How do I know if I need help?
If you think you need help with your pet, then you do need help. Every situation and family-pet relationship is different. Veterinary Behavior Solutions can help you determine whether your pet needs redirection, intervention, and/or specialized treatment to work through the current difficulty. We are happy to talk with you prior to scheduling an appointment to determine what type of help is best.
Why a veterinary behaviorist?
A veterinary behaviorist is best equipped to holistically evaluate your pet from both the medical and behavioral viewpoint. A veterinary behaviorist has a four year medical degree in veterinary medicine (a DVM or VMD) and has completed 2-4 years of additional specialty training (a residency) including treating hundreds of behavior cases under the mentorship of a behavior specialist. A veterinary behaviorist also is required to demonstrate advanced knowledge in learning theory, ethology, psychopharmacology and neurology. This allows a veterinary behaviorist to design and help implement specialized behavior treatment plans that are most beneficial for your pet.
What types of problems does a veterinary behaviorist treat?
A veterinary behaviorist is trained to treat all types of behavior issues including: aggression toward humans and other animals, fear, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, house soiling issues, unruly behaviors such as jumping, scratching, attention-seeking, vocal behaviors such as barking, litter box issues, etc.
How is a veterinary behaviorist different from an obedience trainer?
Many obedience trainers are wonderful instructors who help pets learn skills necessary in daily life (such as basic commands and manners), work with some unruly behaviors (such as jumping and getting on furniture) and help clients with some mild behavioral issues. The field of obedience training is a rapidly changing area, but has historically had no standard for knowledge or skill requirements. Some trainers have pursued additional education and training to help them understand the science behind training. But few obedience trainers have the knowledge or experience to evaluate and diagnose a complex behavior problem, assess medical contributing factors (such as metabolic, hormonal, neurological , nutritional and/or orthopedic abnormalities) and design a unique treatment plan based on the most current science in animal behavior. A veterinary behaviorist is a specialist who is trained to evaluate and diagnose very complicated behavior problems and design and implement a treatment plan that benefits both the pet and the client. (If you would like to find a qualified trainer to work with your pet, please see http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/default.aspx for recommendations on how to evaluate a trainer, their education and experience.)
Do I need a referral prior to scheduling an appointment?
You do not need a referral from your veterinarian, but it is best that you have a current relationship with a family veterinarian. After the consultation, information regarding the diagnosis and treatment plan will be shared with your family veterinarian. You may be asked to return to your family veterinarian to address any medical issues contributing to the behavior problem.
What happens at a behavior consultation?
An initial behavior consultation typically takes about two hours. During the first half of the behavior consult, Dr. Strickler will discuss the problem with you and ask more questions to clarify the problem. She will evaluate any potential medical contributions to the behavioral issue. She will observe your pet’s behavior and your interactions with your pet.
During the second half of the behavior consult, Dr. Strickler will review treatment options based upon her diagnosis and prognosis and then recommend an initial treatment plan that best fits you and your pet. This plan will include any medical recommendations and/or interventions, specialized behavior modification exercises, environmental modifications and cognitive and physical enrichment recommendations.
Dr. Strickler will also demonstrate any training techniques that will be necessary to utilize at home and work with you and your pet to begin training as indicated.
What happens after the behavior consultation?
Our goal at Veterinary Behavior Solutions is to teach you to teach your pet. You have the most opportunities to modify your pet’s behavior. The initial behavior consultation fee includes 3 months of follow-ups by phone and/or e-mail. You will receive a written plan to guide you when working with your pet. It is recommended that you keep a journal of what you are doing with your pet and the progress the pet is making. Dr. Strickler will review the journal weekly and make recommendations for the next step of the treatment plan. You may schedule rechecks at any time to work on specific techniques and/or for re-evaluation.
My pet’s behavior problem has been going on for years. Is there still hope?
YES! It is always best to address a problem as soon as it presents itself, but it is never too late to address an issue. If the behavior has gone on for an extended period of time, it may take longer to modify or change the behavior. Contact us to help you begin the process of change.
If I see a veterinary behaviorist, do I have to give my pet medication?
Absolutely not! Medication is one tool in a big bag of tools that are used to treat behavior problems in our pets. Our approach at Veterinary Behavior Solutions is to create the best holistic plan for your pet, which includes special behavior modification techniques, environmental modifications (as necessary) and cognitive enrichment/challenge to ensure that your pet is behaviorally satisfied. Medication is sometimes beneficial to help control your pet’s emotional response to a situation while the pet learns a new response. Decisions to utilize medications or supplements are always made together with the family.