Behavior Consultations

 

TVBS’s goal is to assist you in understanding your pets and developing a more compassionate, harmonious relationship with them.  Even normal animal behavior can pose a serious strain on the quality of your relationship with your pet. 

TVBS will see any behavior problem in any species.  While Dr. Haug sees primarily dogs and cats, she also can assist with behavior issues for horses, birds and other species.  Common problems include aggression, separation anxiety, storm/noise phobia, compulsive disorders, and unruliness.  Some animals may also be afflicted with true neurophysiologic or neurodevelopmental problems such as hyperkinesis or impulse control disorders.  A growing body of research proves the close tie between behavior problems and physical disorders (pain, inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, etc.) in both animals and humans.

A large portion of our caseload consists of dogs with aggression disorders.  While aggression is a serious problem, no patient should be considered hopeless.  While some dogs pose great risks for rehabilitation, every patient merits an evaluation by a qualified professional before heartbreaking and potentially inappropriate decisions are made.

 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING MY APPOINTMENT?

What to Bring

Please dress comfortably for your appointment.  Bring any training equipment that you use with your pet on a regular basis.  We also highly encourage you to bring a short (less than 10 minutes) video clip of your pet’s problem behavior if this can be obtained safely.  We will be giving your pet food rewards for good behavior while he/she is here.  If your pet requires a special diet, please bring along some treats that your pet especially likes. 

What We Will Do

During your appointment, the history questionnaire will be reviewed in detail.  A physical examination will be performed if it can be done safely and without overly distressing your pet.  Additionally, recommendations may be made for medical diagnostic tests for problems that may be related to your pet’s behavioral issues.  On occasion, some direct behavioral assessment tests may be performed; however, these are not intended to aggravate your pet, but only to provide some clarification of your pet’s behavioral responses if such is needed.  You may elect to decline such evaluations at any time if you feel uncomfortable with the process.  

What Will Help

Resolution or control of behavior problems may include components of any of the following:

  • Diet, nutrition and exercise
  • Changes in the home environment
  • Safety management steps to prevent injury to other people and animals
  • Basic training exercises
  • Behavior modification and relaxation exercises
  • Pharmacological support

How Long Is The Consult

Your consultation will include discussions of all of the above as deemed appropriate for your pet’s situation.  Due to time limitations and the volume of information to cover, discussion of some of these topics may be postponed until your recheck appointment.    Demonstration of some techniques will be done if your pet is comfortable enough to participate in them in the clinic environment.   The initial consultation will take approximately 1 hour for cats and 1.5 to 2.5 hours for dogs.  (Recheck visits typically last 30 to 60 minutes.)

Medication Evaluation

In some cases, medication may be recommended as an adjunct to your pet’s behavior modification plan.  Medication is not used in a cavalier manner, and the pros and cons will be discussed with you during the consultation.  Medication alone will not resolve your pet’s behavior problem.   Some pets may show initial response to medication alone, but in the absence of concurrent environmental change and behavior modification, the vast majority of these patients relapse in the future.

Most behavior problems typically have complex causes, and therefore, no simple quick solutions.  Although some animals show improvement very rapidly, long-term alterations in your pet’s behavior will take time. For this reason, rechecks are strongly encouraged to ensure that you and your pet continue showing satisfactory progress.  The degree of improvement in your pet’s behavior will depend in part on your individual pet, the duration of the problem, and most importantly, your commitment and ability to implement the suggested treatment plan. Specific outcomes cannot be guaranteed.