Articles... explanations... FAQs... grab a cuppa and have a scroll..

(more to come)


FAQ. Why do I need a veterinary referral for a behaviour consultation??

October 2022

Behaviour and health are very closely linked and in a significant proportion of behaviour cases, especially where aggression is involved, an underlying medical condition was found to contribute to the behaviour. It makes a lot of sense, when you look at it from a human perspective. When we’re feeling under the weather, maybe suffering from a headache, upset stomach, or aches and pains in our joints, then chances are we aren’t in our best of moods. Though our discomfort might not be visible from the outside, an onlooker will nevertheless notice that we might be uncharacteristically reluctant to get up, want to be left alone, and might seem unpredictably irritable. We can explain ourselves, of course, but for our pets, we need the help of the vet to find out if they are feeling unwell. Trying to address a behaviour problem without first ruling out any contributing medical factors, risks undermining the success of any behaviour work. Besides, no-one wants their pet to suffer in silence. This is why behaviourists always work on veterinary referral, a stipulation of our professional code of conduct, to ensure we do the very best for the animals in our care.

FAQ. What is clicker-training?

June 2022

Clicker training involves observing a behaviour in your cat or dog, marking that behaviour, and then rewarding it with something your pet likes. The behaviours are often movements your animal offers voluntarily, like making eye contact with you, that we can build into trained behaviours e.g. "Look at Me". The marker is typically a ‘click’ from a clicker device. However, it doesn’t have to be. Clickers work well because they are unique and precise, consistent, and devoid of any emotional overtone. But if you prefer to keep your hands free, the mark can be a spoken word like ‘good’, or a click of the tongue.

Remember Pavlov’s dog? Animals learn by association. They also do what works. So, your trainee quickly learns that a click predicts a treat, and that their behaviour controls the clicks. With these two lessons, you are well on the way to a whole new world of communication between you and your pet, fostering a deep, positive bond. As well as being an excellent method of obedience training, it is also a valuable tool to build your pet's confidence. This is especially helpful for rehabilitating dogs who may be worried or may have lost their enthusiasm for life and learning.

How to read a paper - part 3

May 2022

The final of the 3-part series I wrote for Feline Focus, the ISFM's publication for vet nurses. This one is written for veterinary professionals and looks at putting research into practice. See the February and March posts for parts 1 and 2. (Click on the image to open the article.)

How to read a paper - part 2

March 2022

This is the 2nd in the 3-part series I wrote for Feline Focus, the ISFM's publication for vet nurses. For the first in the series, see the February post below. (Click on the image to open the article.)

How to read a paper - part 1

February 2022

This is my 1st article for Feline Focus, the ISFM's publication for vet nurses. This is the first in a 3-part series looking at 'How to read a paper'. If you're interested in reading academic research papers, but not sure how to navigate the literature or evaluate what you're reading, then this series is for you. (Click on the image to open the article.)