Behaviour Consultation Service
Behaviour consultations are designed to address specific problematic behaviours, generally involving some level of fear, anxiety or distress, and that may impact on the safety of others in the environment, or that may be having a profound effect on the quality of life of the pet and/or caregiver. As a practitioner of applied behaviour analysis, my first goal is to identify the origins, development of, and functions of the problem behaviours. I then develop a behaviour modification plan to manage and modify the problem behaviours and help the caregivers learn how to execute that plan.
All behaviour modification plans employ a set of current, up-to-date methodologies, practices, and procedures that have proven to be most effective in supporting and safeguarding animal well-being, that maximize the effective use of reinforcers to modify animal behaviour, that reflect duty of care to the animal’s health, safety and wellbeing, and that actively promote the human-animal bond.
When working with behaviour, there are no ‘lifetime’ guarantees. Behaviour is dynamic, and an individual’s behavioural responses are influenced by the changing environment. I can provide the caregiver with strategies to improve their pet’s behaviour, but behaviour change depends on many factors including the caregiver’s commitment to implementing recommendations over the long term. Stable behaviour change will always require consistency, time, and long-term management.
Health and behaviour are interrelated: health affects behaviour and behaviour affects health. Therefore I am prepared to work in collaboration with the pet's veterinary team towards supporting the emotional and behavioural health of the animal. Depending on the nature of the problem behaviours and the pet’s responsiveness to management and training recommendations, I may refer cases to a veterinary behaviourist: a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine dedicated to helping pets with mental health issues. To learn more about this specialty field, please refer to https://www.animalsense.com.au/.
A typical in-home behaviour consultation service usually includes the following stages:
1. Intake questionnaire or interview
I will collect a history of the pet's life so far, a description of the current living situation, a description of the problem behaviour and the circumstances in which the behaviours happen, and a history of what the caregivers have done to address the issues so far.
2. Initial consultation and observation
I will visit the caregivers and pet in their current environment and observe the pet’s behaviour. Based on the history and descriptions of the problem behaviours, I will identify the antecedents and consequences of those behaviours. This initial consult is designed to determine the extent and severity of the behaviours and immediately set in place a strategy for managing the pet.
3. Intervention design
The interventions are designed to conform to the Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) model of behaviour modification. The interventions will include a management plan that prevents the problem behaviours from occurring, and a modification plan that teaches the pet a more desirable alternative, using relevant principles of applied behaviour analysis.
I will teach the caregivers foundation training skills, such as how to use a marker and how to deliver appropriate reinforcement. I will also teach the caregivers how to recognise the environmental antecedents to the problem behaviours - what causes the behaviours to happen, how to observe and interpret their pet's body language, and how to recognise signs of stress. The caregivers will then follow the recommendations in the behaviour modification plan, with follow-on sessions as necessary.
All sessions are followed up by session notes and relevant handouts plus ongoing support via phone/email. Follow-up sessions are scheduled at the end of the initial session.
Depending on the presenting problem behaviours and the needs of the caregivers, the Behaviour Consultation Service will include two to three in-home sessions. The initial session is 2 hours in duration, and subsequent sessions last for 1.5-2 hours.
Package pricing starts at $600
Follow-up consultations are 90 minutes in duration and cost $200
Canine, feline, and other companion pets of all ages are seen.
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