Frequently Asked Questions – General

What is Synergy all about?

Our behavior team believes that in order to improve a pet’s behavior, a group of concerned people can come together to find solutions. By bringing together veterinarians, animal behaviorists, dog trainers and yourself to help your pet, we create the synergy for behavior solutions.

Here are some other questions that we are regularly asked…

Why do you prefer Rewards-Based Techniques?
We love the fact that our clients think of their pets as close family members who should be treated with kindness and respect. The process of reward-based training is set up to help treat the underlying motivation for the behavior rather than just addressing the symptoms, which produces the best results for long-lasting behavioral change.

Using reward-based methods also minimizes stress during training, which promotes learning. Techniques using rewards create a better bond of trust between you and your pet, especially for learning new skills later on in life.

We agree with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) when they state that using rewards rather than punishment is the standard of care when addressing behavior problems. We also agree with them that dominance as a model for behavioral diagnosis and treatment is outdated, undesirable and misleading.

In our many years of experience, we have seen a great number of negative side-effects of using punishment and dominance-based methodologies including: increased aggression, fears and phobias, bites to people and dogs and destruction of the trust bonds between people and their pets.

Why was I recommended to see Dr. Valli rather than a trainer? Or vice versa?
We offer a wide variety of services to our clients and it is important to us that we find the service that best fits your pet’s behavior and training needs. When our staff evaluate your pet’s situation, we meet with each other to discuss the behavior history that you have shared with us about your pet and the answers to any questions we have posed to you.

We will sometimes also evaluate your pet’s medical and training history and collaborate with your previous trainer and/or veterinarian to get a more complete picture. Bringing all this information together, we recommend the service that we believe will benefit you and your pet the most, so that you get the best behavioral outcome for your pet.

I am already working with a trainer. Will I have to switch to a Synergy trainer after seeing Dr. Valli?
While our trainers are highly experienced in a wide variety of behavior problems, and can assist with your pet’s behavior therapy if it is requested, there is no obligation to switch to working with a Synergy trainer after working with Dr. Valli.

We often get referrals from other trainers and Dr. Valli works closely with them, sharing the client and setting up a behavior therapy program that the original trainer helps to implement.

At other times, the referring trainer would prefer that Synergy’s trainers help the client with the specific challenge as they may have more experience with it. We have also worked directly with a referring trainer to help guide them with implementing their client’s recommended behavior therapy program.

If I work with Dr. Valli, will I have to switch to using her as my veterinarian?
While she will be acting as your veterinarian for the behavioral matters you are working on with her, she will not be taking on the role of your primary veterinarian. Your own veterinarian will continue to perform your pet’s annual exams, vaccinations and any other healthcare needs that your pet may have.

When you meet with Dr. Valli, she will be working closely with your primary veterinarian to gather information about your pet’s medical history. She will also collaborate with them to share information about her findings about your pet and to recommend medical tests that may need to be performed to move forward with the behavior modification program she sets up for your pet.

If other dogs are barking in my reactivity class, won't that make my dog more reactive?
Synergy’s classes are structured in such way to help dogs succeed and to minimize their stress during training. In our reactivity classes, dogs are behind barriers and brought out only at times when they are being actively trained to calmly see other dogs. This helps to minimize the chances that dogs in class will bark.

However, when other dogs in class bark (or make other stimulating noises) it actually becomes an opportunity for all other participants in class to reward their dogs to form a positive association with the noises and to reward them for their own quiet behavior. We also teach students how to quickly settle their dog down if they choose to bark, and help them succeed in staying calm.

We welcome observers to our classes, so please let us know if you’d like to come and watch a class and see how quiet and well-controlled they are!

Why do you collect a deposit for my pet's behavior health assessment?
It is important to us that each patient and client have a consultation that is tailored to their needs, and is run in an efficient manner. We do this is by having our staff discuss your pet’s behavioral and medical history well before your visit with us. Doing this allows Dr. Valli to focus more time on evaluating why your pet is doing what she’s doing, and discussing treatment options with you during the actual appointment, rather than gathering lots of information during your valuable time with us.

Another reason that we collect the non-refundable deposit is that we want to make sure that you are as committed to helping improve your pet’s behavior as we are. By dedicating this money to your pet’s behavioral care, you are letting us know that you are ready to move forward with having us help you make lasting positive changes in how your pet behaves.

How does Synergy's deposit and cancellation policy work?
Under normal circumstances, the deposit that you pay in advance will be applied towards the cost of the consultation you have with Dr. Valli. We understand that life happens, and things can change suddenly or unexpectedly, leaving you unable to attend your scheduled appointment time. Please review the situations in which our cancellation policy applies (below) to understand what applies to your circumstances. If you have any questions, we are happy to answer them. Please contact us.

  • If you contact us to reschedule your appointment at least 72 hours before the appointment time, your deposit may be applied to a reschedule of your appointment one time only. Scheduling the new appointment must take place within 30 days of the original appointment date. NOTE: If the appointment is cancelled or rescheduled a second time, the deposit will neither be applied to the rescheduled session or refunded.
  • If you contact us to reschedule your appointment less than 72 hours prior to a scheduled appointment time, we will be happy to reschedule a new appointment. However, the deposit you have paid will not be applied to the cost of the rescheduled session, nor refunded to you.
  • If you cancel your appointment without rescheduling (within 30 days) for a later date: your deposit will not be refunded.
When I provide my personal information to you, what happens to it?
The information that you provide to us is held in strict confidence and will not be sold to others for promotional purposes. We do share case information with your veterinarian (to keep them informed about our findings and your progress) was well as any trainer you request for us to share it with, to help in your pet’s behavior therapy program.

The email address you provide when you contact us may be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your pet’s specific services, in addition to receiving occasional practice news, updates and information about related products or services.

For complete details about the terms for use of our website, our privacy policy and how your information is handled, please visit our Website Use and Data Policy page for more complete information.