I decided to work with animals because I am just so passionate about them; it is my life's work and my vocation. I talk of nothing else - anyone who knows me can testify to this, I'm sure!
I have a Combined Honours Degree in Animal Behaviour & Marine Biology (my major being in Animal Behaviour) from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge and I ran a successful behaviour practice working on veterinary referral in the UK and have been running my own thriving practice here in France for the last 3 years, offering private consultations and dog training classes.
I only use methods that are ethical, professional and effective (clicker, whistle and target) with a belief that prevention is better than cure. I do not use choke chains, prong collars, or any aversive stimulus. My aim is to improve animal welfare and positively shape the bond between pet and owner.
I have been working with animals for over 15 years and have experience working with a wide variety of species, from dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, Moluccan Cockatoos, Umbrella Cockatoos, Bottlenose Dolphins, Patagonian Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Burmese Pythons, Humboldt Penguins, goats, various fish species, otters and many more.
Within my practice I do work with a wide range of domestic species from dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, parrots and all species of birds, horses, farm animals...
I assist with all kinds of behavioural problems such as aggression, separation anxiety, compulsive behaviour, fears and phobias, house soiling, etc.
I am also able to help with problems/issues relating to veterinary examination and procedures (using stethoscope, otoscope and checking teeth, microchip etc) in liaison with owners and their veterinary professional. Where there are problems/issues relating to veterinary procedures I work with the vet and owner so their pet can be desensitised to the required treatments and handling, this can be done in the same way with owner and groomer so grooming becomes a positive experience. This training can be applied for care routines within the home for example when cleaning ears, eyes and brushing...
I always arrange for a professional one to one consultation to meet with clients and their pets at their home, where I can carry out a complete assessment. This allows me to evaluate the root causes of any behavioural problems, provide professional recommendations and formulate a training programme/schedule which can then be followed.
My role as an animal behaviourist is to assess and establish the behavioural problems and issues being displayed by an animal.
My belief is that a behaviourist cannot really exist without the knowledge and expertise of an animal trainer (or trainer specific to the species concerned). Both roles complement each other. The behaviourist will identify causation in terms of behavioural problems and make recommendations on changes to routine/environment, diet but in terms of effecting positive changes to undesirable behaviour and changing the perceptions of pets that may be non-adaptive as well as hindering that animal’s welfare; the professional tools of an animal training are required. The toolkit that a trainer can provide can really allow an owner to work effectively with any undesirable behaviour, focusing on positively shaping desirable, alternative behaviour.
I am able to define possible causes for behavioural problems by carrying out a full assessment of the animal concerned.
My first step when working with a client and their pet is to study all aspects their pets environment, routines (exercise, feeding, sleeping etc.), diet, health issues (e.g. weight, physical conditions, any medication their pet is currently taking, previous training, the behavioural problems themselves, their occurrence, how the client/family has dealt with them up to date and much more.
In addition to this my role as a behaviourist is to help owners understand their pet’s world, what could be contributing to behavioural problems and provide them with a treatment/training schedule in order that they can move forward with their pet, ultimately allowing their pet to enjoy better welfare, a happier and more fulfilled life but also that the owner can enjoy having great experiences with their pet.
I often work on referral from veterinary practices and once a physiological cause for a particular behavioural problem is ruled out, I can then start my assessment and treatment process with my client and their pet.
In many cases I do also work in coordination with the vet.
The assessment is highly comprehensive focusing on all elements of the pet’s life and history. Essentially my focus is on all aspects of a pet’s behaviour.
My role as an Animal Trainer is to provide the tools to positively shape behaviour, this could just be to set the basis for good obedience, allowing an owner to develop that all important bond and the cooperative relationship they are looking to establish with their pet or it may be to work specifically with behavioural problems, with the aim to training more desirable alternative behaviour.
Training provides important enrichment to pets as well as provides the fundamental tools an owner needs to effectively communicate with their pet.
Training is an important aspect of animal management and allows a pet to learn to focus on their owner, have lots of fun, learn new skills, master new challenges and enjoy both physical and mental stimulation, which altogether promotes good welfare and increase overall health and happiness.
I believe in much the same way that a behaviourist cannot exist without the expertise of a trainer, a trainer too cannot exist without the knowledge of a behaviourist or at least some basic knowledge of behaviour. The two roles complement each other and if you understand an animal’s behaviour, you can better tailor your training schedule, understand possible causes for unwanted behaviour and ways in which you can take the motivation away for these behaviours as well as tailor your training to best suit that animal.
When training you must know the animal you are working with, their physiology, their natural history and morphology, it is no good training your dog to fly and your parrot to sit, you need to understand the physical capabilities of the pet you are working with.
My role as a trainer is to encourage my clients and their pets and I love seeing the positive changes that occur, it is just fantastic!!!