Why is the pricing so different for birds and cats/other mammals?

The difference in pricing has to do with the behavioral and communicative differences between birds and mammals. Cats communicate using vocalizations, eye contact, facial expressions and other body language. These behavioral cues make it much easier to see where things stand regarding the behavioral modification. For example, if you’re dealing with a cat who’s hidden from view,  the meow and it’s inflection can tell you quite a bit about the animals emotive state. With birds, we do not have most of these luxuries. They communicate quite clearly with vocalizations, but it is often difficult to ascribe particular emotional states to those calls. They do use eye contact to some extent, but in a slightly different way. A bird with closed eyes may be showing you it is comfortable in your presence, but a bird with wide open eyes may not necessarily be showing distrust. Birds use their body language in different ways as well, and aside from the position of their beak (open or closed) they really aren’t able to create facial expressions in the same way that mammals can, and therefore are more difficult to read until you are familiar with their mannerisms.

How long does behavior modification typically take?

There is no simple answer to this question, as it depends entirely upon the situation and the people and animals involved. Most of the time improvement can be seen within a month or two, with only 1-2 meetings a week for an hour or so at a time. I would recommend at least one meeting a week for consistency, and sessions between 1-3hrs (1-2 being typical, 3 for more extreme cases). I prefer to initially work exclusively with the animal, but as soon as progress is being made, I will ask the owner to become involved to facilitate the process and allow you to work with your pet when I’m not present and build the relationship between you and your pet. This will strengthen the behavior modification as it is more efficient to have the animal build several relationships simultaneously than for me to build a strong relationship with the animal, then give you both a crash course on how to trust and work with each other.

If there are other pets in the home this may facilitate or slow down the process – large scale changes in an animals’ behavior can cause fluctuations in the ‘pecking order’ of the household, and I will help to address any of those issues that arise to make the shift easier for all involved parties. In short, I will work as efficiently as I can in each situation, but as each situation is different and several variables may be involved, I cannot guarantee any service will be completed in a particular time frame.

Once you are involved with the process, the consistency with which you work with your pet and the time you commit also greatly affects the duration of our sessions and of my direct involvement. Once substantial progress is being with you in control, we can phase out sessions as we see fit.

What does a session entail?

A session will generally start with me receiving a quick update from the owner regarding the behaviors noted/progress made over the past week. I will also address questions/concerns at this time. If the owner is not home for the session, I may ask you to leave a brief note detailing this information. I will then begin work with the animal and continue until a break is required. A session will likely include several starts and stops, and this will depend entirely upon the behaviors we’re working on and the disposition and needs of the animal. Sessions may include training, play, and free time segments. During free time – which gives the animal time to break and do their own thing, I will be available to answer more questions and discuss the work being done with the owner. Again, sessions should last at least an hour with 1-2 being typical. Sessions lasting up to three hours may be scheduled in more extreme cases.

What do I need to do as an owner?

* I will ask you to keep some treats on hand for rewards.
* If possible or applicable, please keep claws/nails trimmed for safety purposes.
* Your animal should be healthy (does not include behavioral health problems, like feather plucking) and up to date on shots.
* You will also need to pay attention when asked to join in on sessions so that you may employ the behavioral methods and tools on your own to speed up the process and ensure that you’ll be able to work with your pet on other behavioral issues, should they arise in the future. Some people find it handy to keep a notebook or tape recorder on hand.

Why do you do this?

I love animals, and I love to see them happy. I’ve always been a bit of a healer – rescuing dragonflies from spider webs, trying to befriend anything that crossed my path, rescuing injured animals, working with non-rehabilitative raptors and mammals with the Audubon Society, training my pets at home, and rescuing the most socially messed up cats I could get my hands on in order to turn their lives around. I try to be as thorough as possible, and put a lot of energy into each animal. My goal is always to turn things around as quickly as possible, because they deserve it. My current field of research (bioacoustics) has taken me away from the hands on behavioral work I’ve always done, so this company started as a way for me to help animals outside of my own pets, appease my inner starving behaviorist, and convince my parents that the rest of me wasn’t going to starve either.