You are not alone!
Having a pet with behavior issues can be frustrating and embarrassing. It seems like everyone else has the perfect pet and that you must have done something terribly wrong. Not everyone wants to share the issues that they had to work through but I can guarantee you that you are not alone! For those clients that are willing to share, thank you! Hopefully your sharing helps give someone else the courage to help their pet too.
We can’t thank you enough for showing us how to understand our scared little rescue dog and effectively intervene to modify her behavior so she is now a positive, confident dog. As you know, when we first met you, we were despondent over whether we could ever get Bella to share the house with our daughter’s dog who was visiting, and to stop growling at folks who came to visit. She who formerly lunged and barked fiercely at other dogs, now walks placidly, waiting for the approaching dog to pass, which has totally transformed the appeal of giving her daily walks. And she is quickly learning that visitors don’t require her to protect us from them.
What we especially appreciate is the clear concise way you have explained animal behavior, so we feel equipped to deal with other issues using that knowledge and positive reinforcement. Plus, your positive, patient personality has made it a pleasure to work with you. We HIGHLY recommend you to other pet owners who are facing issues, or just want to better understand their pets and build a more positive relationship.
Ellen McCarthy and Rich Bradley
PS – please feel free to use this on your website or whatever. You are a miracle-worker! (in person, Maine)
We brought Rocky into our home and office as a puppy, and were blown away by how fast he learned. He was quick to potty train, loyal, and even learned a few tricks in those first few months home with us. As he got a little bit older, there were a few issues that came up, specifically regarding aggression/ being very possessive of certain toys or areas. With him being an office dog, we knew we needed to address these issues ASAP, but as first time dog owners, did not have the skills to efficiently modify his behavior on our own.
Royan’s willingness to work with us remotely and accommodate our crazy schedules really made the program doable and successful for us. Our dog Rocky is almost a year and a half old and comes to work with us every day. It was crucial that we nipped bad habits in the butt to ensure that our clients and employees could enjoy Rocky, without us worrying about his behavior. Royan was quick to get back to us whenever we had a question, and was very thorough in providing weekly assignments and checking in on our progress. This made it that much easier to make sure we really stuck to the routine and followed through with assignments. Seeing Rocky’s progress was so reassuring. He is a very smart dog and we feel so much more confident bringing him to work with us now that we have the tools and resources we need to adjust any behavior problems we have going forward. We are so thankful for Royan’s guidance and knowledge, and highly recommend reaching out to her if you have a pet with a behavior issue or just need a little help with handling your pet. (via email, Maine)
Our three cats had been together for six years. We have two female cats: one 12 years old, one 10, and a 6 year old male. The beginning of February we began to notice tufts of fur and broken cat claws. Soon the 3 cats began fighting daily.
With Royan's daily guidance for three weeks we learned how to redirect the cats' focus to acceptable behaviors. Even having different feline friends for over 40 years we have never had three in the house at one time. We learned a lot about territory and making them feel safe. There was a lot of observation of the interactions to know when the
focus needed to be redirected. At first, for a good two weeks we had to separate the male cat in another part of the house and let him out when we were at home so that they all could be supervised. In about two weeks time we could let him out all day and it took another two weeks where we gradually let him out earlier and earlier each morning.
After about two months they were getting along as they had before. Occasionally they may begin to go back to the previous fighting behavior but we can spot it and redirect the energy.
Royan has made it so that these cats can get along, have us keep all of them and enjoy each other's company again. I would highly recommend Royan for help in any pet issues that may arise. (via email, Maine)
Working with you has been a wonderful learning experience. Zoe's success is my success and I know I couldn't have achieved it on my own. You always responded in a timely way to any of my concerns and didn't make me feel stupid or wrong. I needed the behavioral knowledge and understanding that you provided as well as the support and encouragement that you always gave me along the way. It made me realize that I could train her through behavior modification techniques that just made sense once you explained the reasoning behind them and also reminded me of the need for consistency and commitment in order to succeed. I think I surprised myself each time I saw any positive changes in behavior. I am very proud of Zoe.
Thank you so much for giving me the tools I need to continue on the road to super success!!! Feel free to use anything I've said about my training experience. I won't hesitate to refer others to you just as a friend referred you to me. (via email, Maine)
Royan's guidance and recommendations, both in class and out were very helpful for our family. It's clear that she cares deeply for both her canine and human students.
We have a sweet, smart, young reactive dog. We learned many tools to help him to be the best dog he can. We learned how to work with him, through positive reinforcement, so that he is safe and secure and that everyone around him is as well. We learned how to teach him to be more comfortable and calmer in challenging situations, and how to determine what situations cause him to react.
Controlling his environment so that he can relax more helps to lessen his impulse to protect himself or us. We learned to gradually condition him to new environments or situations, where he is able. And we learned to protect him from agitating events.
Royan's message was clearly and thoroughly presented, she is always open to questions and takes whatever time or focus is needed. She has a wealth of knowledge about dealing with reactive dogs and is often able to come up with new approaches if needed.
Before we consulted with Royan, we were wondering if we could keep our dog with us. Now we feel that we can, and that we are all happier together! (in person, Maine)
Thank you, Royan, for helping us understand and work with our newly adopted rescue dog, Kasey. As veteran pet owners (all adopted) we brought Kasey home confident that we had all the tools we would need to help her become a member of our family. It didn't take us long to realize that the depth of her challenges - fearfulness and trust- would require more insight and understanding than we possessed at the moment. It's true that one can find a lot of information on how to work with fearful, shy, aggressive or dogs with other behavior issues, but they can not take into account the wide variety of variables at play for each specific dog. That's where you offer an invaluable service. Your expert knowledge of animal behavior, triggers that may lead to unwanted behaviors, and coaching us in real time on how to approach behaviors that Kasey presented, gave us the confidence and understanding on how best to work with her. Not only has your feedback been effective in making Kasey's transition into our family easier for both her and us, but it's made us more cognizant of the communication pathways required to foster a deep nurturing bond between animal and human. Thank you again for helping us onto the right path.
Heidi & Terry (via email, Maine)
Tara (probably known as Honey to you) has had quite a journey from Georgia all the way to Maine!
She wouldn't leave her kennel upon arriving to P.A.W.S and because we had shown interest in her prior we were asked to pick her up immediately as a special case. We took her home but as she wouldn't leave her kennel we had to lift her inside of it up three flights of stairs to our apartment! She was unused to apartment living and spent all her time pacing and just couldn't get comfortable. On top of that she wasn't potty trained and also very frightened of any street sounds (and even house sounds like a toaster). Any time she heard a motorbike she would stop in her tracks and wouldn't budge. We had her for a few days but were overwhelmed even though we have a dog of our own. Luckily the dog behaviorist that works with P.A.W.S named Royan took her on for a week to take a closer look at her. She came back to us much better and we also had the tools for potty training and how to normalize her new environment.
Even though at the start she wouldn't even come near us to be stroked we slowly built up trust with her. A quick movement when putting on the leash might set us back a week! Our other dog Elton was really our saving grace in the beginning. Tara (Honey) really looked to him for social cues and followed him on walks and started to under gain confidence. He is very laid back and mellow and we think that wore off on her. The best we could do was let her come to us on her own terms and just build a framework where she could succeed. Take her on four walks a day so she can do her business and knows to expect them, make her kennel a safe space just for her and give her constant love and patience.
It was hard in the beginning and we were unsure if we could adopt her living in town and decided to foster at first. But of course not long after we became a "failed foster"! She is such a beautiful being and we're so glad we kept her and persevered. Even though it's only been 6 months it's even hard to remember her being so terrified and nervous. She owns the streets of Gardiner, Maine now and her sassy side is coming out. Her tail wags and goes out as opposed to being permanently curled under her legs. She is a supreme snuggle bug and loves to get as close as possible to us, preferably with her nose dug under your clothes or blanket. Now that she has recall and knows her name we take her to the waterfront park by the river that is fenced on one side and is ideal for dogs. At first she had poor coordination and was scared of the water and leaves but now she is extremely fast and dexterous. Elton has taught her about looking for squirrels and eating grass and she has found her very own game - chasing waves (this makes Elton jealous of course). Also she's discovered digging holes and making water channels, slowly figuring out the science of irrigation.
It feels like the past month we've reached a level of irreversible trust and she looks to us for comfort. She still has a hard time with visiting the parents and getting in the car but we're working on that.
Thanks to all of you for your hard work! We can't imagine a life before Tara (Honey) now. (in person & via email, Maine)
Shortly after we had adopted our rescue dog, Noelle, someone suggested I get in touch with Royan, who was the animal behaviorist who had been working with some of the shelter animals. I was new to having a dog in the family, and assumed we'd figure out on our own what Noelle needed. (How hard could it be, right?) Two years later, I finally acknowledged that, yes, help was needed beyond the training I'd been doing with our pup. Noelle, we learned, was considered “reactive,” and much of her energy was going into barking, pulling, lunging and wearing me out!
I needed to be out of town for a week, so engaged Royan's assistance. Noelle stayed at Royan's house while I was away, and she received abundant love, trust, care, attention, and training from Royan and her husband, Neal. Noelle took to them immediately when we arrived for our pre-stay visit, and was delighted to settle in for her week of "private doggie vacation camp."
Royan is gentle, wise, steady, fun-loving and always positive and professional. Her quiet manner calmed Noelle as they worked together. Her intelligence about animals and their behavior revealed itself in practical and progressive ways. Aware that every dog is different, she tuned in specifically to Noelle's needs and was able to redirect her from problem behaviors to responsiveness to directions. While I was away, I loved receiving messages with updates about Noelle's progress, including some delightful (and sometime hilarious) videos, as well. It was a fine week, indeed.
It’s important to note that working with Royan is not a “quick fix.” Our dog has made tremendous progress, yet still continues to need me to work with her regularly. But now I have better knowledge and experience as a result of having engaged Royan’s help, and that alone makes a big difference in how I interact with Noelle. I am calmer, clearer-minded, and more capable in resolving whatever issues arise with our pup. When I get puzzled about something Noelle is doing (or not doing), Royan is gracious in helping me address things.
She offered some thoughtful suggestions regarding our home environment, too. For instance, our mailbox had been right on the front porch, and Royan wondered if perhaps that contributed to Noelle's crazy, non-stop, loud barking every time the mail carrier arrived. Sure enough, since I've moved the mailbox off the porch and arranged some plants to camouflage it, Noelle barely responds to the mail delivery! Such a simple solution from someone who "gets it."
I cannot say enough good things about Royan's work with our dog -- and with me. She is not judgmental if I've done something stupid; rather, she nurtures the good and encourages choices that benefit both our dog and the humans who love her. Her caring nature and good humor make it a joy to work with her, and I know that Noelle is grateful for Royan, as well.
I love the calm assurance I’ve gained and the skills our dog has developed since we began our working relationship with Royan. She is helping us keep our pet in the best ways possible. I would say to anyone who feels alone, frustrated, exhausted or even just curious about how to improve your relationship with your dog: call Royan — and do it right now! (in person & via email, Maine)
Royan is a gift to our dog and family every time we see her. She is gentle and clear with her expectations and makes our dog feel loved and successful. She meets our dog at her level and sets clear, stimulating, learning targets that build on one another! She is not only training our dog but also educating us as "dog parents". Royan is safe, reliable and organized in her plan of action! I highly recommend her services! (in person, Maine)
Hiring Royan became the difference between fully enjoying my fostered "grand dog" and being frustrated out of my mind not being able to work a full work day in my home office. Before Royan took him for five days in her home for training, Kaiser had what I would call "extreme attention seeking issues" and related impulse control difficulties. Kaiser is SO much happier now! He is relaxed, content and quiet instead of anxious and loud. And the best thing is, thanks to Royan sharing her exceptional dog whispering insight, I understand Kaiser well now and can therefore reach new levels of training on my own. Kaiser and I both have gained such confidence. Royan totally surpassed my expectations. She is simply fabulous! (in person & via email, Maine)
Royan was a huge help with our sweet and fearful German Shepherd Elsa, adopted from PAWS last fall. My husband and I wanted to learn to help Elsa feel more at ease, and to work with her in speciﬁc situations in which she appeared fearful. With Royan’s insight and coaching, we saw positive changes right away.
During our ﬁrst meeting, Royan listened to our concerns, then observed Elsa with us, giving feedback, then formulating a plan for us. During the second session, the three of us walked Elsa in an area where we encountered a few people and other dogs. Royan helped us recognize Elsa’s stress signals, as well as environmental stimuli which we hadn’t tuned in to, but which affected Elsa. She quickly responded to follow up questions, and provided helpful reference material, in addition to a comprehensive written plan.
Royan’s calm, gentle demeanor put Elsa and us at ease. Her instruction and feedback were insightful and tailored to our needs, concerns, and limited level of experience. Her encouragement as we worked with Elsa created a positive experience for all.
Royan’s expertise helped us become more attuned to Elsa’s needs. As Elsa’s trust in us has grows, she’s slowly becoming more conﬁdent and comfortable, and our bond continues to strengthen. We’re so grateful for Royan’s knowledge and deep commitment to improving the connection between pets and their people. (in person, Maine)
Royan helped us out 4 years ago when we got a new puppy and had issues with biting and potty training problems. We were getting close to the point where we didn't know what to do and even considered re-homing her. Thanks to Royan's help and advice, we got her on the right track, and today at 5 years old she is the BEST dog ever! It would have been a terrible mistake to give up on her, and we are so thankful we had someone giving us such great advice. (via email, Minnesota)