The profession of Applied Animal Behavior is a relatively new field (25-30 years) made up of veterinarians, psychologists, and other professionals with advanced degrees in animal behavior and other behavioral and biological sciences. We specialize in applying scientific principles learned from the study of behaviors in the wild (ethology), psychological Learning Theory, and counseling skills to help people deal with their pet’s behavior problems. Humane methods, often involving various behavior modification techniques and sometimes medications, are used to help the owner solve the behavior problems.

Common behavior problems for dogs include aggression, barking, destructiveness, fears and anxieties, digging, housesoiling, compulsive problems, ingestion of inappropriate objects, eating disorders, and unruliness are some examples. For cats, housesoiling, spraying, scratching, aggression, excessive grooming and fighting, are common problems. These are just a few of the many behavioral problems treated in cats and dogs.

Francine will start by learning as much as possible about your family and your pet with a specific focus on the presenting behavior problem(s) through the Behavior History Form that you will complete. By reviewing that document she makes a behaviorial assessment. This means that she’ll determine exactly what the problem(s) is and why it is occurring, so that she knows how to solve it. She’ll then develop a treatment plan to solve the behavior problem. This is the focus of the consultation.

Then, she’ll take you step-by-step through the treatment plan, teaching you how to make the changes necessary to help your pet. These include physiological interventions, environmental changes, behavior modification exercises, and a discussion of training aids and behavior products that may be imperative for success. After the consultation she provides you with a written summary of what was discussed, along with detailed instructions on specific behavior modification exercises.

After earning her certification as a canine obedience instructor from Animal Behavior College in August 2005, Ms. Miller entered a graduate program at the American College of Applied Science to earn a Master of Science degree in Companion Animal Behavior Counseling and Certification as an Applied Animal Behaviorist, a nationally recognized credential for graduate level professional behaviorists as assessed by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS).

Francine has completed all of her Master’s degree requirements except her thesis. She has earned her certification from the Board of Professional Certification of the Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors as a Certified Canine Behavior Counselor (CCBC), as well as certification as an Associate with the International Association of Animal Behavior Counselors (IAABC).

Francine’s clinical experience includes working with Veterinary Behavior Consultants and Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist Patrick Melese, MA, DVM, DACVB in San Diego, CA since 2006. Francine supported Dr. Melese in his practice at

If the pet’s owners are motivated, capable, and have a reasonably workable schedule, the vast majority of behavior problems can be improved effectively with our help. Success depends heavily on the people carrying out the treatment plan and on the individual pet and problem. The prognosis for your pet should be discussed with Francine at the time of the consultation when the case has been evaluated, and again during the prescribed recheck appointments as indicated.

Francine can help by phone or web because she is not teaching your pet, she is teaching YOU what to do with your pet. Francine makes herself available through phone or web consults in order to help the most people. Unfortunately many people cannot find an educated, qualified behaviorist in their area.

Even if Francine sees your pet in person she will not try to elicit bad behaviors. If you have a video of your pet’s behavior problem she would be happy to watch it, but, she doesn’t need to see the problem in action to make an assessment. She relies on the Behavior History Form to do that. That’s why it’s so important to complete that fully and completely. She wants to stop your pet from practicing undesirable behavior(s) as soon as possible.

That’s up to you. The more effort you put into the work required, the more results you should see. It’s also up to your pet. Every pet is an individual and learns at a different rate. This is where your patience comes in. The severity of the problem and how long it has been going on also play a key role in how long it may take for the problem to resolve.