“Excellent staff. Welcoming environment. Dr. Pachel and his team really put a lot of effort and time into their clients. Very happy that I brought my dog Django here for his resource/fear aggression. They have given me a lot of confidence, and tools to manage my guys fears. We’re continuing to improve! Can’t say enough honestly. Thank you for all that you do for us! It really is the little things they do to make you and your dog feel unique!”
– Amanda S.
“My work with Shams has been a daily practice and much like my yoga and meditation it has made me go into myself in order to more deeply understand my reactions and a little more about how the human psyche works. I do want to give a little plug to my husband Carl who has also had to learn many of the lessons, to the dog trainers that we have worked with and especially to Dr. Chris Pachel of the Animal Behavior Clinic, who was able to see the good in me even as I struggled with this very challenging dog. He responded to my frustrations with compassion and care as well as some really needed advice to give up my obstinate resistance to medication and give Shams the meds that finally helped to reorganize his brain enough that he could start learning again.”
– Leslie E., from her blog post “Medicine for living in a crazy world.”
“Christopher was recommended by a dog trainer when my dog Ike was demonstrating impulsive behavior and not retaining the training lessons. It became clear very quickly that I needed his expertise in behavior as I learned that Ike’s chemistry is very “reactive” which doesn’t allow him to naturally concentrate on training and also results in a lot of over reacting to normal everyday situations. Once Christopher provided guidance for medication for Ike and training for both of us, we have progressed so that both Ike and I know what to expect from each other. Ike continues to be reactive to other dogs which is our biggest challenge when walking in the park, but Christopher recommended exercises and a dog trainer that has helped us manage the situation. With some types of dog behavior we also have to adjust our own expectations of our dogs which can be a challenge. Thanks to Christopher’s help we enjoy every day, take challenges as they come and have the tools to manage.The most rewarding thing is that I have grown in my confidence which Ike has responded to as he will look at me for direction and has become much more affectionate as well. Christopher is a key part of “Team Ike” and we both look forward to our annual checkup with him!”
– Monica C.
“Dr. Pachel is a delight to work with in every facet of his job. As a client… he is a caring, intelligent and intuitive Veterinary Behavorist. As a lecturerer, he is informative, interesting and worth every second of information he delivers. He is extemely fun to listen to and has an incredible gift with challenging cases. As a client, he is smart, focused and open to new ideas and information. Dr. Pachel is an amazing veterinarian!”
– Nona N.
“Can’t say enough great things about Dr. Gray and our consult with her regarding our dog. She was honest, presented all facts and expectations of our choices for treatment. She was professional, caring, and above all–knowledgeable about what we were facing. We were given answers–not quick fixes, but reality with trustworthy advice. If you have exhausted all other avenues and you need a professional who knows canine behavior–Dr. Gray is who you need to see to understand your situation. Your answer may not be easy to accept, but you will know you received the best advice possible.”
– Beverly W.
“Here’s what you have: Your dog is not “normal.” He howls with fear; he flips out at the slightest provocation. You’re exhausted. The neighbors are nervous. You love the dog. What should you do?
If you’re lucky, you find yourself in Dr. Paige Pierce’s care. You will learn why reactive dogs need proactive training. You will learn that positive reinforcement training takes work at the front end, but nothing else pays off better – your dog can make peace with himself. Without Dr. Pierce, our dog, James, would not have gotten close.
You will learn that medication, if necessary, isn’t a substitute for training: it’s a means to an end. For a dog too fearful to think clearly, meds unlock his brain, making training possible.
Dogs like James need help – they just can’t make it by themselves. It’s easy to miss this. “Normal dogs” don’t have this problem. A reactive dog is not comfortable in his own skin. Flooded with fear and anger, he isn’t healthy either. It’s also easy to condemn these dogs, to assume they are fear-aggressive by choice. It’s especially easy to censure them if they look pitty. But James, a Dr. Seuss/pitty cross, got lucky. James got a big break: he found Dr. Pierce.
Dr. Pierce can hear a dog think. She knows when a dog is too overcharged to think. And she knows, with breath-taking care, how to help the dog.
James, a rescue, was smart, eager, and desperately fearful. He was explosively reactive. He was afraid of moths, song-birds, sounds in the night, other dogs, people. James believed life was dangerous. Something was wrong in his brain.
Positive reinforcement training was the only way out for this little guy.
A reactive dog needs something to work toward, not something to be pushed away from. He needs rewards for success so that he knows he can succeed. Here’s the challenge: for a reactive dog, proactive training is not a set of ultimate demands. A good positive reinforcement trainer like Dr. Pierce takes each big-ticket demand apart into discrete steps which add up, step by step, into a flight of stairs or rungs of a ladder, up and out of the dog’s well of fear. Small steps, rewards for success.
It sounds slow and faddish. But it isn’t. For a reactive dog, in the hands of a trainer as outstanding as Dr. Pierce, this works.
But some dogs, like James, are too reactive to climb the steps. Their brains are on fire. This is where medications may make the difference. And you need an expert as good as Dr. Pierce.
It could be a mistake to misunderstand this. Meds are not a psycho-pharmacological fashion. They are not an easy-pass substitute for training. And, for some dogs, it will take time to get them right. For James, this was not a matter of throwing Prozac his direction. That didn’t do the trick. So Dr. Pierce worked at it with dedicated patience: What is going on in this dog’s head? And she got there. She found a combination of meds James could tolerate that calmed his over-fueled brain. Then he could start to learn.
There’s one more step. To work with a dog like James, you need a three-legged stool: proactive training, medications if necessary, and – here’s the third leg – you need to let the trainer train you. Dr. Pierce excels at this. You’re not a professional trainer; you’re a reactive dog owner. But you need to understand how the training works.
It’s a precision skill that “normal” dog owners often don’t need to consider seriously. But you do. Take the time to understand the timing, the cues and responses. Don’t be impatience with this. (“But I’m paying you to train the dog!!” “You want me to do WHAT fiddly step in less than 2 minutes?!” And so on.) If you are lucky enough to find someone as good as Dr. Pierce, let your trainer train you as well as your dog.
This takes knowledge; it takes skill; it takes patience. Each of these is different. If you’re very lucky, if you find Dr. Pierce, you’ll get them all. In her hands, James could learn how to learn. Then, finally, our smart, eager dog could look forward. ”
– Helen C.
“I began working with Dr. Pachel and his staff in late 2014. I was referred to Dr. Pachel by my regular vet because my dog, Tug, was suffering from separation anxiety. I had struggled for a couple years to manage Tug’s separation anxiety on my own, but his symptoms were only getting worse.
Dr. Pachel was able to help me better understand Tug’s condition and developed a full treatment plan to help stabilize our situation. His trainer, Megan, was a godsend and worked with me on various training exercises to help manage Tug’s anxiety. When Tug developed some reactivity issues, Megan also helped me with those, bringing her own dog to help me practice different exercises and even offering up her yard for some training with a family member’s dog. She would even stay late (without charge) to help me troubleshoot some different tricks I was teaching Tug.
Throughout Tug’s treatment, Dr. Pachel and his staff were extremely professional, understanding and helpful. They helped me through a number of difficult periods and I always felt that they had mine and Tug’s best interest at heart. Dr. Pachel was also always very honest about what was realistic for Tug, and for me this was the most important part of his service. He helped me prioritize Tug’s needs and develop a treatment plan that was realistic given Tug’s issues and my resources. I can’t thank him enough for this.
A number of posters have mentioned Dr. Pachel’s fees. Yes – they are expensive. However, when you work with Dr. Pachel, not only are you getting an expert in the field, you are also working with his entire team. Dr. Pachel, Jenn, Megan and Maren all worked together to support Tug and I. We received personalized and thoughtful assistance and guidance throughout Tug’s treatment. I would pay every dollar again.
If I had to give any advice to readers seeking help for dogs with behavior issues, I would suggest engaging Dr. Pachel sooner rather than later. The longer a dog exhibits a negative behavior the harder it is to change it. At least in my case, I waited two years to engage Dr. Pachel because I thought the fees were too expensive. During those two years, I must have paid thousands of dollars for different trainers, toys, treats and repairs for the damage Tug did to her house because of his anxiety. Not to mention all of the stress and anxiety that came with not knowing how to help my dog. I’m not saying that everything magically got better when I started working with Dr. Pachel, it didn’t. But I did have a team of people supporting Tug and I as we faced these challenges and for that I am forever grateful to Dr. Pachel and his staff.”
– Jessica B.
“Dr. Pachel has helped our family/dog so much. Our dog is super anxious. He paces and he attacks our cats. He is also scared of strangers and loud noises. He has fear aggression as well. Before we met with Dr. Pachel we tried everything. We met with another behaviorist, we had a trainer come to our home once a week for several months and eventually put him on calming medicine. Some of these things helped, but he still continued many of these behaviors and my husband and I were fighting with each other and stressed every night because of our dog’s behavior.
Many people have complained about the amount of money they charge for the initial appointment and it is expensive, but I think it is justified because of how much time they spend with you and your pet, the extensive amount of education Dr. Pachel has and knowledgeable they are.
After one appointment, we learned a lot about why our dog was acting the way he was and how to fix it. After a few weeks of implementing the plan, our dog has stopped pacing and I cannot remember the last time he tried to attack our cat. Now, we enjoy our dog and enjoy our nights. Dr. Pachel and the staff has been available to answer questions and are good at following up with you. Now that we have got some of his behaviors under control, we are going to work on how to get him to be okay with strangers. We are super excited.
I would recommend him to anyone who wants to fix their dog’s behavior especially if they think nothing else will help. My husband and I were very skeptical, but we felt it was our last option and we could not be happier with the results! Thank you Dr. Pachel for helping us.”
– Lindsay L.
“I will never be able to thank Dr. Pachel and his staff enough for what they did for my family. I’d had my dog for several years and had never experienced any behavioral problems. He was in fact a very well behaved dog until one night when he suddenly changed and he could no longer be left alone without completely destroying my house. We tried everything to fix him, but his behavior only became worse. Over the course of several months we took him to multiple vets in Las Vegas (where we live) and they all told us the same thing, that suddenly my 6 year old dog who had never had any behavior problems had all of a sudden developed severe separation anxiety and nothing was medically wrong with him despite my argument. As the months passed we started receiving advice that we might have to put him down as he was becoming even more out of control when left alone.
Finally a vet recommended we see a specialized behaviorist vet, which is how we met Dr. Pachel. We drove the 16 hours from Las Vegas to Portland and met with Dr. Pachel. Initially Dr. Pachel was not entirely sure what was wrong with our dog, but after we left, he continued to research and eventually came across a medical condition that he believed was the cause for our dog’s behavior. Dr. Pachel even communicated with our vet in Las Vegas to ensure our dog was receiving the correct treatment.
Even though our dog was diagnosed with an incurable disease, we are now able to manage the systems and he is able to live the life he had before he became sick. Yes the rate may be high, but without Dr. Pachel, my dog may not be here today.”
– Lauren P.
“Full disclosure…I am also a veterinarian.
Dr. Pachel and his team are a valuable resource for any pet owner dealing with behavior issues for the past 1 & 1/2 years I have personally used his services for my adopted dog with a list of issues. Having an animal with behavior issues is like a roller coaster at times and the Portland Metro area is lucky to have a board certified veterinary behaviorist (there are only TWO practicing clinical behaviorists in OR & WA) to provide expert advice as well as provide owners with resources and APPROPRIATE local trainers that are all instrumental in a behavior modification program.
Yes, it may take a while to get an appointment and his expertise is matched by an appropriate fee, but Dr. Pachel’s (as well as his technicians) consultation, treatment plans, and communication are top-notch. I do not hesitate to recommend my own clients to the Animal Behavior Clinic.
For anyone who has a behaviorally challenging pet, there is often no quick miraculous fix (any person claiming that they can cure an animal of a serious behavior problem, IMHO, is setting an owner up for potential disaster). Managing a pet with behavior issues is an investment of time, resources, and money in order to get the best results and hopefully allow that pet to become thriving member of a family. Unfortunately, not every behavior case will have a happy ending, and Dr. Pachel’s recommendations and support in situations like these are invaluable.”
– Alayson P.
“We began working with Dr. Pachel in December 2007. We were struggling to resolve food and resource guarding issues with our one-year-old Golden Retriever pup, Abbee. Abbee was our third golden and the first with whom we had serious behavior issues.
Thirty years ago when we brought home our first golden puppy, we were taught the no-treat, command and control, choker-collar training techniques. By 2006 the trend had changed and we were treat-training, but still using the metal slip collar, and were advised by the trainers at the local obedience school to treat Abbee aggressively when she threatened us near her food and with take-aways. We followed their advice and things got worse. We were at a total loss and concerned about our future with Abbee. Our vet referred us to Dr. Christopher Pachel.
Dr. Chris changed our thinking and saved our relationship with Abbee. He set our expectations realistically, and gave us hope. He showed us that Abbee was in fact lacking confidence, not exhibiting dominant behavior, and taught us to assume a respectful directive role which gave Abbee the guidance she craved and confidence that we would lead her firmly but gently when she was unsure. We used new training techniques, some of which were just a more positive spin on what we already knew, learned how to read her body language, and made subtle changes to the way we spoke to her (telling not asking, i.e. “Abbee let’s go outside” vs. “Abbee do you want to go outside?”). Within days and weeks we were showing encouraging progress, within a month we had established a better relationship and within a few months we had a whole new relationship with our dear girl. We had enjoyed wonderful relationships with our first two goldens. With Abbee, under Dr. Pachel’s tutelage, we made a connection at an even deeper level.
Dr. Pachel is dedicated, responsive, caring, professional and honest in setting expectations. He understands the family dynamic. After our initial session and recheck, we worked with him primarily through email, providing updates and asking questions to which he would reply with guidance, fine-tuning and encouragement. He was with us every step of the way. We absolutely recommend him as a problem-solving resource. Additionally, we recommend him as a coach to anyone who wants to learn more about the human-canine bond, building trust and respect, reading your puppy/dog’s personality and understanding how you impact your relationship with your dog. We plan to ask him to coach us in the future at the beginning of a new relationship.”
Submitted with Gratitude,
– Anne and Stan G.