Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to commonly asked questions

Why have I been referred to a veterinary behaviourist?

Just like your GP might refer you to another doctor, trainers and veterinarians may suggest you see a veterinary behaviourist. This is because they have detected a problem in your pet which they are unable to help with.

Some problems may seem minor, but might suggest more problems are to come. The earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis.

Remember, experienced veterinarians and trainers have seen many animals and know how to recognise behaviour that is unusual. Usually these are not problems that can be resolved through simple training.

What is a behaviourist?

Quite simply, a behaviourist is someone interested in behaviour.

There is no regulation to prevent people with no formal qualification calling themselves a behaviourist. A veterinary behavioural consultant, or veterinary behaviourist is a qualified and registered veterinarian who has undertaken post graduate study in veterinary behaviour or behavioural medicine.

Those with membership to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinarian Scientists (MANZCVS, previously MACVSc) have undertaken additional training and assessment by examination in the field of veterinary behaviour.

Those with Fellowship to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (FANZCVS) or Diploma of the American College of Veterinary Behaviour (DACVB) have been assessed through examination, supervised by a specialist in multiple cases, and met other rigorous criteria to achieve specialist registration in veterinary behaviour.

Read more here about how a veterinary behaviourist can help you and your pet.

What animals can Katrina assess?

The bulk of Katrina’s work is with dogs and cats, however she has experience with the behaviour of many species including birds and horses, livestock, animals in captivity and in the wild.

Contact her to discuss your problem.

Should I see a trainer or vet first?

Behaviour problems are due to mental and sometimes physical problems. Obedience training is not the same as behaviour modification.

Even very well-trained, obedient dogs can develop behavioural problems as they are separate issues. If you think your pet's problem is not a mental problem and you want quality training advice, then click here for advice on how to find a trainer you can trust to bring out the best in your dog. It isn’t necessary to get a referral from your veterinarian, but a thorough health check first is a good place to start.

Blood tests are often required to ensure your pet is a safe candidate for behaviour medication and to rule out internal disease. If aggression or possible dementia is the problem, then ruling out any painful disease processes such as arthritis or dental disease which can cause irritability and altered activity levels is important.

Any problems with toileting will require a urine test and possibly a faecal test. Any problems involving over-grooming or self- mutilation will also require thorough medical examination of the skin or body area of focus.

How much will a consultation cost?

This will depend on the complexity of the problem, how far Katrina has to travel, and what additional resources are required.

Contact Katrina for an estimate.

How long will it take to fix the problem?

Many behaviour problems are never “fixed” or cured, but the majority can be improved dramatically through good management.

A lot of this will depend on your commitment, how long the behaviour problem has been present, how severe it is, how well the animal responds to behaviour modification and medication.

How long does a consultation take?

Usually the first consultation takes 1 to 3 hours, depending on the nature of the behavioural problem.

Can you give any guarantee of success?

Animals are complex beings and their behaviour is constantly changing in response to their environment, age, mood, previous experiences and health. Because so many variables influence behaviour, including their genetics, it is impossible to guarantee success.

I live too far away to see Katrina. What can I do?

Contact Katrina to discuss options; such as a phone consultation, or to see if she is planning to travel north in the near future.

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