Pet Perspective is my veterinary behaviour and education practice. My passion is sharing information about animal behaviour with veteterinary staff, trainers, breeders and pet owners. My background as a veterinary scientist means that my focus is on scientifically-sound, force-free methods of teaching the animals that share our lives. You can find more information about me below.
I hope that you enjoy my website!
- Dr Jen
Photo by Steve Martin of Natural Encounters, Inc.
Dr Jen Nesbitt-Hawes BVSc (Hons) MVSt (Wild Med) MANZCVS (Vet Behaviour)
Dr Jen graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons) from Sydney University in 2001. She started work in mixed practice in Queensland and developed her interest in veterinary behaviour, completing the CVE Postgraduate course in Veterinary Behaviour in 2003.
Her veterinary career has led her around the world, including locum work in the United Kingdom, experience with game animals in South Africa, a Masters in Wildlife Medicine (studying Orang-Utans in Sumatra) and back to small animal practice at Doyalson Animal Hospital where she practiced for six years. Dr Jen completed her Low Stress Handling certification during this time.
Her passion for animal behavioural science has been a big part of her work. She has attended many continuing education courses and offered behaviour consultations in the veterinary clinics at which she has worked. In 2013 she attended the Natural Encounters Contemporary Animal Training and Management Workshop in Florida USA. In 2014, Dr Jen was accepted as a Member of the Behaviour Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Science by examination (one of less than 100 Behaviour Veterinarians in Australia/New Zealand with this qualification). She has recently served as the Behaviour Chapter President.
Dr Jen has been running puppy classes since 2002, has previously competed in canine agility trials and is a member of the Australian Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the Pet Professionals Guild. She is also an administrator for an international Facebook forum: the Behaviour Veterinarians Discussion Group.
She lives with her husband, their children (who are currently training them in the Ways of Small People), and a cat (and office assistant) named Kitty-le-Mew.
To keep up with scientific advances in the field of behavioural science, and to provide clients with the most up-to-date information, Dr Jen regularly engages in continuing education. In fact, she's a bit of a conference addict!
Here are some of the events and conferences that Dr Jen has attended recently:
CVE Conference: What's behaviour got to do with it? (Dr Gonçalo da Graça Pereira, Dr Kersti Seksel, et al)
Pain and Behaviour CVE Webinar (Dr Sarah Heath)
Geek Week PPGA International Online Conference
Pets and the Pandemic CVE webinar (Dr Gonçalo da Graça Pereira)
APDT Conference Pokolbin (Ken Ramirez, Peta Clarke, et al)
Developing Emotional Intelligence in Puppies (Dr Sarah Heath)
Learning about Learning (Dr Susan Friedman, Peta Clarke)
Emotional Health and the Vet Practice (Dr Sarah Heath)
Delta Institute Dog Behaviour Conference: Exploring the Relevance of Dog Emotional Health in Training (Dr Sarah Heath, Dr Gaille Perry, Natalie Watson)
PPGA Australian summit (Chirag Patel, Kathy Sdao, Dr Kat Gregory)
Puppy School online webinar series Royal Canin (Dr Kersti Seksel, Dr Jess Beer)
ANZCVS Science Week Behaviour stream (Dr Gary Landsberg et al)
What kind of teaching methods do you use?
Behavioural science recognises that positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviour is the most powerful way of teaching animals. Interactions need to be clear and consistent, and kind. When an animal can trust that the people it lives with are reliable, and when it is able to communicate its needs, it is in the best position to start behavioural modification.
Sometimes, well-meaning owners can act based on inappropriate advice given by trainers or people claiming to be 'behaviour specialists', who use outdated and harmful training practices. Red flags to look out for are people (often calling themselves 'balanced' trainers), who encourage use of punitive methods of training, such as 'alpha rolls', use equipment such as choke or prong collars, or those who refer to 'dominance' to explain behaviour. Such techniques have actually been shown to increase anxiety and aggression in animals and are not recommended for behaviour modification. Please do not use punishment techniques to attempt to stop unwanted behaviours. Instead seek advice from a qualified behaviour vet, or qualified dog trainer who teaches using positive reinforcement techniques.
Are you a specialist?
Dr Jen holds a MANZCVS in Veterinary Behaviour. She has chosen to focus solely on practicing behavioural medicine and has more knowledge and experience in this field that most veterinarians. However, she is not a registered specialist in veterinary behavioural medicine. There are less than 5 individuals with this qualification currently offering private consultations in Australia. If you wish to see a Specialist based in NSW, please contact Dr Kersti Seksel of Sydney Animal Behaviour Services.
Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Herron, Meghan E.; Shofer, Frances S.; Reisner, Ilana R. Applied Animal Behaviour Science V: 117 Issue: 1-2 Pages: 47-54 DOI:10.1016/j.applanim.2008.12.011 Published: FEB 2009