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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 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 it 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 written instructions and educational materials. At the conclusion and if appropraite, your veterinarian may receive a letter of information, outlining what we have been working on. As we continue to work together, written material 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, as it depends on 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:

Karen is an awesome teacher. She is caring, gentle and patient. She gave me a little extra time tohelp me because I am hard of hearing and have great difficulty hearing in class. Because of her, Monkey flourished under her care. Thank you, Karen, for all your help!

Cindy & Monkey
Mill Bay, BC

Dear Lisbeth, With lots of practice through your guidence and instructions, I am beyond excited and pleased to inform you that Tina has conquered her fear of brooms and mops! It took about a month, slow consistent practicing and desensitizing, and I am now at a stage where Tina literally follows me around, tail wagging and smiles, while I clean the floors! Another fear checked off the list! Thank you so very much for your continued support throughout our journey. With the private training we took with you, then Confidence Class, and now Agility with amazing Glenda- Tina has turned into this confident, joyful, and content little dog that just loves life. School is Tina's absolute favorite thing and I am so glad to have found Cowichan Canine. Thank you for everything, to both you and Glenda for all fun we get to learn and experience. Tina's quality of life she so very much deserves just keeps getting better and better!

Hanna Quinn and Tina the Toy Poodle
Crofton, BC

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