Dog Behavioral Psychologist/Canine Ethologist: Scott Rudolph Dip.Dog.Psy
I offer dog behavior consultations, training, and rehabilitation services to help with fear, aggression, walking, and other behavioral challenges. I also offer basic training for puppies and dogs of all ages.
I have been working with dogs my whole life and professionally for over 15 years. In that time, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with and bond with almost every kind of dog. No two are ever the same, but they are all guided by their own specific and special canine nature.
Modern dogs descended from the Grey Wolf and share over 98% of their DNA with this genetic relative. When early wolves encountered man and metaphorically said, “We should work together, so that both sides can benefit,” they got an easier meal, and humans got protection and assistance in return. Those wolves’ descendants have been bonding and working with humans for thousands of years, and as result they are truly our best friend.
Humans help dogs survive within the boundaries of our society, and dogs help us to live in the moment and to experience true, unconditional love. We must take this reciprocal relationship into account when we consider how to be there for our canine friends.
As pet owners, we must serve our dogs’ needs as they are: dog needs, not human needs. Love is a wonderful thing, but dogs need more than love. They need leadership, stability and boundaries within the pack, the lack of which will leave them feeling insecure and unsafe. In nature, having a weak leader is a threat to survival. Without a strong human leader, dogs will resort to ‘running the show’ as they attempt to make sure that someone, at least, is looking out for the pack. We’d never expect a five-year-old child to be able to ‘run the show’ or make all the decisions—so why do we ask this of our dogs? This expectation is unfair to our dogs and gets in the way of having healthy, balanced relationships with them.
Because dogs are so closely bonded with the human species, most humans forget (or never even think about) the natural instincts of dogs. Dogs have an innate need for leadership, structure, rules, and boundaries alongside compassion. They want to know where they stand amidst their pack, and they want to feel secure about this standing. In our everyday life, this translates to exercise, boundaries, calm energy, and affection. We as humans must be the authority figure in their eyes. Meeting these dog needs never translates to domination, yelling, abuse, punishment or neglect. On the flip side, treating our dogs like human babies or kids does not meet their needs either. We must approach and respect them as an animal distinct from ‘human being.’ The major disservice we as humans do with dogs is to try to turn them into humans, instead of empowering them to live in natural balance and nurturing their canine state. As Martha Scott once said, “Do not make the mistake of treating your dogs like humans or they will treat you like dogs.”
A dog’s temperament is a direct result of its owner’s ability to understand and provide for its needs. Most dog behavior challenges arise when humans do not provide sufficient exercise (physical and mental), a stable environment, or the leadership dogs crave. Almost all undesirable behaviors stem from a dog’s confusion about its “job description” in our human “pack.” There are no bad dogs—there is only a widespread misunderstanding of how to give dogs what they need. We can teach an old dog new tricks, if we consider ourselves to be the ‘old dog!’ It’s never too late to turn a dog’s (or our own) behavior around.
As a Dog Behaviorist, I help the dog find its balance and boundaries, and I teach and help dog owners to become balanced leaders. While no two dogs are alike, I use consistent methods and simply modify their application to each specific case. As part of this process, I access the dog owner’s energy and interaction with the dog and see where there is a breakdown in human/dog communication. From there, I can help create a breakthrough for both owner and dog. I never ever use pain, punishment or shock collars. These methods create fear within the dog and are counterintuitive to finding balance with your dog.
What we never want: dogs that are nervous, fearful, insecure, tense, excited, dominant, territorial, obsessive or possessive.
What we do want: dogs that are calm, attentive, and have submissive energy. This combination is a social state of mind. Within canine groups (packs) there is always a hierarchy, and positions exist within the hierarchy to benefit the group as a whole. While our culture often resists this idea, in the wild it is necessary for survival. Submission is not punishment. For dogs, it represents a state of relaxation—a knowledge that the leader is in control, and the dog’s well-being is not at risk. It provides for a wonderful symbiotic relationship between leaders and followers. In our human homes, becoming an effective leader helps our dogs and simultaneously helps us, too. We all can benefit from a calm mind. Dogs live in the moment and derive truth from the energy around them. The best reward for them is affection and a calm mind, free of stress, anxiety or fear. In return, dogs teach us to be more present, because they need us to be. Dogs can teach us profound things about ourselves.
I employ classical conditioning (more so for younger dogs and puppies) and positive reinforcement methods.
“After owning my dog for three years and having little success with medication, dog trainers and behaviorists I was skeptical of what Scott would be able to accomplish in just an hour with her. As soon as Scott sat down next to her crate and did not flinch as she snarled at him I knew this training session would be different. He was honest about what would be required from us as her owners for her to have any improvement in behavior. Scott was able to give us the motivation we needed to step up as owners and reassured us that that our dog was not beyond saving.”
– Jessi Havens, Madison, WI“
I highly recommend Scott for dog behavior work based on his patience and expertise. I recently got a puppy, and Scott has walked me through dealing with some behavioral challenges and has supported me in raising a well-behaved and happy pup. Scott understands the importance of structure and care required and has helpful recommendations and practical applications to make pet care easier and more fun. He is professional, ethical and talented in his chosen profession.”
– Ria Gardner, Phoenix, AZ
“Scott has provided excellent service and care to both our boys, two Catahoula leopard dogs. One of our dogs, Cooper, has had some behavioral issues over the years, suffering from separation anxiety, and would be destructive when we were gone. Scott helped us to find a safe place to keep Cooper while we were gone, so that he would not harm himself or our belongings. He also worked with Cooper to stay calm on walks and not let his anxiety and energy get the best of him. Scott has always been willing to come over and help with any issues we are having, and really helped us after our dogs got in a fight one day. He provided us with tips for keeping the boys calm and avoiding any future fights. My favorite thing about Scott is that he truly cares for the dogs and is willing to do anything to help them out. He is always willing to talk with me and give feedback of how the dogs are doing, and any issues he sees with them. I can tell he has truly developed a strong bond with the dogs, based on their reactions when they see him, which involves a lot of tail wagging and bringing Scott their favorite toys. Without hesitation, I would recommend Scott for any behavior work.”
– Jillian Descourouez, Verona, WI
“I contacted Scott because I was having trouble with walking my dog. My dog Coop is a chocolate lab mix that I rescued about two years ago. Coop would always pull me around the block and chase after squirrels or other furry creatures. He would have terrible outburst towards other dogs. I got to the point that I did not want to take my dog on walks anymore. I met with Scott just one time and he changed my life. Scott was so patient and observed the way I would normally walk my dog. After observing, Scott took control of Cooper and showed me how to properly walk him without pulling or choking. I had always thought that pulling or yanking the leash was the proper solution. I am truly thankful that I contacted Scott at Take Paws. He really knows what he is doing.”
– James A.R., Madison, WI
“Working with Scott, was like finding a miracle-worker! Before Scott’s help I was literately crying everyday and wondering what I had done, deciding to get a puppy. I adopted my large-mixed-breed puppy, Luna Mae, from a rescue organization in February of 2014. When I first adopted her at about 3 months old, Luna Mae was as cute and sweet as they get. However, shortly after I adopted her, she started to show more and more signs of her previous street-life, and I realized there were more issues than I knew how to handle. (Just to name a few: bone aggression, going absolutely crazy on walks when anything fast or loud went by, defiance peeing right in front of me, aggression towards other dogs, barking, digging, jumping, not listening and she was completely disconnected from me, as her owner.) I was determined not to become a statistic and give back the cute little puppy I adopted for the 50 pound dog I now didn’t know how to handle. That’s when I turned to Scott…and THANK GOODNESS I DID! Scott literately saved my sanity and turned the entire situation around, just by being who his is and providing his knowledge and know-how! Scott is the real deal, an undeniable dog whisperer (or as he says, dog listener). He taught me how to see Luna first as a dog and meet her needs in order to create a balanced animal. He taught me how to use compassionate boundaries, rules and limitations to create a harmonious relationship between Luna Mae and me. Scott also helped me understand Luna Mae’s mental and physical developmental stages and helped me surrender and trust in the process when needed. Not to mention, Scott is truly one-of-a-kind human being! He cares beyond measure for the people and animals he helps, and always has time, energy and compassion for any and every question or concern. Because of Scott, life with Luna Mae is now rewarding and balanced. She’s 11 months old now, so we will continue to work with Scott as she grows and reaches new stages of her development. Words can’t express the GRATITUDE I have for Scott and all of the knowledge, experience, patience, time and energy he continuously gave, time and time again! Luna Mae and I would not be where we are today with out him! I am very grateful for all of Scott’s help.”
– Celeste Russell, Madison, WI