Happy New Year everyone!
As customary this time of the year, new resolutions are made. As such, we have made a resolution to kick off the new year with a renewed vigor by writing new articles about animal behavior, and behavior-related topics, for all of you to read and enjoy.
A lot has changed with our practice since our last blog article. Previously, we were doing house call consultations only, and running classes out of dog daycares and boutique pet stores. While we enjoyed doing that, we really wanted a place that we could call “home”. After almost a year and a half of searching, we found a location in NW Portland that worked very well for us, and we named it the Synergy Behavior Center.
While we still do house call consults, most of our consultations, classes, and other events are now at the facility. Now we have a great variety of services that we can offer to the Portland-area pets and their people. We have been in our Behavior Center for just over a year, and we and our clients are loving it!
Several people have asked us to write about how the different parts of our practice fit together, so here’s a quick description.
All of Synergy Veterinary Behavior’ team members have the goal of providing compassionate and experienced behavioral care for clients and their pets. All of us have also had personal experience living with a pet who is not behaving the way that we would like. Through working through how to help them, we can relate to what clients are going through. We also know that sometimes it takes a village, or at least a group of supportive people, to help when things get difficult.
Synergy is unique in the way that we offer a wide range of services specifically focused on helping improve problematic behaviors. Here are some examples…
Behavior Health Assessments
I conduct Behavior Health Assessments for both dogs and cats. Common problems that I treat include fears, phobias, aggression, inappropriate vocalization, and house-soiling. These behavioral medicine assessments allow my clients and I to discuss their pet’s overall behavioral status, discuss diagnoses, and develop customized plans to help them improve the situation. Because of my veterinary medicine and behavioral background, I am able to draw on a broad range of knowledge to help clients understand why their pet is behaving the way it is, what are possible treatment options, and start their pets on the path to better behavior.
One of the biggest challenges in behavioral medicine is implementing the behavior modification or training strategies that clients often need to do to help their pets. In many cases, step-by-step help during a treatment plan leads to quicker and better improvements. We want our clients to succeed, so we developed follow-up services for clients designed to help implement the training that we discuss during the assessment. Some of our most popular services are:
- Behavior Therapy Sessions: Individual sessions with our Certified Professional Dog Trainers, or sometimes with me. During these sessions, clients learn skills that they then practice at home.
- Stay and Train: The dog stays with us for the day and our trainers work with them. The dog then goes home with you at night. Depending on the skills that the client wants the dog to learn, the stay may be one day or many. The trainer also meets with the client and shows how to improve and maintain the training, and follows up with them to make sure that the training is going well.
- Group Classes: Over the years we have been proud to create classes that meet the needs of both our patients and the pet community as a whole. Our group classes focus on improving problem behaviors such as on-leash reactivity (e.g. barking, lunging, etc.) towards other dogs, fearful behavior, and concerns with being handled. Not all classes require that the clients meet with me first, but some (such as our Human-Directed Reactivity class) do.
When someone has a pet with a behavior problem, there is necessarily a lot of focus on the pet and how to change the behavior. However, supporting the people with the pets is also so important for this process to succeed. One of our goals is to provide not just behavioral services, but also a community to help support our clients on their training journey. We run a monthly Reactive Dog Owner Social Club, where clients with can meet and talk about their life with a reactive dog. We also hold presentations and workshops on regular basis and contribute our time and facility to organizations like Animal Community Talks to help educate the rescue and shelter community.
So that’s Synergy in a nutshell. I hope that it helps give you a snapshot of what we do. As the year goes on, we look forward to exploring all things behavior. Enjoy!
~ Dr. Valli