Soraya V. Juarbe-Diaz, DVM, DACVB, CAAB
What Exactly is a Veterinary Behaviorist?
Is a Veterinary Behaviorist Like a Trainer?
What Problems Can Dr. JD Help With?
What To Expect During A Behavior Appointment
What owners have to say about Dr JD
About Dr. Juarbe-Diaz
Mai Tai's Story
Behavior research
Animal Fun Facts
Why Punishment Is Not Behavior Modification
Links to Cool Organizations
Can You Refer Me To A Good Trainer?
Gold Paws & News (1/12/11)

FAQs About a Consultation with Dr. JD

How can the doctor really know what is going on if my pet doesn't show the behavior in the exam room?

The behavior history is very comprehensive and is designed to give Dr JD a good picture of what the problem is and what your pet's environment and daily life is like. That is why it is so important to fill it as thoroughly as possible. Dr JD's evaluation of the problem begins even before the date of the consultation: by the time you meet with her she has read the behavior history at least twice. When your pet is seen at the behavior consultation, Dr JD will take into account the altered environment when assessing your pet's behavior.

"I'm afraid that the doctor will recommend euthanasia"

Every attempt is made to resolve a pet's behavior problem. Recommendations for euthanasia are rarely the first course of action, unless Dr. JD considers that the risk of severe injury to the owner or others is high. Dr. JD will present as many treatment options as are safely available.

"I don't want to hear another vet say that the problem is my pet's breed and that there is nothing that I can do about it."

While it is true that some dogs have been bred for specific traits, problems occur in all breeds and in mongrels ("mutts") and each case is treated individually. Dr. JD will point out breed characteristics, but that does not mean that the problem cannot be worked with.

I don't want to use medication to treat the problem - that's just masking the signs"

When anxiety or impulsivity are present, they can interfere with learning. Medication is not intended to "mask signs" or "dope up your pet" any more than high blood pressure medication is used to "mask" the signs of hypertension. If your pet is sedated (doped up) or doesn't act like itself, that would constitute an unacceptable side effect and the dose would be reduced or the medication changed. If needed, medication will be recommended, but if you do not want to use it, you can still follow the rest of the treatment plan though progress may be slowed down considerably.

"When can I expect my pet to be cured"

Problems that are presented to veterinary behaviorists are usually complex, and involve slight to severe deficiencies in the ways in which the brain functions at the molecular level. Like many diseases, the problems can require long term management and are mostly controlled, and few are actually "cured." Dr. JD will be better able to give an idea of prognosis once she carries out a full behavior consultation.

"Isn't there some drug you can give my pet to change its behavior?"

If we could give a pill to change behavior, we would have empty prisons! Even in the fields of psychiatry and psychology, such a magic bullet does not exist. While medication has its place in the treatment of some behavior problems, it is seldom given by itself but in conjunction with behavior modification. It also can take time to find the drug that will be most helpful for a particular pet, just as with people. Good behavior is not obtained overnight and it does not come out of a bottle. GIVING MEDICATION TO YOUR PET WILL NOT DO THE WORK OF BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION FOR YOU.

"Is my pet too old for help or treatment?"

The age of the pet is not as important as how long the problem has been going on. Obviously, the sooner you implement treatment, the better the odds of achieving improvement.

"What are her success rates? What problems seem to be more successfully treated?"

This is a question that is difficult to answer because a lot depends on the home environment and how well the owners follow recommendations. Long-standing problems tend to be more difficult to treat, along with cases with multiple problems or dogs with compulsive disorders.

Important things to keep in mind
* Treating behavior problems involves a time commitment on your part
* Different treatments (behavior modification techniques, medications and dosages) may need to be tried over time, changed according to your pet's response. A 4 month follow up period is included with the visit; if you do not use it you will loose it.
* There is no "cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all" treatment for any given behavior problem.

If any of the above give you reason to pause, please reconsider your visit to the veterinary behaviorist as realistic expectations are important when committing to behavioral treatment of your pet.

2006-2011 Soraya V. Juarbe-Diaz, DVM, DACVB

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