Private Behavior Consultations

Header image for private behavior consultations.

ForceFreePets offers private behavior consultations via ZOOM or at Green Acres Kennel Shop for clients with dogs struggling with non-training issues such as; fear, timidity, separation anxiety, destructive behavior, aggression, and hyperactive behavior such as frenetic jumping. These behavioral issues are typically stress-related emotional responses, usually fear or anger that will rarely be resolved by teaching a dog things like sit, stay, or leave it. The use of aversive training tools and methods ( shock collars, prong collars, choke collars, alpha rolls, being dominant, and more) typically make these behaviors worse and hence must NEVER be used.

All of our behavior modification protocols are reward-based. We do not use or recommend shock, prong, choke collars, or other aversives as they have been proven less effective than rewards and detrimental to a dog’s basic welfare. They often cause aggression. Science has proven
aversive tools and methods are unnecessary. Human compassion and ethics tell us that using pain, force, and fear to train another sentient being is inhumane and abusive. You can read our ethical policies here.

Reactivity is an emotional response coming from anger or fear. It happens when a dog is under severe stress. An emotional response cannot be “trained” away. Or, put another way, teaching your dog to reliable “sit,” “down,” “recall,” or “leave it” behaviors will not change the way your
dog feels. Aggression problems seldom resolve independently or with “quick-fix” advice you find online.

The most important things you can do to help your dog are; to be kind, be patient, and keep them out of environments where they are uncomfortable. For example, if your dog rushes to the door and barks excessively, encourage people to call you ahead of their visit so you can locate your dog in another room where they will feel more secure. Likewise, if they react to people or other animals on walks, change the places you walk and the time of day to minimize these reactions.

Successfully resolving emotional behavioral issues involves several steps:

1. Have your veterinarian rule out any potential medical factors contributing to the behavior. For example, pain and any type of physical discomfort can cause behavioral changes in pets. In addition, disorders of the nervous, endocrine, reproductive, and gastrointestinal systems can affect your pet’s behavior. Also, have your vet test for tick-borne diseases such as; Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Ehrlichiosis,
Powassan Encephalitis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can cause changes in behavior, including; anorexia, anxiety, confusion, depression, fatigue, malaise, and other subtle mental disorders. If your veterinarian is not trained in behavior, most are not; look for the closest veterinary behaviorist.
2. Manage Your Dog and Their Environment to Prevent Undesired Behavior. Preventing your dog from having opportunities to be aggressive is essential to ending the behavior. It may be inconvenient for you, but it is critical to keep everyone safe. In other words, if your pet reacts aggressively towards people entering your home, have the pet confined in another room before answering the door. Likewise, if your pet is reactive to other pets, keep them away from other pets. Preventing the behavior is essential for two reasons; 1) safety – we do not want any person or any pet, including yours, to get injured, and 2) every time your pet exhibits undesirable behavior, it becomes more likely to happen again, making it harder to change.
3. Contact me, Don Hanson, at or another credentialed canine behavior consultant. If you email me, I will respond with a short initial questionnaire you can complete online. We’ll then select a mutually agreeable time to discuss your dog and a time to meet. I do not do in-home visits. I may also send links to articles and videos I will ask you to explore beforehand. The initial consultation may be in-person or via ZOOM. Ten minutes are allocated for me to review the data you submit when you book your appointment. Please be thorough but concise. Thirty minutes are set aside for our discussion. The remaining 20 minutes are allocated for my preparation of a brief report I will prepare and email you after the consult. The cost is $150.

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