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A Midas touch for badly behaved dogs: Canine behaviour Counseling

01 Apr 2011 | by Vithika Tewari | Posted in: Training

Often the terms Dog training and canine behavior counseling are confused. There is a fine line of difference between the training and behavior counseling.Dog training is teaching dog to learn various behaviour in response to cetin commands. Most common behaviours are “sit”, “lay down”, “teach dog to relieve himself outside”, “stay”, “Recall (“come"), etc.
Whereas, Canine behaviour counseling is more about analysis and solving problems caused by unwanted behaviour of dogs. A canine behaviour counsellor must be aware of canine psychology. Love for dogs, understanding of the species and ample patience are key ingredients of the profession.

If your dog is behaving erratic and is carrying out undesired behaviour then it’s time to take it to a Canine Behaviour consultant for counseling.

Natasha Chandy is one such budding Canine behaviour counselor from Bangalore. Natasha who has always been passionate about dogs, knews that eventually she is going to take it up as a professional career. She pursued a course from Mumbai on Canine Behaviour. ‘’I trained under canine counsellor Shirin Merchant in Mumbai. Subsequently moved to Bangalore for independent working and has been imparting counseling for approximately a year now. "It’s an exhilarating experience to see the lives of the dogs and their owners improve. Even small improvements take a lot of time and energy from the owners and when done, they realize the positive change is worth all the work. Its very satisfying.” she says.
Dogs can feel fear; have severe phobias, separation anxiety, food-related problems, and more. "My role as a canine behaviour counselor is to explain the dog’s point of view to the owner and bridge the communication gap,” she quips.

She says owners and the family circle where the pet is going to live with have a great impact on the dog’s behaviour. Most owners face behaviour problems in their pets simply because they don’t understand their natural behaviour.

For example a single professional owing a dog may not be able to give sufficient time to the dog and hence in all the alone time that the dog has to spend by himself he may pick up destructive behaviour like digging, barking constantly, chewing up things, etc. Mostly, it’s the lack of routine, constructive activities that the dog can learn and spend time doing, lack of socialization with other people and canines that drives them to develop behaviour problems.  On the other hand if  the dog is in a family it could be "pampered" into becoming over possessive towards the owner or can develop insecurities and not be a happy independent dog.

Pet prescriptions range from obedience training to improving routine to restructuring hierarchy in the family and the dog to some very specific programs which can range in time duration from 48 hours to well above 6 months," explains Natasha Chandy.

Talking about the counseling session Natasha says, “I usually meet pet owners at a neutral space. Owners are completely involved in the entire program from start to finish". She draws detailed information on the history of problem and then providing the solution by getting owners to agree upon it. "After first 1-2 counseling sessions, I remains more likely to be in touch with the clients on phone for updates, progress reports and further advice to modify the program advised in wake of dog’s response to the ongoing behaviour modification therapy”.

Behavioral modification training offered by Natasha varies from case –to –case and is specific to the problems encountered by dogs. Some of them are as follows:

 •  Appetite related problems - These range from dogs being fussy eaters, eating all sorts of stuff like garbage, metal things and plastics. The specific problem is analyzed and a solution is given; a schedule is planned for the owners to follow through on. Owner is asked to make follow up calls after the first meetings.
 •  Fear and phobias - Fear of loud sounds,strangers,walking up or down the stairs, cars and traffic, etc. Again separate behaviour modification schedule is planned to overcome such fear and phobias.
 •  Separation anxiety and Insecurities– Over attached owners often result in dogs not being able to handle being or left alone. if left alone they often show  behaviours like urinating at key spaces in the house, chewing up things to relieve themselves of the stress, etc. These problems are common but each case is different from the other and hence each program is designed extremely carefully.
 •   Aggression – A barrage of aggression related problems are exhibited by dogs such as biting other dogs or strangers or even their own family members, being extremely agitated and taking to aggressive responses to stimuli like strangers, vehicles, sounds, etc. Natasha says “To be honest, I am still training to handle aggression issues. Though there have been urgent cases that I have taken up and thankfully we have had relative success.

 Natasha strongly feels success of any behaviour modification programme depends entirely on the owner’s participation and ability to carry out the modification programme and constantly supporting to show the desired progress.”Unfortunately some people want to see the results in a jiffy, this is almost never possible. Patience is key to success in all cases. Although in some instances there is rapid progression, more often a thorough and systematic approach has to be taken which can be time consuming and involves all members of the family. It is extremely satisfying to see a renewed healthier relationship built between owners and their dogs” she adds.

Apart from behaviour counseling, Natasha also conducts dog training sessions, it’s important to start training a dog as early as possible. ‘‘Usually people start training their dog when they are about 6 -7 months old, but the earlier they start the better it is. People can start training their dogs when they are about one to two months old, that’s when it’s best to try moulding their habits and honing their skills as it’s an impressionable age. Its far more difficult, but not impossible, to change an adult dog’s behaviour - it takes more time and could be less pleasing to the dog and the owner,” suggests Natasha.

Natasha adds all my training programmes are designed in a reward based fun way so that there is not much pressure on the dogs and owners enjoy working towards making early progress. As a behaviour counselor we have to keep in mind the pet owners views on the way they want to interact with their dog and we train them accordingly. most owners are quite sensitive about how outsiders perceive their relationship with their pet."

For a session of Dog counseling contact Natasha Chandy on 9632221061, she can also be followed on Face book. She charges about Rs. 800/hr for a session of dog counseling and Rs. 650/hr hour of dog training session.

43/18, 1st floor
2nd Cross, Promenade Road, Frazer Town
Ulsoor, Bangalore.

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