Behavioural problems in animals are not always inherent. They can often have underlying medical causes that can be treated. At Rural Vets, when a presenting animal displays severe behavioural problems our skilled Veterinarians will first obtain a full history from the pet owner. This will be followed by a full examination—sometimes requiring blood or urine tests—to accurately diagnose whether there is a medical cause to the problem. Both the history and the results of the examination by the veterinarian feed into the diagnosis and any remedial action that might be suggested. Many behavioural problems are quite complex involving the combined effects of many factors, including your pet’s environment and learning. Genetics can also predispose youre pet to some behaviours. However, the your pet expresses those behaviours will depend on your its early socialisation and training.
Changes in the environment may contribute to the emergence of behavioural problems. For example, changes in routine, a new member of the household (pet, baby or spouse), moving house, or the loss of a family member or pet can have a dramatic impact on behaviour. Any medical or degenerative changes associated with ageing may cause the pet to be even more sensitive to these environmental changes.
Learning also plays a part in many behavioural problems. Early training and socialisation is essential to have a happy, well-adjusted pet. Punishment of behavioural problems often worsens the situation and it is very important that professional advice is obtained as soon as the problem appears to effectively resolve it. Positive reinforcement is the preferred method for changing behaviour, however this also needs to be used carefully as it can encourage undesirable behaviour if used incorrectly.
How are behavioural problems treated?
All our veterinarians have undertaken substantial training in the identification and treatment of the causes of behavioural problems in animals of all sorts. When it comes to your pet's behaviour, it is extremely important to seek the early advice of a qualified veterinarian or animal behaviour specialist.
Changing problem behaviour requires commitment on behalf of the whole family, as everyone with whom your pet interacts will be responsible for encouraging desirable behaviour. For some problems, such as excessive barking, escaping, aggression or displays of separation anxiety, it may be beneficial for the treating veterinarian to see the pet in its home environment. In such cases, a home visit may be required. Some cases may also require medications alongside the new training techniques to get the best outcome.
For this and other behavioural problems we advise you to make an appointment with one of our veterinarians.
What can we do to prevent behavioural problems arising?
Remembering that prevention is better then cure early socialisation and proper training of a puppy can help prevent most common behaviour problems; if you have a puppy or are considering getting one soon, please call and ask about our 'puppy preschool' programme.