is involved in this process, because it is not uncommon that there is a medical issue underlying or contributing to the behaviour issue. At the very least, we should keep your veterinarian informed about the issues we are working on. 

Some dogs may also greatly benefit from temporary or longer term anti-anxiety medication to support the behaviour modification programme to alleviate the problem and improve the dog's quality of life at least temporarily.

What is a Behavior Consultant?

There are four different kinds of specialists:

A Certified Behaviour Consultant is a trainer that specializes in behaviour modification and has been certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

The Behaviour Consultant is the one that works directly with the client, and may do so under the supervision of, or in cooperation with, a more highly qualified professional:

A Board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist has been certified through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. We do not have any of these currently practicing in BC at this time, but Dr Claudia Richter is currently interning with the ACVB and travels from Vancouver to Vancouver Island on a regular basis. She can be contacted via her website:

A Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist has a doctoral degree from an accredited college or university in a biological or behavior science and has been certified through the Animal Behavior Society. We do not have any CAAB in BC at this time.

There are veterinarians with a special interest in behaviour. You can ask your regular veterinarian, or your trainer, for referrals. There are a few of these on southern Vancouver Island.

What happens at a Behaviour Consultation?

During the initial consultation, we go through the questionnaire ("Behaviour Information Form") that you have completed in advance, and discuss your dog's history, lifestyle and behaviour characteristics. From that, we discuss and agree your dog's behaviour modificiaton priorities. We then take you through a series of educational materials appropriate for your dog’s specific issues, so that you can gain an understanding of what is going on, what we do about it, and why we do what we do about it, i.e. how behaviour modification works. We then set up one or several management protocols and one or several training exercises. This constitutes your dog's initial behaviour modification protocol.

After the first lesson, you will receive the lesson notes, which include your instructions and educational materials. If you so desire, your veterinarian can also receive a copy. As we continue to work together, updated lesson notes will continue to be supplied as appropriate.

Additional support in between consultations via telephone or email are available at no extra cost. However, if the problem is complex or time consuming you will be advised that either a charged call or an extra consultation lesson may be necessary.

At the subsequent consultations, usually with 1-2 weeks' intervals, we follow up on yours and your dog’s progress, answer any questions you may have, and then progress with the next steps of your dog's customized behaviour modification programme.

All advice we provide is based on the most recent scientific (evidence-based) behaviour modification protocols, which emphasize force-free and reward-based methods.

How long will it take?

This is the million dollar question! It is impossible to predict how long a behaviour modification programme will take, or even if a "cure" is even possible, as it depends on so many factors, including:

  1. How much time, effort and consistency the owner/handler and family members are able to invest into the behaviour modification programme.
  2. The individual dog's genetic predisposition for the behaviour.
  3. The individual dog's learning history, including early puppyhood socialization.
  4. Why the dog is acting out; fear-based problems usually take longer to resolve than regular "misbehaviour" issue.
  5. How long the dog has been practising the behaviour: the longer it's been going on, the longer it will take to resolve.
  6. What factors and stimuli are involved that drive the behaviour, such as other stressors in the dog's life, other pets or people contributing to the issues, past or present use of corrections, etc.
  7. The owner's willingness to use anti-anxiety medication, if applicable.


Please do not hesitate to call our behaviour consultant, Lisbeth Plant, on her cell 250-732-5415.

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What Clients Are Saying:

I just wanted to touch base with you and give a big THANK YOU for your help with Kaiya. Kaiya is such a great dog. My mom and Step-dad came to visit last week, and they got on with Kaiya like gang-busters! She gave a few little grumbles to my step-dad the first evening when he was in the house, and then nothing. One walk and she fell in love with a few more family members. We still plan to continue Kaiya's training as discussed. Matt has worked with her so well that he takes her out into the big fields here and plays fetch with her off leash! I was very impressed.

Karin, Matt, and Kaiya
Mill Bay, BC

I had the good fortune and pleasure to take the Foundation Program at Cowichan K9 this winter with my lab cross puppy Cody. Cody just turned 8 months when we graduated with distinction from this awesome training experience. Bev, Karen, and Glenda were terrific and facilitated our learning with clear instruction, helpful tips, and much kindness and caring. I've worked with dogs all my life and was amazed at how much I learned participating in this program and now Cody and I get to benefit daily from our indelible experience with you. Training with such positive reinforcement, small class size, and expert facilitation enhanced our relationship beyond measure and will continue to do so now that we have the tools and understanding. Cody travels on rounds with me and is continually being complimented on his fine manners and keen willingness to please. I am so proud of him! Attending our classes at Cowichan Canine was the highlight of each week and will continue to be as we begin agility classes and scent games. I can't thank you enough for how your program has enriched our relationship and daily life together. I recommend all my clients take their dogs to Cowichan Canine. Every one can benefit! p.s. Your Christmas party was the highlight of the season, hands down! Class act: so many happy, well behaved dogs and their people, games and prizes, Santa and presents, incredibly delicious appies and meatballs galore for all. That was the best Christmas function I've ever attended! Thank you again -

Dr Brenda Bernhardt
Cowichan Veterinary HouseCall Services

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Behaviour Consultations in the Cowichan Valley area, on southern Vancouver Island, servicing Chemainus, Cobble Hill, Cowichan, Cowichan Bay, Crofton, Duncan, Glenora, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Malahat, Maple Bay, Mill Bay, Saltair, Saltspring Island, Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island and Youbou.
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