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General questions

How can Second Nature Behaviour help me?

In the treatment of pet behaviour problems, it takes time to establish cause and develop treatment plans that are suitable to different owner’s circumstances. We are experienced and well-qualified pet behaviour counsellors, who, on referral from veterinary surgeons, are able to offer the time and expertise necessary to achieve these objectives at an affordable cost.

What sort of problems can Second Nature Behaviour help me with?

The range of behaviour problems exhibited in dogs, cats and parrots is varied. It includes aggression, destructiveness, toileting problems, marking, spraying, self-mutilation, vocal behaviour, nervousness, car travel, livestock chasing and general control. We can offer help with these, as well as other behaviour problems exhibited in smaller companion animals and birds.   Our table of services can be downloaded here.

If you are seeking general training (e.g. to perform tricks on cue) or socialisation for your pet, then we recommend seeking an ABTC registered Animal Training Instructor.

Do you offer expert witness, school animal, or child fostering/adoption assessment services?

Unfortunately, we do not currently offer these services.  However, we very much recommend looking at the ABTC Expert Witness Register, CCAB Register, or look for another local FAB Clinicians member.

How do I book an appointment?

Contact us for a no obligations chat. After you have been referred by your veterinary surgeon, you can phone us on 0121 299 0188 to discuss the details and costs, or book online here. You can access the referral form here, or your vet can make the referral online here.

Why should I choose Second Nature Behaviour?

Currently, in the UK anyone can practise as a clinical animal behaviourist whether they have any qualifications and experience or not.  However, there are moves afoot to put pressure on the government to regulate the profession.  The Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) is one body that aims to be an umbrella regulatory body for the sector. The Council is made up of several professional trade bodies, representing animal trainers and behaviourists to the public. The ABTC sets and maintains the standards of knowledge and practical skills necessary to be an animal trainer or behaviourist. The ABTC maintains national registers of appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners.  A strict Code of Conduct and an annual CPD (Continuing Professional Development) requirement is expected from the professional trade bodies who are members of the Council.

The Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians (FAB Clinicians) is one such professional trade body, representing externally, independently accredited clinical animal behaviourists and those working towards independent accreditation.  CCAB Certification (formally the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Accreditation Committee) run the only independent scheme in the UK that assesses and accredits clinical animal behaviourists (‘CCABs’), who need to meet high educational, experiential and ethical standards.  CCABs are recommended by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and it is this certification that most pet insurance companies require

Zoe Demery, who runs Second Nature Behaviour, has a doctorate in animal behaviour and a first-class honours degree in zoology and psychology. She is a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB) in dogs, cats and parrots, which means she is fully accredited with the ABTC and CCAB Certification.  She is very happy to be a Certificated Member of FAB Clinicians. All of Second Nature Behaviour’s associate behaviourists are well qualified, but are still working towards CCAB accreditation.  We all work according to the Code of Conduct set by the Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians.

Exemplary feedback from our clients indicates they are appreciative of someone having the time to listen to them and to deal with their pets’ problems. Second Nature Behaviour can offer years of experience, well-qualified, empathic behaviourists and great facilities. We are able to provide you with the tools and the time you need to develop thorough behaviour treatment plans that are suitable for your pet’s individual circumstances. We employ kind, reward-based techniques to resolve behaviour problems in a range of animal species.

Will I be a member of a class?

No. Behaviour consultations (indeed all of our services) are held on a one-to-one basis, normally lasting between 1 ½ and 3 hours.  If you are seeking training classes, then we recommend finding an ABTC registered Animal Training Instructor.

What happens during the consultation?

Consultations are held on an appointment basis, either at one of our regional clinics or in your own home. If possible, all family members involved should be present. A history of the problem will be taken and your pet’s temperament assessed. After this, the counsellor will explain the motivation for the behaviour and devise a treatment programme to help you modify your pet’s behaviour.

What happens after the consultation?

Treatment programmes vary according to the nature and severity of the problem. Sometimes only the initial consultation, remote support and some hard work on your part work are sufficient. Moreover, a detailed report outlining the therapy will be sent to you and your veterinary surgeon. Further advice and aftercare are provided via further sessions and email for at least 3 months. Where treatment dictates it, or if you would prefer face-to-face support, a follow-up appointment can be arranged online.   Alternatively, we can come to your home again.  If you are a dog owner, we offer extensive face-to-face support following the initial consultation as part of our standard service.

Where does the consultation take place?

Although we are based in Birmingham, full consultations generally take place in your own home, allowing us to get a clearer picture of what is going on. We may also go out on one of your local walks.

We will travel to see cases up to approximately 1 ½  hours’ drive from Birmingham, including the West and East Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire. We also hold monthly regional and virtual behavioural clinics.  For parrots and cats outside our normal service area, we can see you over online video link.

Do you offer behaviour consultations for species other than dogs, cats and parrots?

Absolutely!  For instance, we can offer a range of behaviour advice about small furries, including enrichment advice.  Different rodents have different social structures in the wild, which means they each have different behavioural needs in the captive environment.  We are also experienced in birds other than parrots, as well as reptiles.  Second Nature Behaviour can help you understand your pet’s behavioural needs, subtler communication cues and resolve any issues that you may be having with each other. The key is to reduce your pet’s stress levels, which will in turn greatly reduce your own!  Note though that we have not been independently accredited by ASAB in our abilities to help with species other than dogs, cats and psittacines.  Where we feel that a case is beyond our competence, then we will refer you onto another more appropriately qualified individual.  Please contact us for further information, or ask your vet for a referral.

I have multiple pets with problems within my household – does this mean you’ll charge double?

No, we won’t, although it often brings some complexity to the problem. For instance, if you have two dogs or a dog and a cat, we will charge our standard dog consultation price as we would for just one dog.

What kind of guarantees can you offer me? What if your suggestions don’t work?

We cannot guarantee a ‘cure’ or work miracles, but if between us we can diagnose what is going on, and if you are prepared to work hard, dramatic improvement is not unusual.  The treatment plan is designed to be fluid.  If what we initially suggest doesn’t seem to have much effect, then we will reassess and make some other suggestions about what to do. 

How quickly will we see results? How long will it take to solve the problem?

There is no quick fix to any kind of behaviour problem. The treatment plan advised may produce results very quickly, but often it will take time, effort and commitment from all of the family to produce the improved behaviour. Always remember that your pet’s current problems may have developed over a long period of time, so it may take a particularly long time to improve. It really varies from individual to individual. However, support from us is ongoing, as you need it. Following your consultation, further advice is available by phone and email as you progress, or face-to-face if you require it. Progress is often faster with greater follow-up behaviour support within your own environment.

Will neutering my pet cure their problem? Should we do this before a behaviour consultation?

This is something that you need to discuss with your vet. Sometimes vets advise that neutering can make the behaviour problem worse, so it would probably be best to wait at least until after the behaviour consultation even if you decide with them to go ahead with it.

Will you tell me if the risks are too great? We are considering rehoming or euthanasia – you are our last hope.

It is important to have realistic expectations for what can be achieved.  Behaviour problems take a lot of time and work to improve, sometimes never fully going away.  However, very often at least some management strategies and techniques can be put in place to help with the behaviour. Your behaviourist will be able to discuss the different options with you once they have fully assessed your pet and your situation.  The behaviourist will make a risk assessment as well as provide you with the treatment plan if necessary.

When should I consider a clinic consultation instead of a home visit?

The clinic is a much more affordable option than a home visit, but it is not suitable for all individuals or problems. The clinic is designed to provide you with some management strategies rather than a full behaviour modification treatment plan.  A clinic behaviour assessment is not as thorough as a full behaviour consultation in your home. For instance, a thorough exploration of the home environment may be central to the treatment plan. In each clinic session only really one behaviour problem can be dealt with at a time.  As with a home visit, your vet is still kept informed at all stages of the process.


Payment and paperwork

Why must I seek a referral from my vet? I’m sure my pet is perfectly healthy – what’s the point?

A strong link between the veterinary surgeon and the animal behaviourist is essential in all cases. In order to rule out any physiological causes for the problem behaviour and in accordance with the Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians‘ Code of Conduct, we only work on veterinary referral. Behavioural symptoms are often intertwined with some medical conditions. To provide a truly holistic solution to your problem, your vet needs to be involved at all stages of the process. The behaviourist will work closely with your vet, who often provides ongoing support from their end for various elements of the behaviour plan. 

How does the vet referral process work? What do you need from them? Do I have to pay more? My vet just said to give you a call – is that enough?

We will send you a referral form to give to your vet. Ask them to look at your pet and fill the form in. You should send this to us prior to the consultation, together with any clinical records that your vet may think are relevant. Alternatively, your vet may like to email, fax (0844 358 3201), or post their records directly to us. Note that they can also fill in their referral online. If you have already spoken to your vet, then this may be sufficient, but please double-check with them. Different vets have different ways of doing things. Some vets charge an extra fee for a referral.

How much does it cost?

The total cost is dependent upon the species, the location of the consultation and who is your primary clinician.  Consultation prices start at £150.  You can find our table of services here.

How should we make the payment?

Consultation bookings are secured upon receipt of the full fee in advance, which can be paid by debit/credit card over the phone, online here, BACS transfer, or we can email you a unique link upon request. Some services require a deposit (e.g. dog consultations), whereas others, such as clinics, require the full fee to be paid in advance before appointment slots can be secured.  A confirmation letter and behaviour questionnaire will then be sent to you. 

If your pet is insured, you may be able to claim back the fees from your pet insurance company, but you will need to first check with them that your pet’s insurance policy covers behaviour work.

How do you take card details? Who is your merchant provider?

Our merchant providers are PayPalSquareStripe and GoCardless.  All four institutions are Authorised Payment Institutions regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

We primarily use GoCardless for our online payments, payments by email and package direct debit payments.  You can rest assured that GoCardless: 

  • Provides access to the Direct Debit network to thousands of businesses in the United Kingdom.
  • All payments are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee. The Guarantee protects customers against payments made in error or fraudulently, making Direct Debit the UK’s safest payment method.
  • Money collected by GoCardless is held in designated client monies accounts. All sensitive details are RSA encrypted and only communicated over secure channels.

We use Stripe to process card payments over the phone.  To protect Stripe customers, all information the customer submits is encrypted to Stripe’s servers, regardless of whether a public or private Wi-Fi connection or a data service on a phone (such as 3G or 4G) is being used. Stripe complies with all required PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards. They never sell information to third-party vendors.  Stripe protects its systems with industry-leading technology and security controls, including:

  •     Stripe performs data encryption within the card reader at the moment of transaction.
  •     Stripe’s software is developed using industry-standard security best practices.
  •     Stripe’s servers are monitored around the clock by dedicated security staff.
  •    Once you have made a payment, in the unlikely event that you are unhappy with the work that has been carried out, you can contact Stripe them or us (0121 299 0188) and together will take direct steps to help resolve the problem for you.

What is your cancellation policy?

Our terms and conditions contain the details of our cancellation policy. Booking a service with us means that you accept and agree to abide by our terms and conditions. Cancellations should be made in writing.  After you’ve made a booking and paid a deposit or advance fee, there is a cooling-off period of 14 days from the time of booking.  However, if you choose for the service to take place within these 14 days, then you lose your right to cancel with a refund. 

After the cooling-off period, for clinic, triage call and follow-up appointments, the fee is non-refundable. Whereas for all other services, if you cancel more than 5 working days before the appointment day, the consultation may either be re-scheduled and the fee carried over to the next session (up to two times), or half of the total fee is retained to cover administration costs.

Any cancellations received within 5 days or less of the appointment will result in retention of all of the deposit, plus the full fee for that service being invoiced. The full fee of a service is due even if you choose not to take advantage of all aspects of the service.

What if we are outside your travel zones?

For any travel beyond our normal 30 miles, we charge the normal fee plus £2 per mile (return journey).  Travel expenses could be saved if you come to us at one of our clinics or if we see you virtually.  Give us a call on 0121 299 0188 so we can discuss the possibilities.

Are you covered by insurance?

Second Nature Behaviour and our employees are fully covered by professional indemnity and public liability insurance.

Luke, Harry and Trixy
Benji, Dawn and Paul
Nicki the vet
Ted, Rob and Michelle
Emma the vet
Chip, James & Sarah
Riley & Paul
Pebbles & family
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Dotty, Annie & Colin
Brambles & Corinne
Bubba, Karen & Gary
Alfie, Mary, Michael & Chris
Ernie, Jennie, Ian & Alfie
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Goldie & Lucy
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Cocoa & Julia
Bailey, Andrew & Denise
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