Why have I been referred?
Sometimes a veterinarian or a trainer will suggest referral to a Veterinary Behaviourist for a particular behaviour problem. This is usually because they have recognised a behaviour of concern and want it investigated by someone who is properly qualified to do this, similar to your GP sending you to an eye or skin specialist when you have a problem.
Some problem behaviours may seem ‘not that important’ but can be pre-cursors to more serious problems, or may indicate an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Your trainer or veterinarian has had experience with lots of different dogs and cats, and can recognise behaviour that is different or unusual. Just like people, your pet may have an excessively high level of anxiety, or may have abnormal or inappropriate responses to other animals, people or noises.
Shouldn’t a good trainer be able to fix the problem?
Just like a school teacher can identify that a child has a problem that needs further investigation and help, a good trainer can identify when an animal’s responses are abnormal or when an animal is overly anxious. Good trainers help owners and animals develop skills for living together. Good trainers do not diagnose and treat psychological problems in animals- this is the role of the Veterinary Behaviourist.
Veterinary Behaviourists and trainers often work together. Some trainers have extra training so they are qualified to work with animals with problems and their owners. The trainer helps you to learn how to implement the behaviour modification program prescribed by your veterinary behaviourist.
Trainers are always welcome to visit the Melbourne Veterinary Specialist Centre with their clients. Please mention this when you are making your appointment.
What is involved in a Behaviour Consultation?
A behaviour consultation is a chance for you to discuss your pet’s problems and to start helping them. Before you come to the appointment, you need to fill in a behaviour history form. This form is available in the download centre.
It can be helpful to bring along footage of your pet when they are doing the problem behaviour. However, DO NOT put yourself, anyone else, your pet or someone else’s pet at risk to film the behaviour. Footage or photographs of damage can also be helpful to us in understanding the problem.
The veterinary behaviourist will sit down with you and work through the history form with you to get more in depth information. During this time, they will also be observing your pet and how it copes in a new situation (the consultation room). They will then explain their diagnosis and develop a treatment plan with you for your pet.
Behaviour consultations take time and you need to be present for them. Some of this time will be spent discussing possible outcomes, devising a specific behaviour modification program and helping you understand why your pet does the things they do.