Your Behavior Consultation with Good Human Dog Training

Jan 16 / Jennifer Thornburg, CDBC
Empty space, drag to resize
Good Human Dog Training offers private behavior consultations for those seeking help with their dog's behavior concerns.

Common concerns addressed include

  • fearfulness and/or aggression to people
  • aggressive behavior on walks.
  • fears and anxieties 
  • destructive behaviors 
  • excessive barking
  • introducing a new pet or family member
  • guarding resources from humans or dogs
  • handling concerns at home and the vet
 For help with dogs experiencing separation-related behaviors, please see our resources page.
If you are considering setting up a behavior consultation with Good Human Dog Training or already have a consultation scheduled, this post will help you prepare so that we can maximize our time together.

Consultations are generally 90 minutes in length and take place at your home, at a neutral location of your choice, or virtually via Zoom. 


Initial Recommendations

When you schedule your appointment, I will review your dog's behavioral history from your profile. I may call you for clarification and make recommendations based on our conversation.
  •  We may determine that a virtual consultation is less stressful for your dog and a safer option for your behavior consultant.
  • If your dog has shown aggression to humans, I will likely ask you to purchase a muzzle and send instructions to condition your dog to be comfortable wearing the muzzle in preparation for our in-person consultation.
  • Please avoid exposing your dog to their triggers in ways they cannot yet handle. Our goal is to keep them feeling safe and to stop the rehearsal of maladaptive stress patterns. 
  • In some cases, it makes sense to refer you to your veterinarian before our appointment. Our behavior change plans often involve the support of your veterinary team.

Virtual Consultations

If a virtual consultation is a better choice for your dog or situation, we can easily convert your appointment to that. You only need a computer, iPad, or cell phone with a web camera! 
Virtual Behavior Consulting is the same price as in-person appointments. 

Get a Behavior Journal

Why? Because a behavior journal is an extremely useful tool in determining more subtle patterns in your dog’s behavior that you may have otherwise missed, see improvement when it’s slow going and find successes to celebrate. 

A behavior journal isn't required for the consultation but I will ask you to start documenting information about your dog going forward.

Some of the things you will write in your journal are

  • details of any incidents that have occurred or continue to occur 
  • what you think may have caused the behaviors to occur
  • what happens before and after the behavior, if you can determine it 
  • additions of enrichment, exercise or training
  • changes in food or feeding schedule 
  • changes in usual routines (dog or human)
  • what you love about your dog  
  • tiny wins (big wins too!)

Treats and Rewards

We will use food treats during the appointment because food is easy, effective and efficient when training new behaviors or dealing with behavior problems. It’s important to have the treats your dog is motivated to work for.

Have a variety of pea-sized treats such as crunchy kibble and some high value treats such as meat or cheese.

Even if you've listed your dog's food allergies or restrictions in your behavior profile, it's a good idea to let Jennifer know in advance. 

  2 hours prior

Do not feed your dog a full meal within 2 hours.
Your dog shouldn't be hungry but a little peckish is helpful. 

  30 minutes prior

Give your dog a little walk to get some sniffs and blow off some steam.
Make sure they have eliminated and will be comfortable for the duration of our appointment.

  10 minutes prior

Please secure your dog in a crate, behind gates, in a back room, or outside in the yard. You can provide a special chewy or a stuffed frozen Kong toy to help keep your dog occupied. This prevents your dog from practicing behaviors we might be trying to fix from the very start.  
Empty space, drag to resize

Don’t you need to see the behavior to change it?

Please don't traumatize your behavior consultant or your dog!

It is commonly thought that a behavior consultant must observe the dog engaging in unwanted behavior to effectively change it. But, that isn't the case! Often the behaviors are based in fear and anxiety and we do not want to trigger your dog to growl or bite or lunge. If you tell me your dog has bitten someone, I'll believe it! 

If there is a specific behavior that you would like for me to see, you may be able to capture that behavior on video prior to our consultation. Never intentionally create a situation that could be stressful or physically dangerous to capture a video. In most cases, your description of the behavior will be adequate. The most important behaviors to capture on video are the very subtle communications that occur on a daily basis.

I will never risk your dog’s sense of safety by setting up a situation where they might be afraid or stressed. 
Empty space, drag to resize
Please be sure your dog is secured until we have completed the behavior history and have a plan for introducing them. 
Even if your dog has never so much as bitten a flea.
Empty space, drag to resize
Dog bite incidents are required to be reported to the local authorities.
Empty space, drag to resize


Methods and Philosophy

My approach to positive dog training is evidence-based and rooted in applied behavioral science. I use and promote Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) training and behavior work with my clients.

The science and data in the veterinary behavior world is very clear that using corrections in training increases these problem behaviors, and we align our training with the best practices in veterinary behavior medicine.

We'll begin with a thorough history of the behavior

During the consultation, we will discuss the concerns described in your behavior profile. 
I will ask for clarification on some of your responses. These details are really important to ensure I get the best picture of the problem behavior and the circumstances surrounding it.

Some of the questions we will discuss

  • Describe the behaviors your dog is displaying using verbs.
  • Dog details: age, neuter status, where acquired, etc.?
  • When was your dog's last veterinary exam?
  • Are you aware of any health concerns?
  • Has your dog broken skin with their teeth? If yes, what are the details of each event? 
  • Can you identify specific triggers cause or worsen the behavior?
  • How have you tried to change the behavior?
  • When did the behaviors begin or worsen?
  • What happens right before and right after the behavior?
  • Household details: residents, children ages, other animals, etc?
  • Can you tell me about your dog's daily routine?
  • Describe your dog's daily exercise and enrichment.
  • What are your goals regarding resolving the behavior? 

Introducing the star of the show!

I'll ask you to bring in your dog following the safety measures we have discussed.

For any dog with a history of aggressive behaviors, using protected contact is the safest way to perform introductions without the risk of being bitten, or creating a bite history for your dog.
Protected contact should include 2 layers of safety such as a secure harness/leash and a muzzle.

Regardless of your dog's behavior history, please keep them securely leashed.
And hold on to that leash!

I will observe your dog interacting with you from the distance they can comfortably handle. I will identify your dog's body language as it comes up and talk about the context for these signals.

Video is incredibly helpful for seeing behaviors we may have missed and tracking progress. If you don't mind, I will video your dog just being a dog. 

People Training for Dogs

You're dog can stick around for this, if everyone is comfortable! 

We'll work together to set realistic expectations, assess risks and liability and create a framework for managing your dog's behavior so it is no longer being practiced. Some clients find that effective management strategies are all they need. 
Depending on your goals and what is realistic for you and your dog at this time, we may begin talking about a behavior modification plan and its implementation. 

Your dog's behavior, for better or worse, is a result of their emotional conditioned responses to the things in their environment. True behavior change can only happen by changing how your dog feels about those people, places, things, Aunt Betty's Maltipoo, the kids racing their scooters down the street, being left alone, the Amazon delivery driver, etc.
True behavior change takes time and consistency. 

Regardless of how far you would like to go down the road to behavior change, you will be supported with a positive, humane approach that works for all members of the family. 

Behavior Consulting ≠ Dog Training

You may be surprised to find that we're doing a lot of talking and not much training!

Behavior problem solving is much different than manners or obedience. 
Behaviors that are undesirable often stem from fear, anxiety, are deeply rooted by reinforcement histories, by past trauma, genetic predisposition, or past experiences in our dogs. Sit/down/stay won't change your dog's underlying emotional response. 

In most cases, we will have time for me to demonstrate a foundation training skill or technique that may provide scaffolding for the behavior modification method we are using. I will coach you on t
he mechanics of the training so you can do it on your own.

Extreme Cases

For safety and liability reasons, I will not provide behavior modification services for the following bite cases until you have worked with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. 

  • level 4 or higher on Dunbar’s dog-human bite scale.
  • a lengthy bite history, 3 or more incidents of breaking skin
  • the dog has killed another animal
  • a lawsuit or hearing is pending
  • multiple, complex issues are present
Responsibly managing an aggressive dog means being honest with yourself about the potential risks to your community. We can schedule a virtual consultation to discuss management strategies, the consequences of management failure, quality of life and welfare considerations, expectations and potential outcomes. I will always approach these often difficult conversations with with empathy, and compassion. 


Your behavior change plan is on the way!

A couple of days after the consultation, you will receive a full report detailing the behavior change plan we agreed on.
  • An overview of how dogs learn, and a look at why your dog continues to do this behavior. 
  • A review of dog body language to help you understand how your dog exhibits stress.
  • Management strategies to help your dog be successful every day.
  • Resources on ways to allow your dog to decompress away from their triggers.
  • A behavior modification plan individualized to your dog and environment.
  • Links to relevant videos and other resources to support your learning
If you are working with your veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist, we can send them a copy of this report.

After the initial appointment, you have 30 days of email follow-up to address this specific behavior concern and adjust the behavior plan as needed. Please use this benefit!

How many appointments are needed?

It depends!

There are a lot of variables that go into behavior change such as the dog's age, the age of onset, the severity of the behavior, the number of behavior issues, how long the behavior has gone on and the client's goals all impact the amount of time and work needed to see success.

For most behavioral issues, Jennifer will see clients and their dogs 1-4 appointments after the initial behavior consultation. Private sessions are conducted in-person at your home or mutually agreed upon location, or via Zoom, depending on your location and goals.

You can choose a customized package which will be discussed at your initial behavior consultation. You can also pay for appointments, à la cart.

Working Together

I look forward to partnering with you to create a customized plan to meet your dog's unique behavioral needs, so you and your dog can live a happier life together.
Empty space, drag to resize
Jennifer Thornburg is the owner of Good Human Dog Training & Behavior. She provides comprehensive in-home and virtual behavior consultations and positive reinforcement dog training services in the Winston-Salem area of NC. 

Jennifer has several professional certifications which include IAABC - CDBC (Certified Dog Behavior Consultant) and KPA CTP (Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner.)
Empty space, drag to resize
Created with