ABCs 4 Dogs

Dr. Andrea Breen founded ABCs 4 Dogs in 2020 to promote canine well-being and help dogs and their humans live happy and harmonious lives together. ABCs 4 Dogs aims to improve awareness of who dogs are as a species and what they need to thrive; to promote gentle and effective approaches to teaching behaviours that are essential life skills for dogs in a human world; and to help dogs and their people form joyful and loving connections that nurture well-being for both ends of the leash.

Andrea and Ash

Based in the Dufferin Grove area of Toronto, Andrea works with committed caregivers across Canada (via Zoom). Andrea has over 25 years experience as an educator, Her approach is inclusive of diverse learning styles, abilities, ages, cultural backgrounds, genders, and previous dog experience. Interested in learning more? Scroll down for program descriptions and blog posts, follow ABCs 4 Dogs on Facebook, and contact Andrea at abcs4dogs@gmail.com.


ABCs 4 Dogs Services

Current offerings include Single Session Consults, as well as the following packages: ABCs of Dogs and Babies, ABCs of Rescue, and Dynamic Dog Behaviour Consultations.

Are you looking for help with an emotional or behavioural issue? Single Session Consults with Andrea are 90 minutes and include an assessment, Q & A session, and a follow-up email with customized resources & recommendations. The cost is $120 + HST. Available Canada-wide via Zoom. To book your session contact Andrea at abcs4dogs@gmail.com.

ABCs of Dogs and Babies draws on Andrea’s unique background as a developmental psychologist, teacher, parenting educator, dog behaviour consultant, and licensed Family Paws Parent Educator. Andrea developed this program to help expectant families (of all configurations) prepare for life with baby(ies) and dog(s). Ideally started 3+ months before baby arrives, the program teaches parents and caregivers how to support your dog in the transition to “family dog”, prevent problems, minimize stress, and nurture healthy child-dog relationships. ABCs of Dogs and Babies consists of 4 customized sessions (60-90 minutes each) with Andrea + links to additional resources and email support between sessions. The program is available Canada-wide via Zoom. The cost is $480 (+HST). To get started contact Andrea at abcs4dogs@gmail.com.

Whether your new dog is coming from life on the streets or a previous home, settling in with a new human family is a massive transition. Ideally started BEFORE your new best friend comes home, this 1 on 1 program is customized for your dog, lifestyle and level of previous experience. From first-time dog caregiver to professional dog trainer, the ABCs of Rescue program is designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills, and support you need to understand your new dog, minimize stress, begin to teach essential life skills, prevent behavioural issues, and create a strong foundation for a wonderful life together.

Examples of topics covered:

  • Create an environment and routine to foster safety and trust
  • Understand your dog’s body language
  • Understand how trauma affects your dog’s learning and behaviour
  • Learn to communicate effectively with your dog
  • Facilitate safe child-dog interactions
  • Introduce new dogs (and/or cats)
  • Choose the right equipment
  • Prevent emotional and behavioural problems
  • Stress-less toileting/housetraining
  • Understand your dog’s developmental stage
  • Understand your dog’s sleep and exercise needs
  • Use enrichment to promote well-being
  • Spot signs of potential discomfort and pain
  • Make the most of your veterinary visits
  • Develop the foundations for essential life skills (e.g. recall, loose-leash walking)
  • Troubleshoot: what to do when problems arise

The program consists of 4 sessions (60-90 minutes each) with Andrea + links to additional resources and email support between sessions. ABCs of Rescue is available Canada-wide via Zoom. The cost is $480 (+HST). To get started contact Andrea at abcs4dogs@gmail.com.

As a canine behaviour consultant and the first certified Dynamic Dog Practitioner in Canada, Andrea’s Dynamic Dog behavioural assessments go DEEP to get to the root causes of behaviour problems, and include an emphasis on both psychological and physical well-being. These consultations are appropriate for all dogs who have emotional and/or behavioural issues, but especially dogs whose behaviour has recently changed and dogs who are exhibiting behavioural issues that are puzzling to their caregivers and other professionals.

Why consider physical health as part of a behaviour assessment?

For as many as 80% of dogs presenting for treatment at behaviour clinics, behaviour issues are related to undiagnosed pain. Pain can be very difficult to detect in routine veterinary appointments. Dogs tend to be stressed at the vet’s, which affects their posture, reactions, and even their pain perception. Veterinarians rarely get to observe dogs in their day-to-day lives and rely on caregivers’ descriptions of their dogs’ functioning, but it is difficult for caregivers to detect the often subtle changes that are clues to discomfort and pain. A thorough behavioural assessment should carefully consider the whole dog, including their physical functioning.

Dynamic Dog Consultations include the following:

  • A 90-minute initial assessment meeting where we explore your dog’s behaviour, psychology, history, environment, relationships, routines, and physical health
  • Initial recommendations to support emotional well-being and positive behaviour
  • A 60-minute lesson to teach you how to gather evidence of your dog’s functioning that will help you learn to detect potential issues and track changes over time
  • You will then gather photos and videos of your dog engaging in specific activities
  • An in-depth assessment by Andrea involving analyses of your dog’s conformation, posture, gait, functioning in activities of daily living, and more
  • A follow-up meeting to discuss findings and recommendations
  • A detailed written report for your veterinarian with supporting photos and video links. *Please note that only a veterinarian can make a diagnosis. The purpose of the Dynamic Dog veterinary report is to provide detailed observations, evidence of your dog’s functioning, and information about possible connections between pain and behaviour

Dynamic Dog Consultations are available Canada-wide via Zoom. The cost is $450 (+HST) and includes email support between sessions. Andrea accepts referrals from veterinarians and trainers and welcomes their participation in the Dynamic Dog consultation process. To get started contact Andrea at abcs4dogs@gmail.com.

Experience and Qualifications

Andrea grew up riding and showing horses and has lived with dogs most of her life. Working to help her own rescue dogs feel safe in their new lives led her to seek out opportunities to learn from some of the world’s leading canine behaviour professionals. Her interest in learning about dogs deepened when she and Dr. Lynda Ashbourne decided to launch the Families Interacting with Dogs (FIDO) research lab at the University of Guelph. In preparation to lead research on human-dog interactions, Andrea has delved deep into the dog side of these relationships. She’s now spent 4 years in professional dog training and behaviour certification courses. She has completed most of her dog-focused education in the UK with schools that emphasize gentle, holistic, dog-centred, and scientific approaches that go beyond “obedience” to help dogs thrive in their relationships with humans.

Andrea earned the Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour (with distinction) through the International School for Canine Psychology and Behaviour (ISCP) under the tutelage of Dr. Teresa Tyler (now Principal at The DoGenius). Andrea is also an ISCP-certified dog trainer, a certified Dynamic Dog Practitioner , a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator and a graduate of Michael Shikashio’s Aggression in Dogs Master Course. Recently, she completed the Puppy Power course with internationally renowned veterinary behaviourist Dr. Amber Batson and she is currently completing Dr. Batson’s intensive year-long Aggression for Dog Behaviour Professionals course. Andrea has also taken shorter courses with Victoria Stilwell, Dr. Amy Cooke, and Sindhoor Pangal. She is an Associate Member of the Professional Dog Trainers of Europe (PDTE).

Andrea’s “day job” is as associate professor of Family Relations and Human Development at the University of Guelph where she co-leads the new Families Interacting with Dogs (FIDO) research lab. For more on this check out her teaching and research.

Media

You can learn more about Andrea’s philosophy and approach by reading her feature article on animal rights and dog training in the November 2020 issue of the IAABC Journal and watching her recent interview with Andrew Hale of Dog-Centred Care. Andrea’s articles on children and dogs can be found in Today’s Parent.

Blog

Empty Nest Dogs

I just came from delivering a presentation to our incoming university students. I ended up having a nice chat with a family whose daughter is getting ready to leave home for her first year of studies. Her biggest worry is that she will have to leave her dog behind. She’s anxious about how she’ll copeContinue reading “Empty Nest Dogs”

Some thoughts on sexual violence and children’s relationships with dogs

I want to share some thoughts about sexual violence and children’s relationships with dogs. It’s a long one, so you might want to grab a cuppa. As a critical developmental psychologist, professor, parent educator, and dog behaviour practitioner, I think A LOT about what kids learn through their relationships with dogs. And it has meContinue reading “Some thoughts on sexual violence and children’s relationships with dogs”