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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 some particular 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
  • gowling and/or biting
  • guaring food, toys, people
  • house training
  • uming up on people
  • play biting
  • pulling on leash
  • running away
  • separation anxiety
  • shrining away from pettin 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 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. There are currently only three of these on Vancouver Island, Lisbeth Plant in Cowichan, Karin Howland in Parksville and Allison Schaefer in Sooke.

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 of these 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 2 1/2 hrs consultation, we go through the questionnaire that you have completed in advance, and discuss your dog's history, lifestyle and behaviour characteristics. We go through a series of educational materials appropriate to your pet’s specific issues, so that you can gain an understanding of what is going on, what we would do about it, and how it would work. We discuss and set up management solutions and go through a number of exercises. This constitutes your dog's initial behaviour modification protocol.

After lesson, you will receive written instructions and educational materials. At the conclusion and if appropraite, your veterinarian will 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 10-14 days' 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 training and 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.



What's New?
What Clients Are Saying:

Chewie and I just finished the Foundation Programme, with distinction, in 7 weeks. We would not have been able to accomplish this if it wasn't for the team of ladies at Cowichan Canine. Chewie is James and my first puppy, and we were pretty clueless. Thanks to the guidance of Bev, Karen and Lisbeth we are proud of our dog, but also of the "puppy parents" we have become. We hope to continue our education at Cowichan Canine, and we recommend the training facility to anyone who owns a dog. And it all started with the Puppy Socialization class! Thank you so much!

Kim Phillips & James Funfer
Mill Bay, BC

Today I was paid the ultimate compliment by Lisbeth Plant, owner of Cowichan Canine. She said I had helped my puppy Daphne (now 6 months old) develop into a really nice young dog. I agree! But of course I could not have done it without the wonderful folks at Cowichan Canine: professional, caring, knowledgeable and a bonus - all with a great sense of humour! Lisbeth, Stephanie, Andrea, Glenda and Steph all continue to help me guide Daphne and I am so grateful for their help, knowledge and kindness and for occasionally talking me down from a proverbial cliff! How lucky we are here in the Cowichan valley to have access to a full spectrum of resources to help guide and develop our dogs into the best they can be! Let the learning (and fun) continue!

Theresa Coles

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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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