Veterinary Behaviour is a specialty of vet medicine dedicated to helping pets with mental health issues. These pets may have anxiety manifest as aggression with owners, unfamiliar people or other animals. Some suffer phobias and panic.
These problems can have arisen through a combination of genetics, environment and learning. Some pets are predisposed to develop mental health issues due to inherited traits, poor socialisation or lack of, or through the continued practice of the unwanted behaviour.
A Veterinary Behaviourist is the only professional able to fully assess the health of your animal and make a diagnosis. A diagnosis allows the Veterinary Behaviourist to construct an individual plan tailored to you and your pet’s needs.
All dogs will benefit from a management plan. Some will need to learn new alternative responses and may require that you work one on one with a trainer. Behaviour modification is about learning to feel a new way about something that was previously frightening. It is not about obedience. We can advise you who is most appropriate. We only recommend trainers who work with positive reinforcement techniques. There is no place for using aversive techniques or punishment in animals with mental health issues. Some dogs will require the assistance of medication to allow behaviour change to be more rapid.
Behaviour change is hard work – both for owners and animals. A Veterinary Behaviourist can work with you and provide instruction and support as you make this journey.
Sometimes an animal cannot be assisted because the problem is too severe or danger exists that cannot be managed. In this instance the Veterinary Behaviourist can assist you in making a humane decision to either rehome to a safer environment or euthanase.
A Veterinary Behaviourist can help you if you are unsure as to whether your animal suffers from a mental health issue or is merely in need of training.
Some animals may simply never have learnt some basic manners, or suffer frustration and boredom and develop their own work like destructive digging and barking. These issues are sometimes difficult to distinguish from true mental health disorders and a Vet Behaviourist can help you decide what course of action is required.
A Veterinary Behaviourist can assist you if your pet is:
- House soiling
- Has fear of people
- Has fear of other animals/places/events
- Is guarding high value objects/food/people
- Has shown aggression to people/animals
- Shows distress/barking when left alone
- Shows storm/thunder/noise phobias
- Displays destructive behaviour
- Has signs of cognitive decline
- Shows compulsive tendencies such as spinning/shadow chasing/self trauma