What animals do you work with?
Mostly dogs and cats. Dr. Estep also works with birds, ferrets,
rabbits, pigs and horses. (top)
Do you guarantee results?
No, this would be unethical. Animals are living creatures, not
inanimate machines. No one can ever completely understand, predict,
or control their behavior. Neither can human counselors guarantee
that relationships can be saved or families can overcome their problems.
However, we will work with you to the best of our ability to help
you change your pet's behavior. Because you work with your pet,
results also depend on you. (top)
What's your success rate?
This is a complicated question. Generally, our clients report that
their pets’ behaviors are definitely improved after working
with us. But, people define 'success' differently. Realistically,
success means the behavior rarely happens, you can manage it better
when it does, and you better understand the reasons for your pet’s
behavior. Because you - the pet owner - will be the one who works
with your pet, success also depends on you. (top)
How long before I see improvement?
This varies a great deal. You may see behavior changes in just
a few days, or it may take several weeks. Some problems can be resolved
quickly, others may require months. Improvement can be ongoing for
months after our first consultation. (top)
How much work will this
Again, this depends on the problem. For example cat elimination
problems don't require consistent time training your cat, but will
require you to take the time to make the environmental changes we
suggest, and to alter your routine to better manage the cat's environment.
Dog aggression problems may require you to set up 'practice sessions',
which we will describe to you, 3-5 times per week. (top)
Will you take my pet and
train him for me?
No. Your pet’s surroundings and lifestyle, your relationship
with him, and your pet’s individual experiences and characteristics
have all worked together to create a problem. We believe it is vitally
important for you to work with your pet where he lives, and in the
places where the behavior happens. Taking your pet to someone else
for training doesn’t allow changes in your relationship and
in your pet’s environment to be part of the solution. For
this reason, we do not recommend “board and train” programs.
Can I change my pet’s
behavior even if he's older?
Yes. Age is not an important factor in determining success. Sometimes,
how long the behavior problem has been going on is a factor, but
not always. (top)
How many times will I need
to see you?
It works quite well to do follow-up by telephone after our initial
consultation. Our telephone follow-ups are available to you for
three months. We’ll describe the details of how followups
work during our initial consultation. It is your responsibility
to call us for follow-ups. Follow-up past three months is available
for an additional fee. (top)
Should I see my veterinarian
before I see you?
If your pet’s behavior has changed, it’s always a good
idea to see if there is a medical cause. Medical conditions can
affect your pet’s behavior even when he’s not acting
"sick". A veterinary visit is especially important for
housesoiling, aggression, compulsive behavior (e.g. tail-chasing)
or self-destructive behavior (e.g. hair-pulling) before considering
behavioral consulting. Almost all of our clients come to us through
veterinary referral. We have both yours and your pet's best interest
in mind when we recommend making sure your pet is healthy before
consulting with us. (top)
is behavior consulting different from dog obedience training?
Teaching your dog to sit, down and stay does NOT resolve behavior
problems such as separation anxiety, aggression, barking or housesoiling.
If your dog can follow these commands, this may be one useful part
of our behavior modification plan, but not enough by itself to resolve
the problem. If we think your dog can benefit from training, we’ll
refer you to a trainer we trust, or tell you what to look for in
a good trainer. (See our handout on "Selecting
an Obedience Trainer"). Or go to The
Association of Pet Dog Trainers website to find a certified
pet dog trainer. (top)