Rehabilitation: the missing link to sucessful behaviour modification

aggressive dogToday, the dog owner who experiences problems with their pet is fortunate to be able to consult with specialist behaviour counsellors

Whilst advice can be detailed in the resulting behaviour modification programme, the necessary steps needed to resolve those of an aggressive & predatory manner often needs practical support.

But where does this support come from?

The Vet? ….. The Behaviour counsellor? …. The Dog Trainer?


The Veterinarian

As Behaviour Modification is recognised as a specialised area, Veterinary Surgeons now have the option to refer to a qualified behaviour counsellor. Whilst diagnosis may be made by the veterinarian, generally they do not have the time or the facilities to advise an appropriate behaviour modification programme. Enter the Behaviour counsellor …….


The Behaviour Counsellor

The dog is generally referred to the Behaviour Counsellor by the Veterinarian who has often already diagnosed the problem. The role of the Behaviour Counsellor involves gathering the full history of the dog and etiology of the problem behaviour. This is essential in structuring an appropriate behaviour modification programme. This process in itself can be very time consuming. Some Behaviour Counsellors are able to offer suitable facilities for the complete rehabilitation of the problem. However, many cannot offer the practical support on a regular basis that problems of an anti-social nature demand.


The Dog Trainer

Most dog trainers practise teaching pet dog and/or competition-type obedience training. Dogs that, for various reasons, cannot cope with a group training situation, are often referred to the Veterinarian or the Behaviour Counsellor. The rehabilitation of a dog with an anti-social problem often requires more than pure obedience training in order to resolve the problem.

So where does that leave the owner of a dog with an aggression problem? They have sought advice from their Vet who has referred them to a Behaviour Counsellor who in turn structures a behaviour modification programme. But where and how can this programme be implemented? The dog’s problem is such that the owner[s] are unable to attend the traditional dog training class but their Behaviour Counsellor may well have advised socialising the dog in a controlled environment. These are average pet owners with minimal knowledge on canine communication and many have never even been to a dog training class. Whilst eventually, they may wish to attend such classes, how can they prepare their dog for the ultimate aim? Enter The Rehabilitation Specialist


The Rehabilitation Specialist

With knowledge and experience often found in dog training, the Rehabilitation Specialist concentrates not only in structuring a Rehabilitation Programme but also teaches the owners how to employ it. Regular support is given by the Rehabilitation Specialist, sometimes on daily basis. The Rehabilitation Specialist is experienced in aggression, and may have facilities to address the anti-social problem.

No doubt, such a service may already be offered by individual trainers but the area of rehabilitation should be recognised as a valuable and professional area that is essential in the successful resolution of anti-social behaviour. For the Rehabilitation Specialist offers a complimentary service to the already recognised bodies that form the canine/human support system.

Beginning with a convincing debate on why such a specialist facility is needed, it continues with a discussion on the fundamental qualities of a Rehabilitation Specialist. Advice is then given on the structure of the rehabilitation group, with a two-level model being offered as the most beneficial approach.

Practical ‘hands-on’ workshops designed to meet the needs of the delegates are also available, and details of how to register interest can be found inside‘Running Rehabilitation Groups’. The author has been involved in the world of dogs for over 20 years, specialising in rehabilitation for the last 10. As a member of the APBC, her expertise is drawn from diverse fields, although rehabilitating the aggressive, nervous and traumatised dog has always been a major interest.

As we fast approach the millennium, Rehabilitation will surely be the way forward. ‘Running Rehabilitation Groups’ is an invaluable guide to set you off in the right direction.