We love our clients! Have a look at what people are saying about us and feel free to contact us for more details about how we can help your pet towards better behavior.
Anxiety solutions for dogs, compassion for humans
I have a four year old dog named McLeod with a lot of energy and anxiety, which is a terrible combination. When he thinks he is going out he barks incessantly, shakes uncontrollably when riding in a car, and is very rough with our other dogs. However, he is very loving, loyal and shows a lot of affection to everyone in his pack.
James Gets Guidance
These extraordinary people are for those of us who need help, for those of us who have “had dogs all our lives” and “they’ve all been just fine” – until this dog.
This one (James) a shelter rescue, exploded for no obvious reason, was afraid, lunged at other dogs, scared the neighbors. For this one, we needed help. James was smart but hyperactive. He could not control his actions; he could not think clearly. James was not comfortable being himself. James was a sweet but desperate dog and Scott and his team at Synergy were the people to help.
We enrolled James in Scott’s excellent Reactive Rover class. We could really see James thrive, especially in a set of one-on-one sessions Scott developed for us, all using positive reinforcement training. Positive reinforcement training may seem over-the-top but it isn’t. For a fearful, reactive dog like James, it’s the only approach that works. Scott and his colleagues deliver beautifully.
And a word of advice: to get the most out of this, let Scott train you to be a good trainer. It’s a precision skill that “normal” dog owners often don’t need to take seriously. Take the time to understand the timing, the cues and responses. Scott is a master at this and you will be rewarding yourself as well as your dog for taking the opportunity seriously.
Hazel grows to like kids
Scott came to help us sort out some new aggressive behaviors that our dog, Hazel, was exhibiting after our son was born. In four visits he had helped us understand Hazel’s perspective, showed us how to work with her to reduce the episodes, and gave us tools to use to keep up our progress with her. Best of all, Hazel loved every minute of the training.
We haven’t had a recurrence of the problems since our last meeting. He was wonderful to work with and has a special understanding of dogs and their people. I frequently refer my clients to him and know they will be in good hands.
Jordan Nuccio, DVM
Two Rivers Veterinary Clinic Portland, Oregon
Java tolerates cats and vets
“Dr. Valli, Java is doing GREAT and I wonder if it is time to consider tapering her off the Reconcile [a medication for anxiety]. Her day-to-day behavior is excellent. She and the cats get along well. She loves to hang out on the back deck in the late afternoon and does very little barking. She is increasingly better on the leash. She is completely at ease with new people and enjoys meeting new people who show interest in her.
I recently took her to the vet because she had an eye infection. They did use a muzzle when they needed to use drops and take her to the back room to do a closer examination of the eye, but she went willingly and it was no big deal. She also had two shots in the examination room without a muzzle and she did fine. I used the muzzle when I had to give her drops twice a day but it was not terrible traumatic for her and she tolerated it fine. I am so proud of her and she is a great addition to the household. We sure love her. She’s not perfect but her faults are few and I have figured out how to work with her.”
Chad the bad, now the rad!
"A huge thank you to all the folks at Synergy. I have always been scared of other dogs when I first meet them and even a little nervous and over excited when meeting new people. Since I got my owner to take me to the Synergy classes I am not so nervous anymore."
Dexter enjoys staying calm
If my little dog only knew what a savior Scott and Synergy were to him, he would be bringing Scott treats! I cannot sing the praises loudly enough.
I adopted a cute little mutt from a rescue society about 2 years ago, and very shortly thereafter, he began to develop horrible aggression problems toward strangers. It made our lives miserable! He barked or growled at every person or dog that came near home. I stopped having people over to my house and started sneaking out the back stairs of my building when I needed to walk him. He got evicted from his Doggy Daycare for his mean little attitude toward the new dogs, and I was at my wit’s end.
I went to two trainers before Scott. The first one told me I may need to just euthanize him as she wasn’t sure he was fix-able. She referred me to a second trainer, who also told me that Dexter was going to require more assistance than she was going to be able to give him, and she couldn’t help us. Then we met Scott, and apprehensive, aggressive little Dexter loved him immediately and was taking treats out of his hands during the first visit. That never happens with strangers! Now, every time Dexter sees Scott, he runs to him full speed, tail wagging, so excited to see him.
Scott has shown the patience of a saint and unbelievable insight into the mixed up little brain of my lovable dog. Dexter has come leaps and bounds and it is all thanks to Scott’s wise, persistent, gentle training of both my dog and me! I am living with a different dog! I take him running on the crowded waterfront, and he doesn’t even notice the bikes, skateboards, children, etc…. that come zooming past us. Now, instead of sneaking out the back steps, we ride the elevator proudly and my neighbors actually refer to him as “the best behaved dog in our building!”
Not a week has gone by in the past 2 months, that someone from my building doesn’t comment, “Wow! He is doing so much better!” (Frequently people I have never met!). “Scott quite literally saved my dog’s life! I would whole heartedly recommend him to anyone who needs a little (or a lot of!) behavioral help with their dog. If he is this much of a miracle worker, with my incredibly challenging dog, I can only imagine what he could do for other dogs!
Dispelling negative stereotypes
When I found my dog Mollie as a stray over a year and a half ago, it was obvious she’d had a hard life. She was emaciated and had clearly been used as a fighting dog. Mollie was sweet and loving from the start, but having presumably been raised outside, she had no manners at all.
In addition, due to her fighting history, she was pretty dog aggressive. “Last spring, I thought Mollie was ready to start some obedience training and organized socialization, so I began looking specifically for a trainer who used positive reinforcement. The last thing I wanted to do for Mollie was introduce any more negativity in her life.
That’s how I found Synergy Behavior Solutions. “We signed up for a beginner (Family Dog I) course, and I was truly amazed at the progress Mollie made! By the end of the class, she was an old pro at her “sit”, “down”, and “stay.” Even better, she was able to behave nicely around other dogs and focus very well on me during class.
In the months since, I can see how Mollie’s training continues to work for us. She obeys all her commands and is still improving her behavior around other dogs. “Because Mollie is a Pit Bull Terrier, I feel that it is important for her to be a good ambassador for that misunderstood breed. Her training with Synergy is really helping her overcome the difficulties of her previous life and understand how to just “be a dog.” I really enjoyed working with Scott, and plan to enroll Mollie in their advanced class to work towards her Canine Good Citizen certificate.
Helping Isabelle (and her mom) find peace
I first heard of Scott Raymond after consulting a holistic veterinarian, Dr Nuccio, here in Portland. My Golden Retriever Isabelle, had been showing signs of reactivity at one year old and at the age of two it was worse. I had received some wonderful training for her high arousal from Paws to Freedom, a service dog training organization. But the specialty there wasn’t for reactive dogs.
I decided to meet with Scott and his partner Valli (the founders of Synergy Behavior Solutions) for private sessions. For the first two years of her life I had Isabelle to every conceivable location to work and train with her: PSU, the Pearl, West 23rd , Farms and Pioneer Square. However, as time went on, I was more and more afraid to pass other dogs. I found myself ready to jump curbside, because at too close a range, Isabelle would jump other dogs.
I live right by Forest Park, but I couldn’t take her up there, because if dogs came up to her off lead she would lunge and growl . My world became smaller and smaller. And soon we were limited to our own street, then our own yard. My lovely soft Golden was just too much to handle because she felt so threatened by other dogs.
Scott worked right away on appropriate ways to channel her arousal into positive games. He went with me through my neighborhood to assess the challenges we were met with everyday. Right away I saw small improvements between Isabelle and I.
Scott fine tuned my understanding of dog body language to be better poised to get in front of the problem rather than react to it. Indeed, along with my dog, I had gotten reactive as well. Neither of us were having any fun on walks anymore. There was a potential dog problem around every corner.
That was October of 2009. Since then we have done more than I could have imagined. We actually completed Synergy’s class with real success, and had a lot of fun doing it. We take walks in the park, though not on the busiest of trails. Isabelle is still about management, but she has way more fun than she used to rather than being so worried all the time. And I have way more fun and confidence knowing I’m prepared to lead my dog through a more enjoyable life.
Scott has a wonderful positive demeanor with dogs and people as well . He kindly eased my fears about doing something wrong with lots of positive encouragement and plenty of clear strategies for coping with explosive situations, how to keep a clear head and how to be effective and move on positively from any mistakes. That’s a pretty special component for novices who, through circumstances, have been forced to go deeper into training than they ever imagined!
I feel that I received a mentorship rather than just training, rather than blaming myself for her being reactive we focused on how to deal positively at the place we were at. Its one of those lifetime opportunities that’s life changing.
Resolving fear with kindness
I originally contacted Synergy to help with my fear aggressive dog, Casey and his reaction toward strangers. I was already familiar with the concept of positive reinforcement and clicker training, but I had very little practical experience using the clicker.
After three private sessions, Casey’s aggressive reactions towards strangers have improved significantly. I am particularly pleased that he has almost completely stopped barking at people while riding in the car. This used to be a major problem. A single 15-minute training session in the car with Valli was enough to greatly decrease his barking, and with a little continued training our car rides are now much more peaceful.
Positive reinforcement is both effective as well as fun for the dog, and I would recommend Synergy Behavior Solutions to anyone needing assistance with dog training, whether it is for basic obedience and manners or behavior problems.
Cooper discovers being alone isn’t so bad
I wanted to give you a quick update on Cooper since it has been a few months. I’m very pleased with how Cooper is doing. Cooper came off his meds in June and he made the transition nicely. He hasn’t shown any signs of destruction. I still continue with the routine of having him go to his crate, where he gets a kong, when I leave. I also leave a kong/treat hidden somewhere down stairs.
I can’t thank you enough for helping Cooper and I. It has brought even greater peace into our lives.
Jennifer T. – Portland, Oregon
Cody gets kindness and care
Love it! We got to see Dr. Valli in regards to a dog who we weren't sure would have to be euthanized or could eventually get to a point where he could succeed with humans. Dr. Valli gave us so much information and left me feeling far more confident in the plan for the next few months. She let me ask as many questions as I want and made me feel that my questions and input were truly welcome.
Dr. Valli has an incredible bedside manner. She took great care to explain new training behaviors and to first demonstrate them and then have the owner practice as well. She is kind, caring, and came at the problem behaviors from multiple methods to address it in a full and complete manner.
I drove 3.5 hours to see her, and it was worth every minute and then some. I absolutely would use her again and I'm already recommending her to other folks!