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with a certified behavior consultant

canine behaviorist

2024 Behavior Consulting Information

*For Separation Anxiety or separation related behavior problems, please click HERE.  The treatment of separation issues is structured differently than that of other behavior issues.

When guided by a Certified Behavior Consultant, problem behaviors can be greatly improved.  Over the years Valerie has worked numerous cases of aggression, fear, generalized anxiety, reactivity, sibling rivalry, resource guarding, separation related behaviors*, hyperarousal, countersurfing, mouthing, jumping up, excessive barking and complex potty training issues.

All training is done using Force-Free training methods.  This means that treats and a clicker are used, but not prong, shock, choke chain, or pinch collars. When you book your appointment, you can rest assured that you are working with a trainer who is a Certified Behavior Consultant (CBCC) and has multiple additional professional certifications. Valerie has over 10 years of experience and is trusted with referrals from many of our local veterinarians, including a certified Veterinary Behaviorist.  Not only do many local veterinarians recommend her services, they bring their own dogs to her for training and behavior consulting.

Behavior Consults are held at the facility (918B Harris St 22903) where training can be done in a controlled environment.  Even for issues related to on-leash reactivity, fear of strangers, or aggression to visitors at your home, it is always best to start leaning without distractions, build skills, then transfer those skills to a more distracting environment.  It is not necessary for your dog to perform the unwanted behavior during a training session. The goal is always to teach replacement behaviors, not to cause the unwanted behavior.  As your dog’s training progresses, scheduling lessons at alternate locations can be discussed.

The behavior modification plan is a systematic, customized, progression of training exercises based on the science of how dogs learn.  Prior to your initial consult, a detailed questionaire is submitted. Based on this information, the first session is then planned ahead of time, allowing us to work on training strategies the very first time we meet after our initial discussion time. Each follow up lesson starts with discussion and an update on how your dog is doing. During discussion time your dog is free to roam or play with toys. (safety measures are in place for dogs that are aggressive to people to allow your dog some freedom while ensuring my personal safety) After discussion time, training exercises previously taught are reviewed.  Behaviors might be practiced in the presence of triggers if appropriate. Next steps are taken if both handler and dog are ready for new material.  A homework email / lesson summary is sent at the conclusion of each session.  It is expected that the homework will be worked on between sessions.

It takes several sessions to start to see improvement in a dog's behavior.  Behavior problems don't develop overnight, and they are not resolved quickly.  Ability to make progress is influenced by factors such as: early socialization history, previous training histrory, genetics, dog's age, medical conditions, living environment, handler skills, and time spent practicing homework. 



  • For the best care for your dog, scheduling a small series of lessons is suggested.  You can decide how you wish to space those lessons out using the guidelines below.  

For moderate behavior problems and non-crises situations, schedule 4 sessions every other week (One Initial Consult and three Follow-Ups).  From there we might continue that schedule, switch to monthly meetings, look at group class options, or graduate your dog from Behavior Consulting Services. 


For severe behavior problems and crisis situations, schedule 4 sessions once a week (One Initial Consult and three Follow-Ups.  We would likely then switch to meeting every other week for several sessions.  Then we might continue on that schedule or switch to monthly sessions until we have achieved some stability in the behavior.  Once stabilized, your dog is ready to graduate from Behavior Consulting Services.

  • All appointments are held at the facility (918 B Harris St 22903), unless discussed ahead of time

  • Using the "Book an Appointment" button will bring you to a calendar of availability

  • It is not unusual for there to be a several week wait time. Booking your follow ups at the time of your initial consult ensures your lessons will be held consistently, which is best for your your dog's progress

  • Appointment times are spaced out far enough that you will not encounter another client and their dog in the parking lot. To assist with this, please do not arrive more than 5 minutes early for your appointment


Payment in full is due at time of booking

  • $225 / 1 hour Initial Consultation

  • $185 / 1 hour Follow-Up consultation


Cancellations, Rescheduling and Late Arrivals

  • With a week’s notice to reschedule, the payment can be transferred to a new date

  • With less than a week’s notice to reschedule, the payment is forfeited and a new payment is required to hold a new appointment

  • Lessons cannot be canceled/ refunded

  • If you are running late but still make it to the appointment, the lesson will conclude at the originally scheduled time.  The lesson will not be pro-rated

Your Dog’s History

  • There is a detailed intake form for you to complete once you click the "Book an Appointment" bar at the top of the page.  This provides a detailed history of your dog, the behavior problem and methods tried so far to correct it.  If the form is filled out with “---“or answers are left blank, time will be spent collecting this information in person at the first session.  To help save discussion time please fill out the form completely.

  • Requests for phone calls will be answered by a knowledgeable administrative assistant.

  • At the bottom of the intake form there is a liability release and contract, to be signed at the time of scheduling




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