Gawler Animal Hospital prides itself on not only looking after the physical health of your animal but also taking care of their mental wellbeing.
My name is Sonia and I’m proud to say I am one of the veterinary nurses that take care of your furry friends. Another big part of my role as a veterinary nurse is helping your pet to have a fear free experience while visiting our clinic and also educating and problem solving with clients any concerns around behaviour. I am also proud to say I am a qualified dog behavioural trainer having studied through the Delta institute.
You may ask ‘what is a behavioural trainer and how does that differ from dog obedience’?
Well, I look at is as humans and dogs are two different species trying to live together in harmony. We can best achieve this goal by understanding each other. It needs to be a two way street.
Keep in mind that completely normal behaviours for a dog, might be something we as humans may find annoying like toileting inside, mouthing or barking. Puppies don’t come to our house knowing the difference between right or wrong. If you don’t want them to toilet inside then you will need to train them to go outside.
I would also like you to think about some of the normal behaviours we do as humans which dogs might not particularly enjoy. For example we have two hands and two legs, whereas dogs are on all fours. Dogs might find it frustrating or annoying when someone grabs at them or tries to give them a hug especially if it is a stranger.
Another difference is that dog’s primary communicator is body language, whereas we tend to use our voice. Our dogs can be so sensitive to our body language. They know when we are frustrated or cross but they also are well tuned to know when we are sad or upset and we need our loved companion for support. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could learn to read your dog’s body language so you understand and know how they are feeling most of the time.
So, maybe the secret to living together is understanding and considering both species’ emotional needs and wants. Maybe the first question to ask is, what can you be negotiable on to meet in the middle? Or what are the must-have rules in the house?
For example, you might live with a more sensitive pet which expresses itself through barking. The world is just a little scarier for these guys and they feel they have to respond to any movement or sound. This is not a dog trying to be naughty but a dog that is more emotionally charged. Maybe we can consider their needs when problem solving this behavioural concern. We could put some management in place, give them a safety zone and improve their emotions around scarey things, while training some cue’s to redirect the unwanted behaviour.
So to answer the question above, for me being a behavioural trainer is not only training cue’s to be able to speak a common language with our dogs but also understanding and taking care of their emotional needs. I seek to be an advocate for our pets and to educate and guide owners so we can all live happily as one.
Written By Sonia Van De Kamp, Certificate IV Veterinary Nurse and Certificate IV DELTA Behaviour Dog Trainer