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FAQ

General questions

Payment and paperwork

Dog consultations

Cat consultations

Parrot consultations

One-to-one training

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.

We also provide a range of one-to-one training sessions, if you would just like some general help with training your pet.

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.

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 hereYou 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 pet behaviour counsellor whether they have any qualifications and experience or not.  However, there are moves afoot to put pressure on government to regulate the profession.  The Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) is a regulatory body, backed by the UK government, which represents animal trainers and animal behaviour counsellors to both the public and to legislative bodies.  It sets and maintains the standards of knowledge and practical skills needed to be an animal trainer or animal behaviour therapist, and it will maintain the national register of appropriately qualified animal trainers and animal behaviourists.  The ABTC imposes a minimum of degree standard education and supervised experience to practise as a behaviourist.  An annual CPD (Continuing Professional Development) requirement is expected from the membership bodies.

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)  and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) are affiliated to the Council and members of these organisations fulfil the ABTC criteria. 

ASAB runs the only the only independent scheme in the country that certifies clinical animal behaviourists who meet high educational, experiential and ethical standards. ASAB accredited behaviourists are recommended by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and it is this certification the pet insurance companies require.

Zoe Demery has a doctorate in animal behaviour, first class honours degree in zoology and psychology and she is a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB), which means she is fully accredited with the ABTC and ASAB.  She is very happy to be a full member of the APBC.

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 different 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.

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. If you would like to get an idea, have a look at these example cases.

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 is sufficient. Moreover, a detailed report outlining the therapy will be sent to you and your veterinary surgeon. Further advice and aftercare is provided via the telephone, Skype and email for at least 6 months. Where treatment dictates it, or if you would prefer face-to-face support, a follow-up appointment can be arranged at one of our clinics   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 behavioural clinics.


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! 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, depending on which travel zone you are in.

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 behavioural 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.

Payment and paperwork

Why must I seek 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 Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors' 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 where you live and what the problem is. We charge according to a zonal system to account for travel costs - this starts at £150 for parrots, £200 for cats and £243 for dogs. We also hold monthly behavioural clinics in different regions at £150. You can find our table of services here.

How should we make the payment?

The total cost is dependent upon where you live and what the problem is. We charge according to a zonal system to account for travel costs. Consultation bookings are secured upon receipt of a deposit, 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, 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.  The total remaining balance is due at the appointment, payable by cash, cheque, or card (but we prefer cheques).  If you are a dog owner, after the initial consultation fee is paid, the follow-up monthly fee is collected by direct debit.  Dog owners can alternatively pay for the full amount in advance and receive a 10% discount.

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 PayPalSquare, Stripe 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 Square to process card payments over the phone.  To protect Square customers, all information the customer submits is encrypted to Square'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. Square complies with all required PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards. They never sell information to third-party vendors.  Square protects its systems with industry-leading technology and security controls, including:

  •     Square performs data encryption within the card reader at the moment of transaction.
  •     Square’s software is developed using industry-standard security best practices.
  •     Square’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 them (0800 098 8008) 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, 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 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 deposit carried over to the next session, or half of the deposit 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 dog consultation package is due even if you choose not to take advantage of all aspects of the service.

What if we are outside your travel zones?

We will charge Zone 5 prices plus £1 per mile (return journey).  Travel expenses could be saved if you come to us at one of our clinics.  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.

Dog consultations

When should I consider a clinic appointment instead of a home appointment?

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.


Cat consultations

Is it ok to bring our cat to one of your behaviour clinics?

Cats often find unfamiliar environments rather stressful, so we ask you not to bring your cat to our clinic. However, we could chat face-to-face at the clinic without your cat, as long as you provide all the records that we requested beforehand. For instance, we ask you to draw a diagram of the layout of your home in the questionnaire that you complete prior to the appointment. Any videos or photos of your home sent to us prior to the clinic would also be very useful.  If we are still finding it difficult to understand what’s going on though, we could also try a video or Skype call, facilities allowing. It may be harder to get to the bottom of the problem without a home visit, but our cat owners have found these clinics to be very useful.

How should I go about arranging a vet referral for my cat?

Cat behaviour problems often have some physiological element, which is why it is important for a vet to thoroughly check over your cat before referring onto us. For instance, often cats have urinary tract problems, which exacerbate house-soiling issues.  

Remember that vet visits are stressful for cats; so do chat through the different options with your vet first. For example, if you are having problems between cats in the household, taking one cat out can make things worse. One way to make the experience less stressful is to leave your cat transport box out for several days, then feed your cat(s) inside it.

Parrot consultations

Can I just get some quick advice about my parrot? It's not a very big problem.

Parrots are very complex for such little creatures.  They're very intelligent and social animals that require a lot to keep them busy.  Even small behaviour issues can turn out to be at the root of something greater, so they take a while to resolve.  Unfortunately, we do not offer telephone or email consultations, but you can certainly come along to one of our clinics if you don't want a full home visit consultation. It is not necessary to bring your parrot to the clinic, but please bring with you all the recordings requested. If following your questionnaire, our behaviourists think a more in-depth investigation is required, we will let you know before your appointment.  Also have a look at our general enrichment service.

My parrot isn't registered with any vets - what should I do?

It is still very important to obtain a referral from a vet, but it should be from an avian vet, or you can look for vets advertising exotic pet care. In the Birmingham area, you could consider Amicus Vets in Solihull, or the Manor Vets branch in Edgbaston.

One-to-one training

When should I choose a training session over a behaviour consultation?

This is a tricky one to answer, as sometimes what seems like a simple training problem (e.g. toileting in the house) is actually a sign of something much more serious (e.g. separation anxiety).  That's why it's very important to talk to one of our behaviourists before booking a training session.  Training sessions are useful for topics such as teaching your dog better recall, reducing pulling on-lead, or something fun like tracking.

Do you offer group classes? For example, I want to be able to socialise my dog with other dogs.

We do not run currently run any group classes.  Behaviour consultations and training sessions are held on a one-to-one basis, normally lasting between 1 ½ and 2 hours. Have a look at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) for some accredited, experienced and ethical trainers. If you have a new puppy, while it is important to socialise him/her properly, sometimes a one-to-one session is much more useful than a 'puppy party'.

Do you offer training sessions for species other than dogs?

Absolutely!  Whatever the species and whatever they want to learn!