I am a qualified dog behaviourist with 25 years’ experience of working with dogs. My aim, in a very small way, is to reduce the number of dogs who find themselves abandoned or put to sleep unnecessarily, due to behavioural problems. I work with dogs and their owners to improve mutual understanding and communication, and to bring balance and harmony to the lives of both.
What I do
I am a dog behaviourist rather than a trainer. Whilst trainers generally work with a blank canvas to teach new behaviours, as a behaviourist I specialise in:
- Analysing the underlying causes of existing, unwanted behaviours;
- Dismantling these behaviours through a systematic behaviour modification programme;
- Replacing them with more appropriate behaviour.
I do not use any aversive methods: dogs learn best if they are comfortable and having fun. If your dog is going to change its behaviour, we're going to have to make this an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog.
If you don't know where to turn right now, I understand where you are - I've been there, and this is my story.
I had trained and worked my own dogs for many years, and was a registered breeder of Labrador Retrievers so I thought I knew a bit about dogs. However, in 2005, Scout 'stormed' into my life. She was unpredictable, hyperactive, over-enthusiastic, highly intelligent, reactive, destructive, affectionate, aggressive, an escape-artist, and a complete nightmare to own. Obedience and agility classes were a disaster. Life at home with her was stressful - taking her out was stressful. I couldn't bear to give her up but equally I didn't know how I could carry on with her.
In desperation, I sought advice from a behaviourist. He helped me understand what was going wrong and how my own behaviour was impacting on this particular dog. I realised I didn't understand her at all. Changing my relationship with Scout brought some small improvements in her behaviour immediately. Suddenly there was some hope - for Scout and for me! Over the months we worked hard to channel her high energy into hunting and retrieving and she gradually turned into a brilliant working Labrador and - more importantly - both our lives were transformed.
The journey Scout and I took was an emotional one and led me think how much I would love to have the knowledge and skills to help others in similar situations. I read everything I could about dog behaviour and then embarked on two and a half years of study with the British College of Canine Studies, qualifying with Distinction as a Dog Behaviour Practitioner.
I subsequently gave up my job in higher education and now work full time as a dog behaviour consultant, combining my love of working with dogs and with people.
My Promise to You
- I will use only kind and positive methods to modify your dog's behaviour.
- I will not judge you - I know what it is to have tried your best and failed.
- I won't abandon you after your consultation! On-going support is part of my service.
- I will consider the health and safety of you, your dog(s), myself, and others when working with you.
- I will be open and honest with you and do my very best to help you and your dog. If I feel at any point that I am unable to help you, I shall refer you to a professional who can.
- I will undertake continual professional development to ensure my knowledge and skills remain current.