Training & Behavior Modification
At the Animal Behavior Wellness Center, we pride ourselves on having certified, experienced professionals available to help coach our families.
Animal training is far less about training the animal and more about training their people. Whether you had a dog, cat, bird, rat, or pig, we have to know how to get you where you want to be.
What Do We Do?
We always start with an assessment of your pet and your home. By knowing more about the environment in which the pet lives, we're better equipped to give advice that will work specifically for you. We do not provide "one size fits all" programs here. The dynamic between a pet, their family, and their environment is vast and complex.
When developing a learning program, the first thing we need to do is provide education. What is normal for the species you have? How can we provide outlets for those normal behaviors? Even the ones we might not necessarily like? By ensuring our pets are given proper enrichment and our homes are set up for success, we are far less likely to have behavior problems pop up and it will be easier for your pet to learn what you do want.
Next, we take your primary concerns and develop manageable training plans to help you reach your goals. Not sure what you want to work on? We can help with that too.
If you're looking for a structures program with a social component, check our our Group Classes and Workshops.
Before Your Appointment
Once you have scheduled your Training Assessment, you will recethere are several forms that need to be completed.
Behavior Questionnaire - This multi-page form will provide information about your pet's upbringing, current environment, social structure, and learning history.
Disclosure Form - This is a Virginia State required form providing you with our office hours. We are available by appointment only. If you have an emergency, please go to your closest veterinary emergency clinic.
Consent to Treat & Media Release - This form provides our team with permission to assess your pet and provide advice as well as additional releases for use of photographs, videos, or sending you newsletters if you so choose.
Due to the extensive nature of the Behavior Questionnaire, we do ask that all paperwork be back to our team 2 days before your appointment. Our team needs ample opportunity to review the history and begin developing the case. If paperwork is not back within 48 hours, your appointment is subject to cancellation and forfeit of your appointment deposit fee.
Finally, we request that your primary care veterinarian send us at least the last year of medical records. These should include full medical summaries, diagnostic results, and other pertinent information.
The Day of the Appointment
We like our patients to come in hungry. If you appointment is in the morning, please skip breakfast. If your appointment is in the afternoon, please give half of their breakfast. If you pet needs anti-anxiety medication to cope with vet visits or meeting strangers, please be sure to administer this 2 hours prior to your appointment time.
When you arrive for appointment, please do NOT enter the building. Call the number associated with that specific location, inform us that you have arrived, and what type of vehicle (model and color) you are driving. When we are ready, one of the staff will come out and escort you directly to the consultation room. Please stay clear of the front entrance. This rule applies for all appointments and all patients.
During the Appointment
The first appointment is 90 minutes long. Realize we may not get into a lot of actual training at this first session - but hear me out. Our first priority is to make sure you understand the way your pet thinks, why they behave the way they do, and set up strategies that will make it easier for your pet to make good decisions. If all that is already in place, we will absolutely move on to some training exercises. Not everyone is ready for that right away.
We may not develop the full training plan at this first session. Just like counseling in humans, coaching families will pets is a long term process. Sometimes breaking up topics into different sessions makes it easier to remember all the details and focus on specific exercises/homework without getting overwhelmed.
After the Appointment
Our team will develop written discharge instructions for all new assessments. These will include information pertinent not just to your particular case, but also generic information we consider necessary to the general well-being of our patients. These notes will be sent via email within 24 hours of the appointment.
Follow up is extremely important to the success of behavioral therapy. Each time you are seen, the individual you meet will provide an updated treatment plan and timeline as to when you should return, see a trainer, or enroll in additional courses.
Who will I be working with?
That's a great question and subject to your personal choices. Below are the three Behavior Modification Specialists we have on staff as well as some quick tips about them. There are links to their profile page if you would like to learn even more or you can go ahead and schedule.
Christine is not taking new patients at this time.
But wait! I only have a couple question!
We can help you with that too. If you don't think you need to go the full assessment route, you can also scheduling a quick phone call with one of our trainers.
"I think my concern isn't just training..."
No shame in that. If your pet is experiencing anxiety, aggression, panic, or other intense behavior problems, it might be best to schedule a consult with our veterinarians.
Still aren't sure?
NOTICE: Due to the COVID-19 social distancing protocols, the Fairfax campus is NOT seeing any in patient appointments at this time. All appointments are conducted via ZOOM or telephone (3/20/2020).