Behaviorist Q's

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by milos_mommy, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    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?
     
  2. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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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.
     
  3. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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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 Very outdated methods and is highly recommended.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?
     
  4. Taqroy

    Taqroy Active Member

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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.
     
  5. FG167

    FG167 New Member

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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.
     
  6. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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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).
     
  7. monkeys23

    monkeys23 New Member

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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.
     
  8. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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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.
     
  9. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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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).
     
  10. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    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.
     
  11. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    You're safe with Dodman - he's a published author on behavior and I've read his books. You won't be able to find many people better qualified imo.
     
  12. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Maxy, I'd question what this guys credentials are.

    As far as I'm concerned, the term "behaviorist" is NOT something anyone is able to or suppose to use, it's reserved for people with a master's degree in ethology. Hence the issues people have with Cesar Milan calling himself a behaviorist with no degree in Animal Behavior. Just because someone's a behaviorist, however, doesn't make them a veterinary behaviorist or a doctor.

    The guy we're seeing is well accredited and I value the recommendations I got. I'm still nervous, though.
     
  13. JustaLilBitaLuck

    JustaLilBitaLuck New Member

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    This.

    To me, the biggest difference between a behaviorist (a board-certified DVM) and a trainer is that a behaviorist is going to have the medical background. Sure, many trainers may be CVTs or have veterinary experience, but not nearly as much as a behaviorist. For many dogs, severe behavior issues (ones that aren't getting better) may indicate a medical component which may require medication. And for that, a veterinary behaviorist is your best bet, especially if you want to try the medication route.
     
  14. monkeys23

    monkeys23 New Member

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    He is a well known behaviorist and published author. I found his books really interesting (especially his theory on very low grade epileptic issues causing aggression... that seem to be tied to genetics, he was looking at bull terriers and spaniels specifically there... really interesting stuff), but again a lot of outdated ideas/concepts really jumped out at me in his books such as the dominance theory stuff (which may have changed since the books of his I read were published... reading the dog start daily post on his views right after this) and frankly I could go either way on the low protien diet theory. I do know going high protien, grain free and getting on thyroid meds completely solved my friend's dog's unpredictable agression... when his tummy is upset from grain inclusive foods he gets cranky. And after reading Jean Dodd's thyroid book... very interesting I'll just say.

    Its your call as to what you are comfortable with Maxy. He does have a good reputation and has all required education/certifications. :)
     
  15. monkeys23

    monkeys23 New Member

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    Lol, I had read that before! Eh, that read to me as a garbled mix of valid information, him still clinging to the dominance crap, and picking on only the "things done out of fear" theory by other behaviorists being wrong.... eh, comes off kinda snarky to me. But thats JMO. I feel he's got some very valid, intelligent ideas but they do not come through the snarky gobbeldy gook well at all. Again JMO as someone whose read his books. I am sooo not a professional. But on the other hand, just because someone is certified and copiously published doesn't necesarily mean they are the bees knees either. I would hazard every single well published and well certified behaviorist out there has their own different strengths and weaknesses within their profession.

    If you are comfortable with him than I wish you best of luck and truly hope you can get some good solutions for your little dude. :)
     
  16. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    From what I've read I am not uncomfortable in the sense that his methods would harm Tucker in any way, he seems positive, non-confrontational, and all around positive. Plus Tucker's aggression is not owner directed so his whole dominance thing isn't important for us. I would like to find some of what he's written on stranger aggression though, to get an idea of the sorts of behavior modification he suggests. The only "uncomfortable" feeling I have is the food issue. I'd want to know WHY it works before implementing it...does it simply sap your dog's energy so he can't muster up the energy to react anymore? That seems very wrong to me. if there is some underlying science I don't know about then that's different. but then is it worth the possible physical effects of lower quality food? (it might be, I really don't know, I guess it depends how low protein we are talking here...I consider Fromm to be low protein. and it would depend on how drastic of a difference we would see). I also don't like loosing competency in the eyes of my parents (I'm the one who pushed for high quality food, they'd have fed Pedigree). But that's just me being self centered.


    My main concern is that he's not going to tell us anything terribly helpful, that a regular behaviorist of some sort (not veterinary) would be able to help more in that regard. The only reason I'm going vet behaviorist is for meds, and I don't know if spending $300-$400 for someone to just prescribe meds (and will give me behavior info I already know) is worth it when a vet could prescribe them for less and I could take the saved money and spend it on a behaviorist who I feel will be more helpful. Again, I'm the one pushing my parents to get him help, to use positive methods, etc. if I tell them they HAVE to spend this money if they want Tucker to improve, and then he doesn't improve, I'm going to have very angry, resentful parents who continue to believe that if I'd just let them hit him he'd behave. That's why i always sound so wishy washy on everything. Money is very tight for my parents (and I have none) and so I don't want to push for them to spend huge amounts for nothing when they don't have faith in it themselves.
     
  17. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    So much this!!

    I would be VERY hesitant to see anyone who calls themselves a "behaviorist" because IMO if you aren't board certified, then you are pretty much a trainer.

    My trainer in PA was the equivalent of a board certified behaviorist in Germany. When she moved to the states it didn't transfer, even she calls herself a trainer here in the states, not a behaviorist.

    ETA: I don't want this to sound like being a trainer is somehow less awesome than being a behaviorist, but there are things like prescribing meds that trainers can't do, and they just don't have that same background in medications and such that a vet behaviorist is going to have.
     

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