Behavior consultations are held for the prevention and treatment of behavioral
disorders in companion and other animal species. As of November of 2010, there are only 54 board certified veterinary
behaviorists recognized by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Dogs can suffer from congestive heart
failure, kidney stones and gingivitis. Cats can be diabetic, lactose intolerant or epileptic. Is it surprising that they can
have mood disorders? If you stop and think about it, you will realize that the brain is just another organ; it can have problems
just like any other part of the body.
Most cases that present to a veterinary behaviorist are pets displaying abnormal
behaviors. The problems are not due to willful disobedience, training deficiencies or vengeful pets. Fortunately for us, animals
do things for different reasons than we do. While some actions may look like revenge, spitefulness or defiance, once you understand
a behavior from the point of view of the specific animal species, a different explanation becomes clear. Social animals try
to live in harmony within a group, take the path of least resistance and don't hold grudges for days and months like we do!
Like us, they are individuals and what is valuable and motivating for one is likely to be different for another, even if they
are littermates. Any parent with more than one child will attest to how different their children can be!
animals is not about dominating them or teaching them who is boss; you do have to set rules but once you understand how learning
takes place, you can teach the rules without resorting to fear or pain as your coercers. Most patients with mood disorders
have such anxiety or lack of impulse control that they literally can't help themselves and use abnormal behaviors to protect
themselves against perceived threats, whether they are real or not. The owners have done a lot of things right yet their pets
turn out "wrong."
Before considering a behavior consultation your pet should receive a thorough physical examination
by your veterinarian to rule any problems that may be causing or contributing to a pet's abnormal behavior. If your pet is
given a clean bill of health a behavior consultation can come next.
Behavior consultations with Dr. JD usually last
about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The problem will be analyzed from the point of view of animal behavior, taking into consideration
the unique features of your household, your pet's routine, medical history and environment. A diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment
of your pet's behavior problem will be given to you. Appropriate behavior modification techniques will be discussed or demonstrated.
If warranted, use of medication will be discussed. A prescription for medication may be given during the consultation, but
your family veterinarian will perform any follow-up diagnostic tests that are needed.
The treatment of behavior disorders
takes time and commitment on the owners' part and no 2 treatments are exactly alike. The owners' follow-up care is a vital
part of the pet's treatment. Quick fixes seldom exist when you are treating complex problems and when they are used they seldom
lead to lasting change. Unlike what product marketers, TV shows and late night ads want you to believe, there is no "Easy"
button or silver bullet that gives you an instantly obedient and perfect pet.
You will come across many training styles,
systems and "methods," many named or trademarked by a person. As the name implies, a trademark is about protecting goods or
products being sold in a trade. Read carefully and between the lines, and always ask lots of questions! Dr JD is interested
in your pet's well-being, first and foremost. She continually revises her methods based on the latest behavioral and cognitive
research, even if that means discarding ideas she held near and dear. Above all, she will not compound the problem by making
your pet more scared or anxious, or by inflicting mental pain for the sake of getting results or keeping up a "successful"