We love our fur babies, quirks and all, right?
But sometimes, these “quirks” are our animals trying to tell us that something is wrong.
Since our pets can’t talk and use words to tell us about what is going on, our pets have to rely on behaviors to communicate with us.
But what can we do when we aren’t always good at interpreting what they are trying to tell us? We also don’t always realize that our animal’s “usual” behavior isn’t actually usual, and that they are just trying to let us know that they are scared, anxious, or uncomfortable.
That’s where Janet Cutler comes in. An animal behavior specialist (with a masters degree AND a PhD!) from Canada, Janet connects with pet owners anywhere to help them learn more about what their pet is trying to tell them.
Not only does she help identify behaviors and the root cause, she provides actionable tips and strategies to help remove fear and anxiety. We worked with her when Elliott Doodle was attacking our TV. She was able to help us discover what was going on, and what we could do to help reduce his anxiety and fear.
Content for this blog post was inspired by episode 8 of the Leisure & Leashes podcast. You can listen to the full episode HERE.
What is a Virtual Animal Behavior Specialist?
An animal behavior specialist helps us learn more about what is going on for our pets. They are able to interpret behaviors, and have spent years studying animal behaviors.
You know exactly where the closest vet is, and probably where a backup vet is located. People are used to vets.
But when it comes to animal behaviors, that’s a whole different issue.
Since most people don’t live close to someone who is an animal behavior expert, that means many people go online looking for options.
A virtual animal behavior specialist is someone who works with clients online: with the rise of technology, animal behavior specialists can video chat with clients, get to meet the pets, see their homes, and train owners on how we can help our furbabies.
How Can a Virtual Animal Behavior Specialist Help?
Do you live far away from the nearest town or city? Is it hard to get around? Does your pet get carsick?
Sometimes, it’s not practical to take your pet away from their comfortable environment and can even cause more anxiety.
A virtual animal behavior specialist can be the perfect solution.
By using video conferencing and video messaging, you can connect with a virtual animal behavior specialist.
When we worked with Janet, she helped us with some major questions:
- Why was Elliott attacking the TV?
- Was there something that made him not feel safe?
- What could we do to help change that behavior?
Remember: working with a virtual animal behavior specialist is not like dropping your dog off at obedience school. You’ll consult with the specialist, and then you’ll do the work!
It’s also a lot of work. Travis and I had to prioritize working with Elliott, even during the Christmas holiday when we were ready for a break. Be ready to do the work; it’s so worth it!
What is it Like Working With a Virtual Animal Behavior Specialist?
When we started working with Janet, we had to fill out a questionnaire. Any time that we could, we tried to get video of Elliott so that she could see his behavior and look for triggers and patterns. Obviously, we didn’t want to encourage Elliott to attack the TV, but since he did it often, we were able to get video of his behavior to share with Janet.
On our first call, Travis was impressed. It was the most thorough interview we’ve ever been a part of!
After our first call, we had homework – and a LOT of it! Janet was able to figure out that Elliott got scared when he saw life-like dogs on our TV. We sometimes forget how good our technology is!
We had to help positively reinforce good behaviors in Elliott, and Janet helped us to find ways that we could help Elliott feel safe and secure.
Now, his kennel is turned away from the TV so he can’t see it. We play a music channel on the TV when we’re not around – Elliott is partial to music from the 1970’s. We’ve seen a huge improvement in Elliott since we worked with Janet!
We can whole-heartedly recommend working with a virtual animal behavior specialist after our experience with Janet!
Talk to Us
Does your furbaby have any “unusual” behavior that might be it trying to tell you something? Have you ever worked with an animal behavior specialist (virtual or not)? What was your experience? We’d love to hear more about how it went!0