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About

Susan Nilson and dog Daisy
This is me with beautiful Daisy. We found her starving on the street in Dubai when we were living there. We didn’t plan to keep her but she fitted in so well with the other three and brought fearful Louis out of his shell (plus, she left the cats alone—bonus!), What could we do? She was the smartest dog I’ve ever known. She trusted no one and made sure they knew it. But she trusted us. It was both an honor and a privilege.

From international business journalist to animal behavior professional to pet parent of multiple rescue cats and dogs. When I move countries, they come too!

Susan Nilson and cat George
This is the lovely George, who was one of our first cats. We adopted him with his sister Loulou who was 2 years old. They were absolutely terrified of us. George, in particular, spent his first few weeks hiding in a cupboard, facing the wall, trying to pretend he was anywhere but there. But slowly, they both learned to trust us and we developed the most incredible bond. He and Loulou were the reasons I first began my journey into animal behavior, especially when Loulou suddenly stopped using the litter tray and started peeing around the house!

Hello! I’m Susan Nilson

I’m a qualified canine and feline training and behavior professional. I share my life with the fabulous six rescue cats and four equally fabulous rescue dogs I’ve acquired along the way while we were living in Dubai, Los Angeles and Finland.

At one stage, we had 10 rescue cats and five rescue dogs, two of whom didn’t get along. Fun times!

Over the years, we picked up and fostered many other stray dogs off the street and found them lovely new forever homes, although we still ended up keeping loads of them, because how can you not fall in love with each and every one of them? Oh well…

My journey into animal behavior started when one of our first-ever cats, Loulou, suddenly started peeing around the house for no apparent reason. Up until that point, she had always used the litter tray.

What could be the reason for the sudden change? Oxalate crystals in her bladder, according to the vet, made urinating painful. So she learned to associate the litter tray with a painful experience and started doing whatever she could to avoid it.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it! The problem was that once the crystals had been treated and the pain went away, the peeing around the house behavior didn’t.

Why? Loulou had learned that peeing outside the litter tray brought her relief from an unpleasant experience. Of course, she was going to keep doing it! Again, it makes perfect sense.

I started investigating to try to get to the bottom of this challenging new world we lived in. If you’ve ever lived with a cat who pees around the house (a very common feline behavior problem, by the way), you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Thus began my education in animal behavior, and I ended up doing a diploma in feline behavior under the watchful guidance of Prof. Peter Neville at the Center of Applied Pet Ethology.

Somehow Peter then managed to persuade me to expand my studies into canine behavior, and so I ended up learning all about dogs and dog training too.

It was a huge learning curve for me, and I started volunteering at local shelters to get as much hands-on experience with dogs as possible.

Needless to say, I ended up bringing home some of the more “difficult” ones who I knew I’d be able to help with my newfound skills.

Over the years, rescues started to contact me directly to take on the really fearful or shut-down cats or dogs because so few people would be willing or able to put in the time to work with them.

All of those animals have been my greatest teachers and I am incredibly proud of every single one of them.

If you’ve adopted a rescue pet, I salute you and thank you. Rescue pets—or any rehomed pet for that matter—can be challenging because we don’t always know much about their background and they are often extremely stressed. But that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome, because they most certainly are!

And living with more than just the standard one or two pets (like I do) can present even more challenges. But it’s totally doable.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, and we’ve also learned a thing or two. And now I’m here to share both my experiences and my professional expertise with you so I can help you better understand your pets and make life calmer and happier for everyone.

So let’s get started helping our pets live their best possible lives. Every pet deserves a second chance!

My Professional Credentials & Affiliations

COAPE logo

PPAB logo
Illis ABC Animal Emotions
Pet Dog Trainers of Europe logo

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