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  • Liz MacHaffie

Behavior Program Expectations

Updated: 5 days ago



What's the goal of a behavior program?


To maximize your dog's individual potential for a happy, healthy life. (Like our motto for all we do, "More joy, less stress!") We want everyone to live the best life they can. We'll help you set realistic expectations for your dog and yourself throughout your program.


Is a behavior program a "cure"?


Behaviorists have made great strides in how much we can help dogs (and other animals, including people) live less stressful, safer lives. The very best techniques we have are closer to a "treatment" than a "cure".


Ear infections are "cured" (generally); after a course of antibiotics, the infection is gone! Nothing left to worry about. Things like anxiety or Celiac disease are "treated"; there's no magic pill for it, but there's LOTS we can do to minimize how much it impacts life.


Working on behavior challenges with dogs (and cats!) is a lot like that. We can expect that a behavior program can significantly improve their lives (and ours) in many ways! We can also expect that some management might be needed for the rest of their lives. For some, it isn't much at all! Others will need more significant support to stay successful and safe.


How long will it take?


Many owners will see some improvements in the first weeks of a program! (Some see improvement after one session.) In the world of behavior, slow and steady wins the race! The average dog takes several months to reach their full potential. Every dog is an individual, and we like to help you meet your dog where they're at!


Why does it take this long? A lot of problem behaviors are actually rooted in very strong emotions (like anxiety, fear, and frustration). They're also often repeatedly reinforced by the situation. (Every time a territorial dog barks at the mailcarrier, they eventually walk away! Every time a fearful dog barks at strangers and they back away, they feel better!) So we often have a super mix of strong emotions and/or well-developed habits. Emotions and habits take time to really change. (Think of a person working on their anxiety or a compulsive behavior; they won't be better overnight.)


Most dogs reach their maximum potential several weeks or even months after their last session; our programs are designed so that you have all the tools you need to confidently implement the final parts of your dog's program. We'll check in with you periodically after graduation, and you can always schedule "touch up" sessions later if needed! We're here for your dog's life.


What do I need to do?


We'll give you the tools and know-how to help your dog. Your role for your dog is:

  1. To carry out the behavior plan. While we wish we could wave a magic wand and help your dog just within our sessions, behavior change takes time and practice. Your dog's behaviors won't change unless your behaviors do. And they won't be consistent unless you are. We'll help you find ways to maximize your success and fit training into your lifestyle.

  2. To let us know if you have questions, concerns, or struggles. We want more joy and less stress for both you and your dog! Email us so we can help you both out ASAP :) Timely, honest communication helps us do our best for you.

We're here to help you succeed, and we're always rooting for you and your dog!

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