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Behaviour Articles

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"I would have no hesitation in recommending Alison. Her knowledge, people skills and communication with all aspects has been brilliant."

Fiona Louise Wall BMVS BSC MRCVS

"As you know I was rather sceptical of your training methods when we first sought your help. I now understand that if we had pursued a different course of a more confrontational type of training, there would have been a serious risk of her behaviour getting worse, not better!  Tilly has now turned away from being a nervous rescue dog, to becoming a delightful family pet. Mr and Mrs Bradshaw". 

“We have had excellent feedback from our clients regarding Alison’s advice and care for their pets.  Her advice is practical, transparent and tailored to the individual animals welfare and client’s needs”. Catherine Meakin, BVSc MRCVS, Silverton Vets.

A little bit about me

Testimonials

I first began looking for a dog behaviourist when I adopted my rescue dog. Having little previous knowledge, I chose Ali because of her extensive qualifications and professional website and I have not been disappointed.

Hansel had been a street dog in Greece up until the age of approximately 9 months and was consequently very nervous particularly of people and certain situations. Ali helped me to anticipate and interpret his behaviour and provided strategies to help to reduce his anxiety. Ali always uses positive reinforcement and was always gentle and kind, which for a nervous dog like mine was essential. 

One year on we now have a much more well balanced affectionate member of the family who we understand and who understands us. Using Ali’s methods Hansel's confidence is growing all the time and the scared dog who would once bolt at the sight of a high viz jacket or a group of people on bikes can now tolerate such things and watch with interest until they have passed rather than with abject fear.  We know we still have some things to work on but with Ali's help, we now feel we can achieve it. Thank you Ali for everything you have done for us.

Mr and Mrs Jenkins and Hansel.  

My husband and I adopted Texas, a German Shepherd cross in Aug  2016 and  we knew she was a nervous dog, but didn’t understand the full extent of her issues. 

After a few weeks it became apparent that 30kgs of dog barking at every other dog in the world (even across a field) was not a manageable situation! I was initially anxious about having a behavioural consultation, but Ali soon put me at ease and gave us some easy strategies to start our journey (as well as a report to explain what she should be doing). 

 

After some time we were having 1-2-1 and group sessions, implementing methods to build Tex’s confidence to show her that everything needn’t be scary. During the sessions Ali would take the time to explain and show us Tex’s behaviour and body language so we could learn to read her feelings, which I found invaluable.

 

Ali’s approach to teaching both the humans and the dog allowed us all to improve, and build confidence and her open door policy for support has been vital in helping and keeping me motivated when sometimes it felt like there was no end in sight. 

 

Owning a reactive dog has certainly been eye opening, two years ago I had no idea what it even meant, but it has made us much better dog owners, and with Ali’s help we’ve build an amazingly strong bond with our once frightened and anxious dog. We haven’t solved all the problems, but I’m positive we will get there and even though at the beginning I never thought we’d achieve it, Tex now has doggy friends to play with!

I cannot express how grateful I am to Ali – her professionalism, friendly manner, and support have allowed us to get where we are today.

 

Miss Burt and Mr Broadhead with Texas.
 

As you know, I was rather skeptical of your methods when we first sought your help with Tilly, because I couldn’t understand how overcoming antisocial behaviour in dogs could be achieved just by positive/reward-based training. It seemed contrary to how dogs discipline each other and behave in a pack and also contrary to what I thought were the methods traditionally used by farmers and others to train their dogs. Progress was slow to start with, which added to the anxiety. Rather against my instincts my wife and I have persevered with following your advice, and I have also been influenced by my daughter, Caroline, who added her expertise as a vet to back you up.

It is pretty obvious that what we have done (and we have worked very hard to follow your recommendations) has been successful – you can see for yourself that Tilly is making huge progress. She has turned away from being a nervous and very antisocial rescue dog and is becoming a delightful family pet. 

I now understand that if we had pursued a different course of a more aggressive or confrontational type of training, there would have been a serious risk of her behaviour getting worse, not better. So, a big thank you to you, and a firm recommendation from me!  Well done!

 

Mr and Mrs Bradshaw with Tilly  

 

Mimi is a cat with a beautiful nature - loving, gentle, sociable and perfectly suited to a young family. As experienced cat owners we didn’t think twice about settling her into the household as a kitten and following the same toilet training regime as with our previous cats.

Mimi had a few accidents on the bed and sofa as a small kitten which led to a learned preference for toileting on soft furnishings - a habit that once learned is hard to break and even once she was older with access to the outdoors we couldn’t understand why she chose the sofa over the garden or litter tray.

 

Ali was recommended by our vet who confirmed we’d tried everything else and sure enough, within a short time in our house, Ali had identified the problem with toileting in the garden in the form of an aggressive neighbours’ cat who had traumatised Mimi to the point she didn’t feel safe enough to out.  Ali then helped us to devise a programme to stop us forcing her outside and gently change her preference from the sofa to litter tray inside.

Always rapidly on the end of email, Ali helped us realise what we couldn’t see ourselves and within three months Mimi is happily using the garden rather than the house.

Huge credit to Ali - we were considering re-homing Mimi and couldn’t have hoped for a better result.

Mr and Mrs Moreton with Mimi. 

Ali was recommended by another behaviourist, as we had big problems with our border terriers. The oldest one Bill had become very reactive to other dogs after an extended stay at the vets. The younger one Stan had been badly attacked on the lead in the park so was a snarling, snapping ball of angst. Put them together and it was violent reactivity. We had tried to take on suggestions from dog trainers and it was getting worse. I had spent hours trawling the internet finding different ideas but again wondering if we were making it worse. 

Ali was totally amazing and advised us on how to read certain situations and our dogs. Her philosophy is simple but the complexity comes from reading the dogs behaviour and knowing how to respond. I have been seeing Ali periodically throughout the past year and they have gone from snarling, reactive, over - aroused anxious pups to being able to walk through a dog filled area looking at other dogs without reacting. 

Ali has truly saved our boys and to see them so much calmer and happier with an air of ' oh there's a dog... so what...' makes me so happy. Thank you for everything.

 

Billy and Stan Cook.  

"Hi, I'm Rowley, a 10-year-old Cairn Terrier, and I was really frightened about going to the groomers - I hated going, got very distressed, and even though the vet gave me diazepam to try to make me more relaxed, it didn't work. 

My people got in touch with Ali Scott, who came to visit us, and explained some things to my people that they hadn't really understood, and that has made a huge difference! Ali showed them how to play 'The Bucket Game' with me, and now they are able to do all my grooming and clipping for me, so no more frightening trips to the groomers! 

Thank you very much Ali!"

Rowley Absolon

We rescued Alfie & Charlie our 2 black cats 12 years ago.  Alfie has always been a very confident cat and acts more like a dog than a cat. They had lived together relatively happily until 9 months ago when we rescued another black cat Toby, Toby is a much younger playful character.  Charlie our girl took an instant dislike to him and refused to come out from under the bed.  Alfie although accepting of Toby was acting in an odd way and we were having to break up fights between the cats.  Our Vet recommnded Ali and she visited us at our home.  Ali was so personable and really easy to get on with and it was so amazing to have someone with a different perspective come in and see things through a fresh pair of eyes.


A few weeks on and all 3 cats are much happier, Charlie is no longer hiding and comes out to play, Alfie no longer blocks or attacks Toby, and Toby is very happy, we still have some work to do and are continuing to put into practice all the advice that Ali has given us.  I would recommend that anyone who is having pet behaviour problems to contact Ali, we cannot thank her enough for all her help and advice.

Mr and Mrs McMillan with Alfie, Charlie and Toby.

Let’s start by introducing Busby, he is my collie x rescue dog and the love of my life.   He had a bad start in life, picked up as a stray, rehomed twice and then ended up back in the dogs’ home for 6 months before he came to live with me.  Sadly it wasn’t long before his issues then started to show and we were referred on by our veterinary surgeon.  

 

We have had a lot of valuable advice from Ali, with much needed knowledge and support. Thanks to Ali we learned to “speak” dog and understand Busby which was so much more productive than him trying to understand us!  I now have a happy Busby but we are still moving forward day by day using the knowledge we have learnt.  It's a life long commitment but a joyous one especially when you reap the rewards of your hard work.  I felt I owed it to Busby to give him a chance at life! Ali will help you help your dog, so grab it with both hands, listen and work with it, your dog will thank you for it in ways you would never dream possible.

 

Miss Bellis with Busby.

We rescued Max, a black Labrador cross aged about six months old. We already had two wonderful border collies Jacob & Lois, each from working farms aged 8 weeks when we bought them. Soon after we brought Max home we realised that we had made a huge mistake! He was extremely unruly - much more than just usual puppy behaviour, and Jacob and Lois were very unhappy and would not interact with him at all. In fact the tension between Jacob and Max was very worrying. After a few weeks, when I realised things were getting worse and we were all getting to the end of our tether I contacted Ali, who was recommended by our vet. 

Ali was fantastic! She offered so much insight and advice for all of the dogs together along with lots of intensive work one on one. I thought I knew lots when it came to dogs, yet despite having dogs all my life  - I soon realised that I didn't! Within minutes Ali had Max sitting when we entered the room and lying down at our feet instead of climbing all over us - basic things that Jacob and Lois managed from a really early age.

 

Using the same techniques that Ali used when she came to see us we have been able to teach Max lots of self control. We also dramatically changed our routine to remove the triggers that were leading to spats and bad behaviour. Within days things had improved so much, and continue to do so. Ali stays in regular contact and offers lots of advice and further guidance over the phone and by email. She also recommended a pain management review for Jacob and I'm pleased to say that things are so much better now. Jacob, Lois, and Max play and interact together!

 

Despite my years of experience I think a session with Ali should be compulsory before and after expanding your family with dog! I have recommended her to everyone I know with a dog!! All of us especially Max will be forever grateful - she saved him and us!!

Mr and Mrs Nicholson with Max, Jacob and Lois.

I adopted a 10 year old Cirneco dell’etna; Bella, a breed of Pharaoh Hound from Italy.   Bella was the companion of a very dear friend who died unexpectedly.   However, I was soon to discover Bella came with a lot of issues – some life long and others due to her sudden bereavement and being re-homed.

 

The most serious was that she bit both me and anyone else who came to close to her and the other was that she seemed to not have been fully toilet trained and used my home as her loo.   Alongside of this she was terrified of weather – rain, wind, as well as thunder.   We guessed that she associated thunder with bad weather.   She had an uncanny capacity to predict rain and would spend hours pacing with the risk of urinating uncontrollably.

 

In desperation I managed to find Ali who came to the house and spent the morning observing Bella and the family’s interactions with her.   Ali devised a programme and with regular phone calls, a year later Bella no longer bites, uses the house as her loo or is fearful of rain.   There is more work to do with her fear of fireworks and thunder but this is now manageable.  A year on she is now very settled, has learned lots of tricks, and is very playful when friends come to the house.   I cannot thank Ali enough for the programme she devised and her support in rehabilitating Bella.   We would not be where we are today with a really settled and happy dog!

 

Mrs Beresford with Bella.