It goes a little something like this. “I tried x and my dog still does y.” My response: “How are the training exercises I suggested going?” Client’s reply: “Well, I haven’t really done them.” Sigh. Now, I love my clients and most of them are so good at practicing their recommended training and management exercises. But, like so many of us, sometimes they just want a quick fix. We are looking for a product or solution that we can give our pet and not have to do any additional work. Unfortunately, in most dog or cat behavior cases, this is not possible.
As a professional pet specialist, I realize a lot of background information and leg-work needs to be done before I even take on a case. When I’m working with a pet guardian, the first step is for the human clients to fill out a behavior and medical history form on each of their pets. And this pet history form is not short; it’s over 100 questions. After a client returns their pet behavior profile, I review the pet’s history, eating routine, medical history, and daily activities, then the client and I follow up with a 2-3 hour consultation. During the initial consultation, we talk about their pet’s behavior, the client’s goals, management tools, and lay out a detailed behavior modification program. Then we discuss what I call “add-ons.”
Add-ons are just as they sound, an addition to something else. In this case, they’re used in addition to an active behavior modification program, not instead of. My typical dog or cat behavioral training add-ons are things like food therapy, specific exercises, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, vitamins, calming music, anxiety wraps, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, or essential oils. My recommendations are very specific to each case; there isn’t a one size fits all. These pet calming aids are considered natural, with a low risk of side effects. That, however, doesn’t mean a client shouldn’t speak with their veterinarian, particularly if we are considering things like herbs, vitamins, or essential oils. Sometimes, a pet may also need a pharmaceutical intervention.
Using additional calming aids like the ones mentioned above can help a dog or cat relax and feel more comfortable, providing a pet parent the chance to implement a behavior modification program. If a pet is too stressed or reactive to be able to concentrate, then a training program can be hard to start. And sometimes a pet is so stressed all day long that it is unhealthy and even inhumane to allow him to feel that way. Natural calming remedies can provide a window of opportunity to help change a pet’s behavior. But, they are unlikely to work alone over the longer term. This is why for reliable success, a good training protocol is needed, along with calming aids.
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