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Animal behaviourist Karen Wild from Baston explains the benefits of getting the right expert for your dog

You've got a four-legged bundle of joy at home, but what if their antics are creating embarrassment, and in some cases, risk? asks animal behaviourist Karen Wild.

Your dog might be barking, frightened, acting aggressively, even biting. It’s probably been building for a while, so one day you decide that enough is enough. No need to feel ashamed, but it’s important to act before it’s too late.

Enter the quest for a dog behaviour guru – a saviour who'll sprinkle magic dust and, voilà, your furry friend is the epitome of canine perfection! I wish it was this simple. Understanding what's realistically achievable is as crucial as finding the right professional.

Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild
Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild

Let’s face it; we're all after that quick fix. The hope that a dog trainer or behaviourist can perform miracles in a single session is common. It must be cheap too! And oh, the dream of a straightforward solution – a magic command or technique that sorts out all those quirks. Deep down, we know this isn’t realistic, but that doesn’t stop us hoping for the best and quickest result. Suddenly, everyone will be happy.

How about the other daydream? The belief that once a behaviour is tackled, it's locked away in the vault of good doggy behaviour forever. Ah, if only our pups came with guarantees, and if only behaviourists could provide guarantees, just like double glazing.

Cost is inevitable, and you need to be ready to employ a qualified, registered professional from the start. If you pay cheap, you will pay again and again until you finally reach someone who would have helped you properly in the first place. Never, ever employ someone who is not ABTC registered, or a CCAB. Whilst it’s not the law (yet), these registered people are the ones who have been properly assessed and can prove it. Hobbyists are really not the right folk for your beloved pet, and vets do not recommend this either. We are all tired of picking up the pieces from non-qualified ‘behaviourists’ where the situation has been made far worse. Say no to prong collars, yanking on lead, or any ‘dominance’ nonsense. Nobody should do that to any animal.

Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild
Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild

Also, your pet insurance is likely to cover the fees if your behaviourist is a Clinical Animal Behaviourist so check the person you are using - it may make all the difference to affordability too.

Positive changes are possible of course - I see these every day in my work. With the right guidance, and good old consistency, our dogs can indeed learn new tricks. However, your dog needs to be assessed first, and we have to be very clear that there’s a lot of work, rest, and less time for human ‘play’, when it comes to changing problem behaviours in our dogs. Nobody can guarantee results because a lot is down to you, their family.

More about this next week!

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