Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Pet Behaviourist – how to find a dog or cat behaviourist

With so many people offering dog training or cat behaviour services and with seemingly every other pet owner who has an opinion, it can be a really daunting place to be when looking for help with a pet behaviour problem. That’s why Animal Behaviour Specialist Jez Rose has put together this Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Behaviourist:

1: Choose someone you like. Pick up the ‘phone and call them because the person you choose for you and your pet are likely to be spending some time with you, so it’s important that you trust and get on with them. You’re likely to be welcoming them into your home and will need to talk to them and ask questions through the rough and the smooth.
2: Check out their testimonials. Other peoples’ experiences are important so do your research to find out what other people thought. Ring around and get some word of mouth recommendations about them.
3: Professionalism is key. The quality of the information the produce and their website is important because it is likely to reflect the professionalism of the individual overall. First impressions count for a reason and attention to detail is everything.
4: Qualifications aren’t everything. The old addage that “credentials on a wall don’t make you a decent human being” is true in every walk of life, so consider experience, knowledge, mentoring and professionalism, as well as qualifications. I know plenty of great Doctors but I’ve also met a few who I was less than impressed with.
5: Guarantees. Guarantees are everything when embarking on correcting your pet’s problem behaviour. It’s important to ask how long it is likely to take and what guarantees the behaviourist offers. Ask if they will guarantee to keep working with you to ensure improvement in your pet’s problem behaviour. Ask if the plan they offer, their service and improving the problem is guaranteed.
6: Speak to your vet. All good behaviourists will come recommended by veterinary professionals and work closely with them, so if in doubt, ask your vet or someone you know for a word of mouth recommendation.
7: Support and back up. All too often I hear of pet owners paying their money and the never hearing from the behaviourist again, unable to get replies to questions or further support. In many cases problem behaviours don’t correct themselves overnight so it is important that the behaviourist you choose to work with you provides a support service.
8: Insurance. Check that they are insured to work with animals (and children if applicable to you) and have adequate public liability and indemnity cover, just in case. If you do have children, we would suggest that a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) clearance is important, too.
9: You are just as important. Although the behaviourist’s job is to work primarily with your pet, they should also be working closely with you, so consider their customer service and how long it takes to reply to your enquiry, for example. If they aren’t bothered before they’ve been paid, it’s not looking good for after!
10: Don’t get confused by clubs. There are a daunting number of memberships clubs for animal trainers and behaviourists, but membership of them doesn’t guarantee efficacy or success. Look instead for results-led recommendations and choose someone who uses positive behaviour modification techniques, avoiding those that mention or use any of the following:
– Shaking a can/bottle/container of stones
– Spraying water
– Shouting
– Rolling over or pinning
– Check or choke chains
– Physical or verbal punishment

The Behaviour Company offers a range of solutions for pet behaviour problems. For more information and for free resources and tips, visit www.thebehaviourcompany.com

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