Behavioural issues need addressing

Behaviour Problems and Consultations

Behavioural issues and behaviour problems can be very distressing for both your pet as well as the owners. We take these issues very seriously as they can also affect the bond between your pet and their human owners and ultimately affect their quality of life.

Through detailed consultation, we are able to help pet owners to help determine the cause of the problem and a suitable solution to help manage it. In some cases, a referral will be required to see a veterinary behaviour specialist externally, but in most cases we are able to assess the pet’s condition and provide a diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

It is important to adopt an up-to-date approach to small animal behaviour as many previous techniques and theories have been outdated last century. This includes the dominance theory where previously it was thought that dogs try to be ‘leader of the pack’ in the household, which has since been disproven. There are some shows still televised today with this outdated theory which creates confusion in the way that dogs should be trained. It is not possible to ‘train a dog out of a behaviour problem‘ as quite often, the dog has been born with the anxiety underlying the issue which needs to be addressed medically. Only then can training facilitate a solution. Refer to the website www.dogwelfarecampaign.org for further information.

It is vital to differentiate between problem behaviours and behavioural problems. That way, we can determine whether you need to see our dedicated vet nurse behaviourist, Katie Bedrossian or if a veterinary assessment is required to determine whether there is a clinical anxiety or medical problem affecting your pet’s behaviour.

Behavioural Problems

Problem Behaviours

Problem behaviours are considered normal but include undesirable behaviours in a pet such as:

  • jumping up
  • digging
  • puppies crying at night
  • puppy biting/mouthing during play
  • furniture scratching
  • pulling on the lead
  • chewing
  • mild on-leash anxieties
  • anxiety when visiting vet or groomer
  • mild separation anxiety
  • puppy toilet training issues

These problems are generally behaviours exhibited by dogs and/or cats that are within the normal boundaries of behaviour but that are undesirable to live with so need to be dealt with.

A consultation with Katie Bedrossian, our vet nurse behaviourist can be extremely valuable in finding a solution to these problem behaviours.

Initial consultations are $99/hour with follow up consults $49/half hour and can be booked in by calling the practice on 9988-0198 and requesting Katie Bedrossian for the consultation. For more severe problems listed below, a veterinary consultation is recommended first.

Behavioural Problems

Behaviour problems are abnormal and need a more detailed intervention and management plan, starting with a veterinary examination. Behavioural problems in pets include:

  • severe separation anxiety
  • excessive barking (which can be a sign of anxiety)
  • noise phobia (storms, fireworks)
  • excessive crying/whining (which can be a sign of pain or discomfort)
  • aggression (interdog, people, objects)
  • urine spraying in cats
  • urine marking in dogs
  • circling/tail-chasing (which can be a sign of neurological disease)
  • excessive grooming/licking/pulling out fur (which can be a sign of skin disease)

For pets that urinate indoors (dogs) or outside of the litter tray (cats), it is important that a urine sample be tested for infection as this must be ruled out before addressing the behavioural problem. So all pets that are not going to toilet in the correct place should start with a veterinary assessment first to rule out an underlying medical problem.

It is common for pets with anxiety to be trialled with an anti-anxiety medication. A blood screen will need to be run first to ensure there are no underlying medical problems prior to the prescription. This can be done in the initial consultation. Occasionally sedation is required but in most cases, the results can be obtained on the same day using our in-house laboratory.

Your vet will then liaise with Katie Bedrossian, our vet nurse behaviourist who will devise a behaviour modification plan in conjunction with the veterinary recommendations and help you and your pet achieve a happy and manageable outcome. Veterinary behaviour consultations are usually 40-60 mins and are $159. Behaviour consultations cannot usually be thoroughly undertaken within a routine 15 minute time frame so please request a vet behaviour consult when booking in with your pet on 9988-0198.

Puppy

Qualifications

Katie Bedrossian – Vet Nurse Behaviourist

Katie is a fully certified and practising veterinary nurse with extra qualifications in behaviour:

  • Diploma in Advanced Canine Psychology
  • Delta Society Canine Good Citizen Instructor
  • Membership of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

Katie has attended the annual APDT conference each year since 2005 and has over 10 years experience in dog training and behaviour management. She has also fostered 10 dogs for Monika’s Doggie Rescue, all of whom have found perfect forever homes.

Katie also runs our puppy school on site at Turramurra Vet Hospital for over 5 years.

She comes highly recommended by all of our vets and is very well-respected within the profession.

Dr Gretta Howard – Veterinarian

Dr Gretta first became interested in veterinary behaviour in 2009 where she attended a week long conference specificially on veterinary behaviour, presented by world experts in behaviour including Dr Kersti Seksel from Sydney Animal Behaviour Services.

After the conference, Dr Gretta joined the Australian Veterinary Behaviour Interest Group (AVBIG), which is part of the Australian Veterinary Association and has attended numerous seminars and webinars run by experts in the field of veterinary behaviour.

Dr Gretta is currently available on Thursdays, and alternate Fridays and Saturdays. She works closely with Katie Bedrossian with her behaviour cases. Sometimes referral to a veterinary behaviour specialist is required which is assessed on a case by case basis.