There are only 10 people in California who are certified as a dog behavior consultant, and Fresno resident Emily Scott is one of them.
Scott has spent 25 years working with dogs, with most of that spent training service dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. Two years ago, she decided to strike out on her own, she said.
Scott underwent rigorous testing to receive her certification, culminating in a 55-page final exam through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, she said. According to Scott’s website, to even begin testing a candidate must have at least 500 hours of directly training dogs and endorsements from veterinarians. The test includes case studies on dog behavior and aggression as well as an in-depth understanding of canine learning theory, canine health, and canine behavior management and training.
Scott can work with puppies or adults, with groups of dogs or one-on-one, and train dogs in everything from basic tricks to acting as service dogs and therapy dogs. But she specializes in behavior, she said.
“I’m different from a dog trainer in that I don’t just teach obedience behaviors like sit down, stay, come,” she said. “I actually address the emotions of the dogs. So more like a dog psychologist.”
By addressing the emotions behind a behavior, Scott said she can not only better correct that behavior but control or even get rid of factors that contribute to the behavior. Basic training tends to take about five sessions, but dogs that react too aggressively or fearfully, could need as many as 20 sessions. Scott said an initial consultation costs $150; additional fees depend on the severity of the dog’s behavior and the client’s location.
Scott works to change a dog’s behavior through positive reinforcements via a clicker with food reward, rather than negative measures such as shocks collars and prong collars. By encouraging alternative behavior with the promise of a reward, the dog is more likely to repeat the desired action.
Scott has also worked with rescued dogs that lacked proper socialization in their youth to encourage more confidence and get them more comfortable around others. She has taken dogs that were frightened of everything and turned them into vivacious pets.
Scott said she has clients not just from around the Fresno area but also those who commute from the Bay Area or from Los Angeles. The Bay Area has several dog behavior consultants, but she is the only one listed in the central San Joaquin Valley. She has 35 active clients.
In addition to her private business, Scott partners with Elaine’s Pet Resorts in Fresno and Madera County to train staff and assist with problems.
Scott said she is well-versed in dog-related laws, and has worked nationally to improve laws on dog attacks, dog bites and dogs running loose. She also has worked with cities such as San Francisco to change laws on dog attacks and produced two national videos on dog attacks.
Scott’s website is www.emshappyk9s.com, with directions on how to contact her for dog behavior services.
Sarah Anderson: (559) 441-6248, @Sarahsonofander