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Old 12-05-2012, 10:03 AM
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Default Behaviorist Q's

On Saturday, a veterinary behaviorist is coming to evaluate Milo, help with a behavior modification plan, and possibly prescribe medication.

The original evaluation is from 1-4 hours, and then for six months we get weekly (or more often if we need), follow-ups on the phone. The behaviorist came pretty highly recommended, but...I don't know.

What if I don't agree with his methods, or...I don't know. I'm SO nervous, I don't know why. What do you all look for in a behaviorist? Have you used a behaviorist, and was the experience a good or bad one?
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:18 AM
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Well I'm pretty sure that you already know that my experience with my behaviorist was...well, amazing.

Is this person a certified vet behaviorist through the ACVB?
I honestly guess I never thought of someone going through that much schooling as not being...I don't know...good?
I ended up with the person I did because she came with the best recommendations ever, I have yet to hear of a person who went there and didn't think she was amazing.

Maybe he has reviews or something on like...yelp? I have no clue if this type of thing would come up on that site, or a similar site.
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:46 AM
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Ask them what their methods are, I do know of one that does use a lot of corrections. Very outdated methods and is highly recommended. My first question is who is doing the recommendations and how educated are they?
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:58 AM
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I've worked with a behaviorist for the girls. She is CPDT-KA certified and has worked with dogs for many many years. I have not worked with (nor do I know of one in this area) a vet behaviorist. I found my behaviorist because she runs the rescue/training facility I train my dogs at. I originally found the facility by searching on apdt's website for certified trainers.

If you're worried about the methods call/email/text and ask what they are. I did that with the rescue beforehand and they were very upfront. If the behaviorist won't tell you or dances around the question then it'd be a huge red flag for me.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:01 AM
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I worked extensively with a behaviorist for my aggressive Dutch Shepherd and often brought my other dogs along for fun. I do not know how I would've lates 2 years with Madix without her - she is AMAZING! One of the most positive training experiences I have had...she is fairly well known, Brenda Aloff. If you find one that is good and meshes with you, they can do a lot of good.
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Old 12-05-2012, 02:59 PM
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I'm interested in this thread as well. That is one of my worries when looking into a vet behaviorist. They are few and far between, so it's not like you have tons of training methods to choose from if you are planning on getting your dog seen by one. The one I'm looking at, which seems to be the only choice for me right now (the other isn't taking any more clients right now), has a case study on his page (well it's on the page of the vet school he works at, so it's hard to be sure it actually HIS words, it sounds more like a collaboration) in which the diagnosis for the dog was dominance aggression. The behavior the dog had was growling when the owners tried to remove him from the couch and growling if the owner tried to pet/handle him when he didn't want to be handled. He also guarded high value food and became aggressive when the owners physically punished him.

So I am off put by the diagnosis being "dominance". BUT all of the methods they describe for solving the problem I was fine with. Avoid confrontation, take away couch privileges, no physical punishment, teach obedience commands that they can use instead (and use a leash and head collar if there is trouble getting him to comply-I assume this is in reference to getting off the couch), increase exercise, no more high value treats, NILIF especially for attention giving.

So I don't really know what to think. I don't agree with the diagnosis but have no issues with the treatment. But at the same time the treatment isn't anything I couldn't have come up with myself and a lot of it is just avoidance (avoid giving high value treats, no more couch, don't do anything that might cause an issue). But maybe that has something to do with how much work the owners were willing to put in (I suppose most average owners are not willing to do long counter conditioning or desensitization programs).
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:44 PM
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To be honest Maxy, the case study you mention on the webpage of the behaviorist you are looking at would right away make me say, "Thanks, but no thanks!"

Yes these issues can be complex and yes some dogs can just be jerks, but that kind of jargon raises big red flags for me that the behaviorist in question is not up to date on the debunking of dominance theory.
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:12 PM
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IME "dominance aggression" is a term that is still floating around in the vet behavior realm because it was an official diagnosis for so long. The vet behaviorist here juust changed his handouts to "owner directed aggression" from the old phrasing, but you can bet he doesn't use any positive punishment on those dogs and never has. It would not be a red flag to me, especially given that the treatment outlined in the case study sounds modern.
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:36 PM
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I looked at his blog and this is what he has to say about dominance (you can look a the comments and his responses as well). The post is from 2009 though.

http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/dominance-dilemma

Other things I've noticed that I don't like is he seems to tell people to feed low protein food to help with aggression and one of his blog posts is that he doesn't know how to deal with dogs who are very leash reactive (excited, not aggressive). On the one hand I like that he is putting that out there and is willing to learn from others, on the other hand I feel like he should know about thresholds and counter conditioning.

This is also a very well known vet behaviorist (not in the dog world so much, but the "average pet people" world), i'm not sure if I like that or not.

I feel like I'd really just rather a behaviorist for training and a vet for meds. For training I want someone who is really a behavioral expert (or as much of one as you can be).
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxy24 View Post
I feel like I'd really just rather a behaviorist for training and a vet for meds. For training I want someone who is really a behavioral expert (or as much of one as you can be).
To be a true board certified behaviorist, vets have to do a 3 year internship with another behaviorist. It is the only formally regulated behaviorist program out there. Anyone can call themselves a "behaviorist" without formal training. I wouldn't trust 90% of them out there unless they were a board certified DVM behaviorist.
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