There are some great people around with fabulous knowledge that they share on websites, social media, radio and even TV (although see my previous blog on being careful who you learn from). This can be very informative and useful and can help you to start to piece together the jigsaw of what is going on with your dog and might even give you that vital clue that helps you to help them.
A book can cover more and, although not tailored to your specific dog, might help you to consider the bigger picture.
HOWEVER, a jigsaw is exactly what it is and sometimes you need help to identify all the pieces and solve the puzzle.
The value of a full behavioural consultation
Every case is different and a good behaviourist will try to examine all the pieces that make up the picture before providing tailored advice for you, your dog and your family. Considering all the pieces may also help you to see things from a whole different perspective that you would not have thought about previously.
They will be looking at everything that could impact upon your dog’s behaviour and well-being including such things as their breeding and background (if known), the food they eat, the amount and type of exercise they get, the equipment they wear, in fact anything and everything because it’s ALL important in understanding what’s going on with a dog and helping them. What may seem irrelevant and unimportant to you may actually be a tiny but vital jigsaw piece that helps to complete the picture.
This should include ensuring that your dog has had a vet check to rule out any medical issues that could cause or impact upon their behaviour. For this reason, many behaviourists choose to work on vet referral only.
Before booking a consultation, I ask anyone who contacts me to fill out a pre-assessment form (without charge or obligation). This allows me to gather a lot of the little jigsaw pieces together before we meet. Some of them might have been lost behind the sofa! Not only does this save time, it begins to give me clues about what I need to find out more about when we meet. If there’s something on the form I think you need to see someone else about (perhaps a specialist on a specific issue, or a vet) then I will let you know at this stage and offer to refer you on if appropriate.
Once we go ahead and book a consultation, I will also ask you to send videos (and perhaps photographs) of your dog before we meet. This is especially useful if our consultation will take place via Zoom. It helps me to gather yet more pieces. The aim is that by the time we meet we are finding the final pieces and filling the gaps so that we can begin to look at the emerging picture together and discuss solutions to the puzzle.
Sadly, many people get in touch with me for advice and never return the form. I always worry that this is because they got instant ‘less hassle’ advice elsewhere and might still have lots of lost jigsaw pieces. I hope they actually just chose another puzzle solver.