What to expect from a behaviour consultation

We understand that booking a behaviour consultation with one of the Clever Dog Company behavioural team requires an investment of both time, and money. For this reason, the better you are prepared, the more you will achieve and the faster you will see results with your dog or cat.

By meeting your family, discussing your pet’s daily routine and observing their behaviour, an assessment and treatment plan can be formulated, using force-free, kind and effective methods which will fit in with your life-style and achieve fast results.

In advance of the consultation

All pet behavioural problems are seen on referral from your veterinary surgeon. This is for two reasons. The first is that many behaviour problems are directly related to clinical conditions. These may be ‘hidden’ and the only symptom is that your pet is behaving differently. Often, we will work closely with your vet to give your pet the best possible ‘joined-up’ treatment. The other is that Sarah Whitehead and her team follow the best practice guidelines of the APBC – of which Sarah is proud to be a full member.

Once referred, we will usually see you and your pet in your own home to assess the problem, discuss your goals and formulate a retraining or behaviour modification programme. On-going support and help is regarded as an important part of the process for our dog and cat behaviour help.

What sort of problems can we help with?

Our team have a vast number of years of experience in dealing with every kind of behavioural problem in dogs and cats, including: aggression, destructiveness, toileting problems, marking, spraying, self mutilation, vocal behaviour, nervousness, car travel, chasing and general control issues (such as recall problems and jumping up). You name it, we’ve seen it!

Several members of the team have their own ‘specialities’, and so you may find it sensible to opt for a member of the behavioural team that is not necessarily geographically closest to you in order to make the most of their particular field of expertise. We can advise about this during a behaviour SOS call – which you can book here: Behaviour SOS


Costs vary greatly depending on the nature and severity of the behaviour issue, and your geographical location. However, we try hard to keep our fees affordable.

Please enquire separately about Sarah Whitehead’s fees for behaviour consultations, lectures and media.

Insurance claims

Please check with your own insurance provider if you will wish to make a claim for a behavioural consultation with one of our team. Although some policies do cover this, you may find that the excess exceeds the actual cost of the consultation, or that your policy has specific exclusions. We are unable to enter into discussions with your insurance company on your behalf, so please do check with them in advance and ask them to confirm in writing in advance of the consultation.

Realistic expectations

The treatment of behaviour problems is not like you see on the TV! It takes time to establish the possible causes of behavioural issues and develop treatment plans that are suitable for your individual circumstances. Best results are always achieved where we consider the long-term goals, as well as immediate interventions.

What happens at the time of consultation?

Consultations are held on an appointment basis, often in your own home. They normally last 90 minutes to 2 hours. If possible all family members involved should be present, and it’s very important that time is set aside to focus on your pet and the way in which he or she relates to the family. For this reason, we ask that you switch off the TV, phone and internet for the duration of the consultation!

A full history of the problem will be taken and your pet’s temperament assessed, after which we will discuss the motivation for the behaviour and help you devise a treatment programme that’s going to work for you as well as your pet.

What happens after the consultation?

Treatment programmes vary according to the nature and severity of the problem. Sometimes only one consultation is necessary, but most require a minimum of three sessions. Further advice and after-care can be provided via the telephone, email or support/training visits. A report summarising the behavioural programme will be sent to you and to your veterinary surgeon.

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