Dog Behaviourist & People Trainer
I have been working with dogs with behavioural issues for almost 10 years now. I truly believe there isn't a dog out there that can't be helped and have successfully worked with thousands of problematic dogs. In that time I have developed a unique understanding of the link between common everyday interactions with dogs and resulting problem behaviours. Prior to working professionally with dogs, I attended Universities in QLD and NSW where I studied Criminology, Psychology & Teaching. While studying at University, working with dogs was a great hobby with satisfying results. Once the time to study was completed, I found the time to truly dedicate myself to helping people with problematic dog behaviours. Further study includes a certificate in Companion Animal Services and Animal Science - majoring in Canine behaviours - with a view to completing a doctorate by 2020.
Over a decade ago, while still studying, I began initially training my dogs using methods traditionally found in obedience training. I discovered that although the dogs responded most of the time to my requests, there were still residual behavioural problems in terms of chewing, jumping, anxiety, escaping and aggression. After applying the method of more exercise to tire the dogs out thus preventing destruction, I found the problem became more pronounced despite the 3 hours of exercise per day the dogs were getting.
It wasn't until a return to competitive sport after a 3 year hiatus that the connection between fitness and energy became so obvious. Call it a light bulb moment, when the fitness increased over a period of weeks so to did the level of energy. This meant that all that exercise with the dogs was certainly making them more fit and energetic, however it did nothing to curb the problem behaviours for one very simple reason. It completely ignored the most important factor concerning the outcome of all behaviours, state of mind. That is, whatever we think and feel determines what we do. Essentially the dogs were distracted while exercising , which meant there were no issues at the time, but as soon as they recovered from the morning session their high level of fitness and now stimulated minds resulted in destructive, anxious and dangerous behaviour. After altering the type of exercise used, slow calm walks replaced the running and relaxed affection replaced the highly stimulating tug of war and ball chasing, almost immediately they became more calm and less destructive.
Further success came with understanding just how important our own feelings and attitudes are in affecting those around us. This is particularly important with animals like dogs which are incredibly sensitive to the nuances of what we project with our bodies. Quite simply, if we are relaxed, calm and confident, it is likely our dogs will respond in a way which reflects this. Similarly if we are tense, anxious, angry or frustrated our dogs will be impacted in a way that often results in reactive, erratic behaviour.
The question then became, should we persist with attempting to teach dogs our own convoluted spoken language or focus on the simple, effective and natural approach that belongs to both animals and humans to create understanding; Body language or as Paulo Coelho referred to it the '“universal language”.
In the case of behavioural problems with dogs, the source generally starts with the dogs at home. This is where they spend most of their lives and where the most significant impact on learning can occur. That's not to say problems don't begin or exist elsewhere, however, creating understanding, respect and trust in the home will inevitably improve the results achieved elsewhere. By observing thousands of dogs of all breeds in a wide variety of situations including homes, parks, boarding facilities etc one thing became abundantly clear, dogs are much smarter than most people realise
Nala - Bull Mastiff x Rhodesian Ridgeback
At 11 years of age, Nala is the senior member of our dog crew. Her formerly reactive behaviour towards other dogs is the very reason I was inspired to do something to change her feelings towards them and focus on understanding how and why dogs use aggression. Nala is now our main aggression specialist which means sometimes she will accompany me on cases where her calm demeanour clearly demonstrates how to relax around other dogs.
Asha - Weimaraner
Asha is a 9 year old Weimaraner and probably the cheekiest of the crew. Asha may accompany me in cases where a dog is showing signs of timid behaviour or fear. She has an ability to guide dogs away from insecurity.
Torah - English Mastiff
The second youngest crew member is also the largest. Torah is a 5 year old naturally sweet natured dog who is integral to our work both with dogs and demonstrating to humans that a dog should not be judged on size or looks.
If you're experiencing dog behaviour and training problems, why not benefit from the experience and success of Sydney's premier dog psychologist and get specialist advice to guide you to a new and improved life together.
A dog is not almost human, and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it such