Pet Behavior Change

Pet Behavior Change


A picture is worth a thousand words...Gunner & Wyatt have made so much progress. Even Layla is amazed they are laying this close each other. After, the death of my husband these boys decided to growl & fight all of the time. I thought I would have to let one go, my anxiety was terrible& they were bad dogs. Dr Maxwell gave me the confidence & tools to get them under control & now we're all much happier. Thank you from the Webbs. 🐕❤
I have a 9 year old SitZu, hear lately his behavor has been changing for no reason. His attention span, playfullness, laying facing the wall when we are in the same room and sleeping more. Does any one have any suggestions or concerns I need to know about.

Welcome to Pet Behavior Change, LLC. We provide behavior therapy and training for pet dogs, cats, and birds exhibiting behavior problems or training needs.

We now serve families in the following areas: Blacksburg and Roanoke, VA State College and Altoona, PA Morgantown, WV Charleston/Huntington, WV Orlando, FL

"Dr. Maxwell provided practical recommendations that delivered immediate results. She was very thorough answering our questions; her advice and instructions were extremely clear. She was pleasant and fun to deal with, explaining dog behavior improvements in easy to understand terms. The changes in our dog were amazing. We attribute being able to easily assimilate him into our family entirely to her guidance! THANK YOU for making our experience with a challenging dog so easy!!"

Paige Holt and Russ Bennett with Shayfur
Blacksburg, VA

"Dr. Maxwell's attention, care, and professionalism with my family and our pet was exactly what we needed at such a hard time and decision making process. I would absolutely recommend her services, expertise, and compassionate knowledge to anyone needing help and guidance with their pet no matter the circumstances they find themselves in. Dr. Maxwell made an extremely hard decision for my family not easier (there was no way to make any of it easier) but she gave us what was needed which was the confidence in our decision making. Because of the attention she gave us and our dog and sitting down with the whole family, we felt that her guidance, suggestions and heartfelt understanding of the situation reflected a true professional. To be a wonderful animal behaviorist I believe one has to also have a lot of empathy and understanding of human behavior and it showed that Dr. Maxwell had the ability and expertise to understand these nuances and dynamics that exist between a pet and their owner(s)."

Emma H. with Tobi
Blacksburg, VA

"Dr. Maxwell worked with us to address our dog's needs in our home which I think is most important. Her approach was logical and well explained. She seems to have a good understanding of a dog's behavior and how to address negative ones. She was great to work with. Although our call was about one dog, she recognized that we needed to work with both dogs to fully address the issues we had with the new dog. Dr. Maxwell not only helped us with modifying the negative dog behaviors, she enabled us to provide a home to a dog that had problems in its past home."

Jeff C. with Sissy and Possum
Salem, VA

Dogs sniff out coronavirus 'far better than machines or tests' - Alliance for Science Researchers in Finland and elsewhere are training dogs to detect the coronavirus.

Teacher's Pet: Our dogs in a world of masks

Has your dog shown any nervous responses to your face masks or those worn by others? This month, Dr. Maxwell reviews some strategies for acclimating dogs to this new world of facial coverings. As so much has changed this spring in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our dogs have some things to adjust to, as well. Our schedules have changed, our moods and

Teacher's Pet: How to play Kibble Hide and Seek

Dr. Maxwell reviews how to teach a fun game of Kibble Hide and Seek to occupy us during these long days at home with our pets! While we are sequestering home with our dogs, I thought it would be a great time to introduce a hide and seek game that any dog can learn to play

Distance Consultations — Pet Behavior Change

COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the stay-at-home ordinance passed in VA, in-home services have been temporarily suspended. The distance consultation series is still available at this time. This service may be arranged at any time with a typical wait time of under two weeks to begin. For more information on distance consultations, visit COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the stay-at-home ordinance passed in VA, in-home services have been temporarily suspended. The distance consultation series is still available at this time. This service may be arranged at any time with a typical wait time of under two weeks to begin.

Hearts of Gold

Hoomans aren't the only ones affected!

Double H Canine Training Academy... Epic Service Dog Training Failure

Not every dog is meant to be a service dog. 😊 Ryker giving it his all before flunking our of Service Dog Training School

Teacher's Pet: Is your pet a third wheel?

Do you know a pet who wants in on every hug in the house? Read on to learn more! Penny is an adorable Papillon mix I met after her family called me in for help addressing some of her behavior.

Diamonds in the Ruff - Shelter to Service

ATTENTION: We seek applicants to receive consideration for a match with a shelter dog which will receive individualized training and basic training prior to placement! Contact us if you wish to apply! 775-560-1992.

My Dogs Are Spoiled

Dr. Maxwell,

It has been several years since you saw George, not sure if you remember him. He has resource guarding issues and you helped us start working on them. I just wanted to let you know that this weekend George had a big resource guarding test and passed with flying colors! He obtained a dead baby bird and brought it into the house. All I had to do was tell him I would treat trade him for it and he didn’t even growl!

I want to thank you so much for everything you helped us with back then. We are still training him and he is getting better and better. I can’t imagine how bad it would have been if we didn’t get him started on a better road as a puppy. He might have eaten the whole bird just so we wouldn’t get it.

Thank you,

My dogs have an Instagram account and a website. They are past due for a page!

Teacher's Pet: The benefits of fostering an animal

Have you ever considered fostering a shelter dog or cat in your home? Read on to learn more about this charitable use of your time and resources! My first adventures in the world of observing and analyzing dog behavior occurred while I was an undergraduate in the mid-1990s. I was a psychology major and lifelong animal lover

CBS News

It sure takes a lot of tolerance to be a dog in today’s social world. Here’s our friend Pete with his dog - also named Pete - as they met Michael Bloomberg recently and shook... mouths?

While campaigning in Vermont yesterday, Michael Bloomberg met a dog – and shook its snout

Take a look at the dog we are currently fostering here at the Maxwell house! We love Geyser and are so happy to help fulfill the mission of Diamonds in the Ruff! For more on fostering a shelter animal, check out next Tuesday’s Teacher’s Pet column in The Roanoke Times.

DITR welcomes 8 month-old Lab "Geyser" to the program! He is a GREAT dog - loves kids, gets along well with other pets, is gentle, and enjoys learning. If you're interested in pursuing therapy work with a dog or are an individual impacted by disability looking for a great companion, please get in touch to apply. Stay tuned for more photos and videos as Geyser completes evaluation and training in preparation for finding his ideal match;-).

Teacher's Pet: How to choose the right pet for your family

In this month's column, Dr. Maxwell reviews some things to consider when bringing a new pet into the home. Many families bring pets into their home with little thought as to the match that particular species or breed will make for their lifestyle and interests. From hamsters to hounds

There’s a dog in there somehow, waiting for me to come to bed on this cold December night!

Santa Claus’ official veterinarian okays reindeer for flight - Veterinary Practice News

Good news! Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen have been cleared for travel by the North Pole’s veterinarian.

Good work Rista and Companion Animal Clinic!

Everyone at Companion Animal Clinic is very proud of Elvis! Before beginning no pokes, this handsome guy was very nervous to be here. He needed to be muzzled straight away and was very uncomfortable with the restraint involved in routine vet care to keep the technical staff safe. He has been working on learning to sit for subcutaneous injections in no poke appointments for about a month. Learning this skill is really important for him because he is uncomfortable with being held in place for procedures, but does not seem to be worried about the needle poke itself. Learning to sit in place for his own vaccines has allowed him to avoid that scary part of the vaccination process; it also gives him the power to communicate with staff when he is feeling overwhelmed and just needs a quick break to do a lap around the room. In a months time of working hard both here and at home, he went from being weary of allowing Rista to touch him at all; to calmly settling in front of Rista while she administered his Leptospirosis vaccine! This situation of being afraid to be held in place but not noticing the poke is very common in our canine patients; but their motivation for food and training makes it possible for us to teach them what we want them to do, rather than hold them in place. Is your dog scared when it's time to get vaccines? We would love to help your dog learn that vaccines don't have to be so scary, schedule a no poke evaluation today!

Teacher's Pet: Saying goodbye to a beloved pet

Dr. Maxwell lost her 13-year-old Sheltie mix, Addy, last month. In this month's column, she shares some thoughts on this loss. As I write this, I glance across my desk at its new decor — the paw-print patterned box containing the ashes of my dog Addy. We had to say goodbye

Pupper Doggo

Teacher's Pet: Too much TV time bad for pooches, too

Do you know a dog who reacts to television? In this month's column, Dr. Maxwell reviews some of the potential problems that can arise when dogs take TV a little too seriously! Cali was a Labradoodle with a lifetime obsession with the silver screen. Although she may not have gone so far as to audition for any starring roles, when it came

C diff sniffers: Scent-tracking dogs help hospitals track superbug More than 80% of the dogs' positive findings are in the general hospital environment.

Dog Lovers Club

Best family photo you’ll see today ♥️🐶🐾🐾🐾🐾

Teacher's Pet: How to say 'hello' to a dog you've just met

Ever wonder how dogs wish humans would say their salutations? Read this month's Teacher's Pet column to learn how you can be a better greeter in a dog's eyes. Dogs and humans have lived side by side for thousands of years, and obviously we all get along quite well for the most part. To a great extent, these peaceful

Teacher's Pet: When fast feline friends become fighting foes

When feline friends become fighting foes... learn more in Dr. Maxwell's August Teacher's Pet column. Leah and Andrew described how their two cats, 5-year-old littermates Ashe and Skye, had always been wonderful playmates, sisters and friends. Since coming into the home together as kittens, they


Border collies can herd ducks as well as sheep 👏😯

A North Carolina woman took her three dogs to a pond to play. Within hours, her pups had died from toxic algae

“Toxic algae blooms are more likely to infest bodies of fresh water when the weather is warm and waters are stagnant, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.” A doggy play date in a North Carolina pond turned tragic after three pups died from toxic algae. Now, their owners say they hope their loss will educate fellow dog lovers about the dangerous blooms.

Teacher's Pet: Drop that rock, Rocky!

"While many dogs will never consider a rock to be a thing of interest, others show some transient interest in scratching at or picking up a rock here and there while hiking or playing along a riverbank. For a few, this interest quickly becomes obsessive, and these dogs begin to focus on rocks as a primary play item while outside." Last month, I described how to teach a dog to drop something he has in his mouth. The Drop It command is useful during play, when we want our dog


Love training dogs?

Want to channel your passion into improving the lives of shelter dogs and people impacted by disability?

Diamonds in the Ruff of Virginia, a local non-profit organization, needs your help to bring dogs in need together with the people that need them most.

Our six week “Train the Trainer” course led by a professional Service Dog trainer starts Saturday 7/27/19 and is free of charge for those committed to joining our mission.

For more information about DITR visit us on Facebook at Diamonds in the Ruff - Shelter to Service and on the web at
Class space is limited. To sign up or to request more information please call 540-808-2202. Diamonds in the Ruff (DITR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that gives shelter dogs opportunities to become invaluable life partners to individuals and families impacted by disability through one of our three mission pathways: Emotional Support & Companion Dogs, Therapy Dog Candidates, Servic...

Dr. Maxwell’s dogs, Amelia the Rat Terrier mix and Thunder Dog the Catahoula mix, share a nap. 💕

You May Be Stressing Out Your Dog When people who own dogs are stressed, their dogs also get stressed, a new study suggests. It's another indication of how emotionally synchronized dogs and their humans can be.

Beware of the Big Bad, er, What, Exactly?

“The best practical advice is to look past whatever guesses may have been made about a dog’s breed makeup. Don’t leave small children alone around unfamiliar dogs of any breed and supervise interactions with the family dog. Whether the dog is yours or a stranger’s, dogs have teeth. Learn what a dog who has reached his limit looks like (which varies between dogs, just as it does with people). To live well together, individuals—whether of the same or different species—need to respect each other’s needs. Give dogs space to rest, to eat in peace, and freedom from stimulation that pushes them past their limits. At the present state of the science, that’s the best advice for peaceful coexistence.” A new study tries, but fails, to clarify what breeds of dogs are most dangerous.

Teacher's Pet: 'Drop it!'

Dr. Maxwell reviews how to teach your dog to "Drop It!" in this month's Teacher's Pets column. One wonderful option for owners interested in playing with their dog is tug-of-war, but tug toys (e.g., ropes or stuffed toys) have a bad reputation because some owners have heard

This Pitty pair and their pal Pinoe - a real love story in the end! ✨

I cannot praise Dr. Maxwell enough. Everything she did for us displayed both professionalism and compassion.

She was responsive to electronic contact, she was always on time and maintained excellent communication during our contractual sessions, and has seemed genuinely happy to hear updates post contract sessions. She presented us with a clear contract and an exact price with no surprises. After every session we received a summary of the appointment along with exercises/homework to do until the next session.

Dr. Maxwell listened to our story and our concerns before making any assumptions. She treated our family as a unique group with unique needs and interactions. Our story, briefly, is that we had two rescue dogs that were very easy keepers. Then my daughter found a stray, bloody, emaciated dog near where she lived in a small Texas town. Due to her job and travel, she could not keep her. I said she needed to be dog and cat friendly and we would take her. We met her in Tennessee and brought Linda home. Linda turned out to be neither dog or cat friendly and heartworm positive. I had my house set up like a rescue... there were gates everywhere and rooms set up with dividers. I was also working on muzzle training. After about 3 months we had reached a point where the dogs could be right next to each other with just a fence and no barrier gap, but I was afraid to take the next step of allowing them to freely interact. Here is where Dr. Maxwell came in. She listened to our story and set up an appointment within a very short time. She gave us practical tips and even when correcting things I was doing wrong, never made me feel bad. She always explained the why and taught what body language to look for, both positive and negative. I felt amazingly empowered. We realized Linda (our newest pup) was less about aggression and more about fear. She is now a loving, devoted member of the whole family, not just the human part. The dogs play, snuggle and love each other dearly and Linda has secured herself firmly as the annoying, lovable little sister. She still has issues, like being terrified of the dark, but we see it and create solutions.

I honestly don't know what we would have done without Dr. Maxwell. She gave me the tools and confidence to move forward.

Side Note: We had a different "trainer" (not a behaviorist) come before we found Dr. Maxwell. They put the dogs in the back yard and dropped leashes before assessing the dogs and obviously did not listen to us and our personal story. Their recommendation was to bring Linda to a shelter and not even try to integrate her into the family (not an option for us, especially two weeks into her arriving). It was a disaster for all dogs involved. I knew immediately when talking to Dr. Maxwell that she was different. She listened, asked questions, and then observed. You will not be disappointed in the results. She is worth every penny plus more.

Sincerely and with appreciation,

Stephanie Rigney (and Linda, Brady and Pinoe)
Troutville, VA

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4951 Preston Forest Dr.
Blacksburg, VA

General information

In addition to Dr. Maxwell, our team includes pet behavior consultants Lindsay Parenti, Kris Hopkins, Holly Byrd, and Jennifer Hudnall.
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Miller & Marshall Counseling Inc. Miller & Marshall Counseling Inc.
200 Professional Park Drive, Suite 1
Blacksburg, 24060

Receive the guidance you need from the two licensed and professional counselors and marriage and family therapists at Miller & Marshall Counseling Inc.