Students nearing graduation from Highland Canine’s 12-week Canine Training and Behavior Modification Professional Course participated in a Free Behavior Analysis Clinic hosted at Highland Canine’s facility in Harmony, NC on Saturday, 15 December. Clients from the local area brought their dogs to the clinic for a free behavior analysis conducted by the students under the supervision of Highland Canine’s Training Director, Jason Purgason.
Interest in the clinic grew rapidly, and every available slot was scheduled several days ahead of the event. Students prepared a list of questions designed to get to the root of any behavioral problems they might encounter during the clinic.
Clients presented dogs with many different challenges: Dominance Aggression, Possessive Aggression (Resource Guarding), and Separation Anxiety; while other dogs suffered from boredom, destructive tendencies, or an overabundance of energy in their current environment and lifestyle.
Understanding a dog’s specific needs is important for any owner. Most dogs thrive in a structured environment that provides appropriate mental and physical stimulation. Whether big or small, old or young, purebred or mixed breed, some dogs require a more active human companion while others are content with regular feedings and comfy place to sleep.
“It was interesting to see how an owner’s schedule or lifestyle could affect an otherwise healthy and trainable dog in an undesirable way,” one student observed. “It almost always came down to a communication problem. People send mixed signals to their dogs regularly without even realizing it. They wind up unintentionally reinforcing behaviors they don’t want, or inconsistently reinforcing the behaviors they do want, resulting in confusion for the dog.”
Before the clinic, another student said she was “really nervous to even think about looking at a dog and actually come up with a diagnosis.” Afterwards she stated, “I felt a little more confident… After a few dogs, I figured it out and realized I could do it.”
“I think that it helped build my confidence and I learned a lot listening to Jason talk to the clients and how he handled various delicate situations,” said another.
Most students reported a boost to their confidence. “Before the clinic, I felt like I was questioning whether I’d really learned enough in 12 weeks to accurately assess training and behavioral problems. Now I know I did. It made me realize that I can do this.”
Clients brought their dogs into the classroom where the students took turns asking questions to determine the underlying causes to the unwanted behaviors.
“It probably felt a little like an inquisition to the clients,” said a student about the clinic. “There were eight of us asking questions and observing the dogs, most of which were nervous in the unfamiliar environment. It was a tremendous learning opportunity.”
The student continued, “It was a great exercise in learning to listen and observe. There were several times we asked a question that the client had already provided the information for. But they were very patient, and answered all our questions. They were interested to know what the problem was so they could get it resolved.”
Clients left the clinic with a better understanding of their dogs’ behavior, and recommendations from Highland Canine for how to improve their situation.
Graduating students left with greater confidence in their abilities, and gratitude for the instructors at Highland Canine.
“I have the best support system I could ever ask for,” stated one student.