In a blog article for Psychology Today, the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists examines the ways in which we respond to unwanted behaviors in our pets — and how our reaction may often be more inappropriate than the behavior was to begin with. By responding to aggressive or fearful reactions in dogs with punishment or correction, we may end up exacerbating problems and “squashing” healthy, appropriate ways our dogs are trying to communicate.
Read more at the full article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/decoding-your-pet/201504/squash-it
Spring is symbolically the season of growth and new beginnings, and over at the Animal Behavior Clinic, we are very excited to announce the incredible ways in which our practice is blossoming this year. With the addition of ongoing training support for our clients last year, we have expanded this service by leaps and bounds. Now, each of our clients can benefit from our team approach which begins with Dr. Pachel’s assessment and treatment building, and is followed by one-on-one coaching with one of our training staff to help implement recommendations and see successful changes more rapidly than ever before.
We are proud to welcome two new full time trainers to our staff: Megan Cruz, KPA-CTP, who many of our clients have already grown to depend upon since she “took to the field” for us last October, and our latest addition, Stephanie Collingsworth, CPDT-KA. Megan and Stephanie join our existing trainer and technician Jenn Fiendish, CVT, VTS (Behavior), and all boast decades of training experience and uphold high standards for quality care and compassion for animals that make them the perfect fit for the Animal Behavior Clinic. They are able to provide in-home as well as on or off site behavior modification sessions to our clients, helping to train patients in the humane, science-based techniques Dr. Pachel recommends throughout the course of their treatment.
We are so thrilled to see our team growing in such wonderful ways, and we all look forward to assisting you and your pets in the months that follow! Please check back soon for a major website update, which will expand on the new services and assistance we will be able to provide.
~ Maren & The ABC Team
Corneliuz had an appointment on Friday with Dr. Kevin Stepaniuk, the veterinary dentist at Columbia River Veterinary Specialists. He has a chipped upper premolar, and has a bit of discoloration on his lower canine teeth at the site of previous dental work (which I learned is normal and likely nothing to be concerned about, whew!), but has accumulated a significant amount of tartar/calculus and will be having a dental cleaning within the near future.
Now, as you know, Corneliuz has significant dog-dog reactivity and more than his fair share of impulse control issues, which makes the act of heading into a busy veterinary clinic potentially a really stressful experience for everyone involved! We’ve been working extensively on relaxation since he joined the household, and recently introduced “matwork” to his training plan as a way to create a mobile, conditioned relaxation spot that can be used to bring his arousal level down and provide a “home base” for settling even in an otherwise stimulating environment.
We have practiced the matwork exercises in many locations around our home, but hadn’t yet had an opportunity to “take it on the road” to see how well he would generalize what he had learned. This was more than a little leap in our training plan, but I figured we’d treat it like a “probe trial” and see how well it would work for him.
HE. WAS. AMAZING! Thankfully there weren’t any other dogs in the lobby when we entered, so we had a chance to sniff around a bit, practice a round or two of “find it” in that space, and then he hopped onto his mat and settled as soon as it was placed on the floor. After a few rounds of settling and release, we moved into the consult room and practiced the same routine. He was settled within minutes, was released from the mat to greet and interact with Dr. Stepaniuk and the rest of his team, and then settled back on the mat with the benefit of intermittent reinforcement while Dr. Stepaniuk discussed the plan for the upcoming dental procedure. We even had the opportunity to practice the exercise in one of the other hallways of the practice before we left so that when he has to go back in for his procedure, it won’t be quite as dramatic an experience.
If you are already a client at the Animal Behavior Clinic, you may be familiar with techniques such as this one, and we’d love to hear how you’ve used “matwork” or the “find it” exercise in your adventures! If you’re not familiar and want to learn more, we’d love to see you for a consult and get you set up with one of our team members to show you how this can work for you and your dog!
~ Dr. Pachel