Originally posted in April 2011
Imagine for a moment that you were commissioning an architect to build you a house. You want a very special house; one that will allow you to do some very special things. Imagine for a moment all the things that YOU want for your house. In my house, I would like a big woodstove, and a kitchen with great counter space, and new appliances, and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool within a greenhouse with big sliding windows so that in the summer we could have the air flow through but in the winter we could take advantage of passive solar. I want a VERY fancy house.
Now, given what I want in my house, it is going to need electricity. Imagine for a moment, that my architect, who has come highly recommended by all my friends, who has built lovely houses before, has decided that he will not work with electricians. Or electrical engineers. Or anyone in the electrical industry. And he won’t read the legal code that electricians must adhere to when they do their work. He has his own ideas about electricity and in his architectural drawings, he is going to lay out the electrical system HE wants, regardless of what might be accepted in the industry. Now, granted he has added some improvements to the way things normally work, but in other buildings that he has been involved with, there have always been hang ups during construction while the building inspector goes through and makes all the changes to what this architect has indicated on the drawings-because the architect, while he may think his methods are better, is actually doing something that a lot of dog behaviour consultants, veterinarians and trainers do that we ought not do. He is practicing outside of his area of competence.
Architects need to know some things about electricity, electrical set ups, and the electrical code. Architects have to follow guidelines when making building plans. But architects are not electricians. And here is a piece of news. I am a dog behaviour consultant. In fact, I am a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant. I did not go to school to become a veterinarian. Or even a vet tech. I know enough about dog health to tell you when you need to go to the vet, and I know enough about dog biology and health to be able to carry on a very informed discussion with a veterinarian about a dog in our care. Here is the thing: I need an invite from the client to do so.
If I hired an architect to build a house for me, I would insist that the various professionals that I hired were able to work together. The architect needs to be able to work with the engineers, the contractors, my lawyer, and my accountant. The other professionals need to be able to work together too. The day of the one stop jack of all trades professional is gone. The same is true of the people who help you with your dog’s behaviour; they need to get along in the sandbox with your vet, your daycare, you dog walker, your groomer and your breeder. We don’t need to go out for dinner together, but we DO need to find a way to work with one another, recognizing one another’s strengths and specialties and consulting one another opening. Your vet did not study behaviour in school and likely has not trained as many dogs as I have. Your daycare is unlikely to have given very many dogs haircuts and your groomer should not be drawing blood and doing bloodwork on your dog. We each know something about the work that the other does, and we can each contribute something to your dog’s wellbeing in the other places that your dog is going, but we each have a specialty and we need to respect one another’s specializations.
So when you are working with a professional for the improvement of your dog’s quality of life, put the professionals you use in touch with one another. And beware that those who are not playing nice in the sandbox with one another may not be able to help you in every way possible. The best outcomes for dogs happen when we are all on the same team.