Animal Behavioural Medicine
- Is your dog continuously barking, escaping, licking itself, following you around, getting upset when you leave home, being destructive, having problems toilet training or getting overly excited?
- Does he/she growl or bark at strangers of other dogs, or fight with another pet in the house?
- Is your cat having toileting issues, fighting with your other cat/s or vocalising?
These are just a few of the signs that may indicate your pet has a behavioural problem.
It is important to remember that not all behavioural issues are due to lack of training, anxiety is the number one cause for behavioural problems. Anxiety can be displayed with very subtle signs to severe signs which can make living with these pets very stressful for all concerned.
Animal behavioural problems can be as complex as those with humans and taking the time to understand the reasons behind the problem can often lead us to a positive outcome for all.
Many people think that if your pet has a behavioural problem the need more training or should see a dog trainer. But, simply compared, if your child suffered from an anxiety disorder or any other mental health condition, one wouldn’t expect their teacher to be able to treat them. The same is for your pet, your obedience school instructor is there to teach obedience. .
With the guidance and expertise of Dr Linda Davidge who is our resident behaviourist we are able to offer a more comprehensive behavioural consultation service.
Linda has many years of experience in both general practice and behavioural medicine, and whilst she is not a specialist, Linda is highly regarded amongst the behavioural specialists in Victoria.
Linda feels there is nothing more rewarding then being able to help owners understand their pets ‘special’ needs and in doing so, improve your pets quality of life.
What is involved with a behavioural consultation
First we require you to fill out a behavioural questionnaire. Please try to fill in as much information as you can about your pet and family and reactions to other animals and people. The more information we have at the beginning the better.
After this has been received and assessed we will make an extended appointment. Please put aside between 0.5- 1.5 hours and try to bring as many family members involved with your pet as possible. (Time will be assessed once the behaviour form is submitted). You will be seeing our veterinary behaviourist, similar to seeing a human psychiatrist, who will be able to formulate a plan which may involve managing your pets environment and the way in which he/she responds to their stress, and administer medication if needed. Since our patients are unable to vocalise their problems, we then need to educate their owners in understanding their issues and teach them how to manage and change how their pet reacts and behaves.
Unfortunately in animal medicine, there are no safeguards regarding advice given for behaviour in animals. This means that unqualified and untrained people can set themselves up as a ‘behaviourist’ and give out advice. Methods which subscribe to the theory of pack order and dominance are against most scientific principles of animal learning and at times has been found to be seriously detrimental to the health and mental wellbeing of animals. Unfortunately there are still many people out there who subscribe to these outdated methods of training.
If your pet has been practising some of these behaviours for some time, it may take a lot of dedication and patience to change their ways. Medication alone is not enough. Cases can be complex to manage and require consistency, routine, time and hard work but the outcome is worth the effort in the long run.