Frequently Asked Questions
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What's the difference between a general dog trainer and a behavior consultant like Scott?
General dog trainers teach dogs various obedience cues and tricks such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come”, etc. Behavior consultants focus on problematic behaviors such as aggression, separation anxiety, resource guarding, fear, hyperactivity, etc. General dog trainers refer clients to Scott if they recognize that a dog's issues are serious and behavior based. The education, skills, knowledge and independent certifications required for behavior consulting are notably different from general dog training. Significant behavior issues in dogs are often difficult and complicated to treat. Whomever you choose to help you and your dog, find someone who is a properly certified and experienced full-time canine behavior specialist.
What qualifies Scott as a canine or dog behavior specialist?
Scott has a lifetime of experience and has been independently certified by multiple professional organizations as a competent and experienced canine behavior professional (IAABC, CCPDT, APDT, ABC). Most notably, he is recognized as a fully certified member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). The IAABC has awarded him the CDBC (Certified Dog Behavior Consultant) designation. There are less than 300 professionals worldwide with this behavior specialist qualification. For more information on Scott, click here.
How many sessions does it normally take when working with a dog that has behavior issues?
For most behavioral issues, Scott will see clients and their dogs for two to four one-hour sessions after the initial one-hour assessment session. The first session is used to complete an assessment and create a treatment plan. The assessment is a chargeable session. The sessions following the assessment introduce the owner and dog to the behavior modification techniques that will be used.
Is Scott training me or the dog?
The short answer is that he is primarily training the dog's owner. Think of behavior modification in dogs in the same way that you think of engaging the services of a fitness instructor. You meet with the fitness instructor who assesses your fitness level and goals. Next, the instructor creates a custom fitness program and explains and demonstrates the exercises to you. Finally, you execute the program on a regular basis and watch your muscles and fitness levels grow. Behavior modification in dogs is no different, but substitute a certified dog behaviorist for the fitness instructor.
What are the various options and costs of working with a behavior consultant like Scott?
We offer three different ways for Scott to help you with your dog's behavior issues. Please see Lesson Options/Pricing for more information.
What geographical area does Scott serve?
Scott provides one-hour private sessions at the client's location in N. Dallas, Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Addison, Highland Park and University Park. He also provides private training sessions at his location in Dallas, Texas for those living outside the service area noted above or for those opting to come to his location. In addition to private sessions at the client's location or at his location, he also provides emergency-need phone consultations.
I'm in Scott's service area and he can come to my location. Is it better for him to come to me or for me to go to him?
In our introductory phone conversation, we will ask you a number of questions about your dog. From this information, we will be able to advise you if it is best for Scott to come to your house. The majority of cases do not require Scott to go to your location.
What is my involvement in modifying the behavior of my dog?
After assessing your dog, Scott will educate you on what needs to be done and demonstrate multiple times with your dog. He will also clearly communicate in written form everything that has been discussed. The majority of Scott's efforts are focused on educating the dog's owner.
Does Scott work with all dogs?
Yes, all sizes, purebreds, mixed breed and All American (i.e., mutts). He specializes in dogs six months and older in age. For dogs less than six months of age (i.e., puppies), Scott will normally refer you to someone who specializes in puppies.
Will Scott work with clients who have multiple dogs?
Yes. Scott enjoys working with multi-dog homes; in cases with in-home dog aggression, it will be necessary for him to work with all the dogs in the home.
Does Scott use shock, prong or choke collars?
No. Experienced and knowledgeable dog professionals know that these collars are not only painful for the dog, but they are ineffective - especially over time. Scott has seen many dogs that were referred to him because of the behavioral damage these collars caused. Positive rewards not only provide more durable results, but they don't poison the relationship between dog and owner.
What are all those letters after dog trainers' names?
The number of dog trainer certifications and certifying organizations seems to be exploding. There is a difference between being certified and having a certification. A certification simply means that someone has paid to complete a course of study at a school for individuals wanting to be dog trainers. Being certified means that an independent and objective professional organization has tested and recognized the skill and knowledge of a professional dog trainer or behavior consultant. In addition to testing, being certified also requires ongoing training (i.e., CEUs), experience requirements and professional recommendations. The APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers), of which Scott is a professional member, only recognizes and acknowledges 5 designations for fully certified dog behavior specialists and behaviorists. Scott's behavior credentials are in this group and are recognized by the APDT.
I took my dog for obedience training for two weeks at a board-and-train facility; since I've gotten him back, he seems very troubled. What happened?
While there are certainly reputable board-and-train facilities, too many of them use somewhat crude training techniques and harsh punishment. Remember two things: 1) no one is going to care more about your dog and your dog's behavior than you and, 2) owners need to see how their dog is being trained so they can effectively implement what's being learned. For more information, see A Dozen Reasons to do Your Homework Before Sending Your Dog Away for Training.
Can most behavior issues in dogs be cured or fixed?
For many simple behavior issues such as unruliness (i.e., jumping, mouthing, barking, etc.), these unwanted behaviors can be virtually eliminated in most cases. For other more serious issues such as aggression, separation anxiety, resource guarding, fear, compulsive behaviors, etc. these behaviors can normally be improved although they typically cannot be completely eliminated.
Does Scott work with rescue dogs?
Yes, his Great Pyrenees, Luke, is a rescue. This is one of his specialties as he does volunteer work in shelters and enjoys working with these special dogs.
What is an alpha-rollover?
An alpha-rollover consists of an owner forcibly pushing his or her dog to the ground in a supine position to gain "dominance." This behavior is theoretically from wolf packs but has never been observed or recorded in the wild. Because of bad information frequently found on the internet and made-for-TV dog training shows, many dog owners believe they must physically "dominate" their dogs. This can result in owners abusing their dogs and not even knowing it. Animal behavioral science has proven that positive training techniques work best and have the best chance for long-term success.
Will Scott take my dog and train him/her off-site?
No. He knows the owner is primarily responsible for the ongoing training of a dog. If the owner isn’t aware of the training and behavior techniques used, there is no reinforcement and learned behaviors are quickly lost.
Does Scott do this full-time?
Yes, Scott does behavior consulting full-time.
Besides working with clients' dogs, what other involvement does Scott have with dogs?
In addition to private consultations, Scott conducts seminars for veterinary practices, rescue shelters and dog owner groups. He also is a consultant for municipal animal control services and is a legal consultant in dog bite cases.
Does Scott work with veterinarians?
Yes, the majority of Scott's clients are referrals from veterinarians. If necessary, Scott works together with the client's veterinarian to identify medications that can support Scott's behavior modification treatment plan. Even when medication is not required, Scott keeps the client's veterinarian informed of the assessment and behavior modification protocols being used.
Does Scott train cats or other animals?
Scott certainly loves all animals, including cats. However, his area of expertise and experience are with dogs.
My dog has bitten another dog/human. Is this important for Scott to know?
Yes. An aggressive bite to a dog or human is a “felony” in the dog world. Even once. Scott specializes in aggression and understands the various motivations behind biting behavior and what behavior modification techniques may be appropriate.
What is "leadership" training?
Dogs don't want to run your home. They want you to be the leader of the house and take care of them. When dogs sense a leadership vacuum, they will try to fill the void themselves resulting in a multitude of behavior issues.
What are the ingredients for successful behavior modification?
Patience, consistency and realistic expectations.
Can an aggressive dog that inflicts serious bites be completely rehabilitated with no chance of future aggressive behaviors?
No. After treatment for this kind of aggression is completed, owners must manage their dog's interactions for the remainder of the pet's life. This helps to ensure that their dog is never put in a situation that might provoke an aggressive response potentially endangering other animals or people. Once a dog has accessed severe biting as a response, biting is permanently in his behavior inventory, even though he may never choose to bite again.