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)



I hope to answer some general questions that you may have regarding veterinary behavior medicine. There are also links to organizations or individuals that promote humane handling and progressive care recommendations for pets large & small.

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!

Working with 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" image.






Advice cannot be given over the internet! Requests for diagnosis or treatment will regretfully have to be declined.

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

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