Dr Dennis Wormald, BVSc(hons), PhD(Melbourne), MANZCVS(Veterinary Behaviour)
The ABAdog® website was founded in 2017, by veterinarian and dog behaviour researcher Dr Dennis Wormald. His qualifications include a PhD at The University of Melbourne on canine anxiety, and membership by examination with the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Sciences veterinary behaviour chapter. This high level of theoretical and practical knowledge in dog behaviour provides an assurance that the information provided on the ABAdog website will be humane, contemporary and effective. Dr Wormald has been using the ABAdog behaviour scan with his dog behaviour clients to provide reports. Since releasing the tool for use in early 2021, other behaviour vets around Australia are now using it for their dog behaviour consultations. General practice veterinarians are also using this technology, to provide behaviour advice for clients who cannot book in to see a behaviour vet or specialist in veterinary behaviour.
Dr Wormald's publications
The values surrounding the treatment of behavioural issues in dogs are of compassion and prevention. No dog should unnecessarily experience fear, anxiety or panic attacks. Nor should any dog suffer aversive punishment as a result of these emotions. ABAdog® aims to improve communication of canine behaviour conditions between owners and vets. This will lead to better identification of dogs suffering from mental health conditions, and encourage owners to seek referral or medication where appropriate.
ABAdog's values surrounding the treatment of behavioural issues in dogs focuses on encouraging a compassionate and prevention-centric mindset. No dog should be unnecessarily forced to endure fear, anxiety or panic attacks, and should never have to suffer aversive human punishment as a result of these emotions. Trusted groups who unanimously share these values include "fear free accredited" behaviour professionals, and registered Veterinary Behaviour Specialists to name a few. However, the terminology that some behaviourists or dog trainers use to describe themselves can be confusing or misleading. People claiming to be a "dog trainer", "dog behaviourist", "dog whisperer" or even "dog behaviour specialist" may have no qualifications to earn them that title. Unfortunately many of these people still believe in using fear to control dogs. Psychologically damaging "solutions" to dog behaviour problems are presented as a quick fix through the use of things like "static collars" (painful) and "corrections" (fear/pain). While these techniques may work well for resilient dogs, the most seriously affected dogs are always suffering from the dog equivalent of a mental health illness. These dogs are very fearful or anxious and often misunderstood as being naughty or disobedient. The use of pain and fear to "fix" these dogs is like using pain and fear to "fix" a person suffering from anxiety or depression. Unfortunately the very people using these techniques rarely understand how to accurately recognise fear and anxiety related behavioural problems in dogs. Because ABAdog is designed to prevent the recommendation of such techniques, any behaviourist consulting on this platform will be guaranteed to be providing safe and humane advice in their report.