Behaviour

Our new Behaviour Referral Service is led by Sagi Denenberg DVM, DACVB, Dip. ECAWBM, MACVSc (Behaviour) MRCVS.

Cases we can help with include:

Canine behaviour problems: including fear and anxiety, noise phobias, repetitive and compulsive disorders and aggression.

Feline behaviour problems: including house-soiling, urine marking, fearful behaviour (avoidance), eating disorders (such as excessive sucking or chewing) and repetitive or compulsive behaviours.

As well as helping to prepare for new arrivals (new animals or babies), helping clients to engage with and settle a new rescue animal and much more. 

Behaviour consultations

Our clinic provides behaviour consultations with Dr. Denenberg who is currently one of only six board certified veterinary behaviourists practicing in the UK. We require that you and your vet complete a history questionnaire and return it to us at least 48 hours prior to your consultation. These questionnaires provide us with as much of the background information we may require to make a diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Although space is somewhat limited, we suggest that you attend the consultation with your pet and up to three additional people, who might be involved in the management and behaviour modification programme (e.g. other family members, trainer). We strongly suggest that you bring video, recordings or pictures of the problem and your environment if available. Please do not feed your pet on the day of the consultation, and bring along your pet's favourite treats.

Please note, consultations for behaviour are available Monday-Friday and are by appointment only.

FAQs

What is a veterinary behaviourist?

There can be major differences in the background, training and expertise of those providing behavioural advice. The veterinary behaviourist must first be a graduate of an accredited veterinary school. This insures a comprehensive background in anatomy, neurology, physiology, medicine, and pharmacology, as well as the type of medical problems that might have an effect on the behaviour of the pet. The veterinary behaviourist must also receive training in normal species typical behaviour, comparative animal behaviour, the principles of learning and behaviour modification, abnormal behaviour, psychopharmacology and the effects of disease on behaviour, and must work for at least two years seeing cases under the mentorship of a board certified behaviourist. Publications, presentations to other veterinarians, case histories and a four-part examination are all then required to achieve board certification (see www.ecawbm.com or www.dacvb.org for details). 
In short, the veterinary behaviourist has a unique combination of education and training, clinical expertise and medical knowledge to be able to diagnose and design a treatment programme for your pet’s behaviour problem.
To find out more about the difference between a veterinary behaviourist and other behaviourists, and the difference this can make in how your pet is treated, read this article from Dr. Sagi Denenberg. 

What is the fee for a behaviour consultation?

The cost is based on the type and severity of the problem.

Initial consults include full history taking, assessment, review of medical record and physical exam, and initial management. The cost for initial consultation is £500.

After the initial consultation there will be follow up visits. Each follow up visit is approximately 50 minutes long and designed to review the progress of you and your pet and to continue managing the treatment. The cost of a follow up visit is £175. The number of follow up visits required depends on the problem, the pet, and other factors that will be discussed with you during the consultation. We also offer follow up bundles depending on the case. Each case is individual and the management must be tailored to your needs.

If you cancel at least one business day prior to your scheduled appointment you will not be charged.

 

What services do you offer and how long is the consultation?

  • Canine behaviour problems: For most canine behaviour problems including fear and anxiety, noise phobias, repetitive and compulsive disorders and aggression, a consultation will generally last two hours or longer but some problems such as house-soiling or unruly may require 90 minutes.  
     
  • Feline behaviour problems: For most common behaviour problems of cats including house-soiling, urine marking, fearful behaviour (avoidance), eating disorders (such as excessive sucking or chewing) and repetitive or compulsive behaviours, the consultation will generally require approximately 90 to 120 minutes, with some aggression cases requiring longer time.
     
  • New Introductions: Bringing home a new baby, introducing pets to other pets, moving, bringing a new pet into your home with existing pets or integrating households, a consultation of approximately 30 to 60 minutes will help you with the transition and help you to prevent or prepare for potential problems. We offer a reduced cost for these consultations.
     
  • New pet consultations: If you are obtaining a puppy or kitten or are a first time pet owner, we offer a ‘new pet’ consultation of approximately 30 to 60 minutes to provide you with behavioural guidance on problem prevention, setting up to succeed, reward based training and how to deal with emerging problems such as house-soiling, destruction, stealing and play biting. We offer a reduced fee for these consultations.
     
  • Canine selection consultations: If are considering obtaining a new dog, we offer a 30-60 minute selection consultation to help you choose a pet that is appropriate for your needs (breed, age, sex, source) as well as advice on preventing and dealing with common behaviour problems. We ask that you narrow your choice to up to five breeds before the visit. We offer a reduced fee for these consultations.
     
  • Unruly behaviours and emerging problems: If you have a recently adopted pet that is difficult to control, hard to train or has some recently developed problems such as house-soiling, chewing, digging, scratching, stool eating, barking or garbage raiding, these consultations will generally require about 60 minutes and have reduced fee.
     
  • Clinical trials: We often serve as a site for clinical trials for a variety of drugs or products that might be useful aids in treating behaviour problems. During your visit you may be offered the opportunity to participate in a drug or product study, which would be supplied at no additional charge.
     
  • Legal consult/expert opinion.

 

What is a behaviour consultation and how might it help my pet’s problem?

There are four components to a behaviour consultation:
  1. Diagnosis: In order to explain why your pet might be exhibiting his or her problem(s), we must first determine the cause as well as any factors that might be reinforcing or aggravating the situation. Our diagnosis will be based on the information you provide in your questionnaire, the information you provide at the visit, and observation of your pet’s behaviour at our clinic. We also advise that whenever possible, you collect a video or recording of the problem so that we can best assess the pet's actions as well as your interactions. If there is the possibility of an underlying medical problem, additional diagnostic tests may be recommended.
     
  2. Assessment: The next step is to determine the prognosis, which is a determination of what might be achieved and how this can be accomplished to best suit your needs. Although we hope we can come up with a treatment programme that will resolve your pet’s problem, it is not always practical once we determine the diagnosis, the cause of the problem, as well as your needs and expectations.
     
  3. Management: Next, we will help you to implement a treatment programme that is suited to your pet and your household. Often by achieving a better understanding of canine and feline behaviour, and how pets learn, you will be able to better understand how to manage the problem. A treatment programme generally involves behaviour modification techniques based primarily on positive reinforcement and shaping (i.e. what to do and what not to do) and environmental management (i.e. adjustments to your environment to better manage the situation). We might also suggest the use of products such as a head halter, body harness or clicker to help modify your pet’s behaviour, or in some cases medications, pheromones, or other natural products. Demonstration of products or techniques, videos or handouts may also be utilised in our consultation. At the end of the visit we will provide you and your veterinarian with a printed summary of our suggestions and appropriate handouts or other support material.
     
  4. Follow up: The final aspect of the consultation is the follow up on the case, so that we help to guide you through the programme and monitor the pet’s response. For most canine and feline cases, a follow up visit will be scheduled within two to four weeks. Follow up visits are 50 minutes long. Telephone support for minor adjustments or modification to the initial program will also be available.

Is Dr Sagi Denenberg registered with the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)?

Dr Denenberg is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviourists, which is the highest level of qualification attainable in the field of veterinary behaviour and can only be achieved by veterinary surgeons. He is also a Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine, which is the highest European level of qualification and again can only be achieved by veterinary surgeons. Diplomates have undergone an extensive, well-defined training over many years within the fields of animal welfare and behavioural medicine, assuring high quality service to pet owners and to referring veterinarians. For more information, visit: www.dacvb.org and www.ecawbm.com
Dr Denenberg is also a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine. In order to be considered for inclusion on the List of RCVS Specialists, an individual must have achieved a postgraduate qualification at least at Diploma level, and must additionally satisfy the RCVS that ‘they make an active contribution to their specialty, have national and international acclaim and publish widely in their field’. For more information about Specialist status, visit: www.rcvs.org.uk/education/specialist-status Dr Denenberg is one of only five RCVS Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine practising in the UK.
The APBC represents a network of behaviour counsellors that have undertaken education in behaviour therapy. To join, applicants require education to Honours Degree standard or higher in a biological or behavioural science, or, from March 2016, to have become a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB). The APBC is not a regulatory body, and one does not have to be a veterinary surgeon or nurse to join.
Dr Denenberg is not a member of the APBC as his qualifications are of a significantly higher level than most other APBC members. Some pet insurance policies state that they will only cover behavioural referral to APBC members, in an attempt to protect clients from those with to formal qualifications in the field. If you find this is your policy wording and would like a referral to Dr Denenberg, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss this is more detail with your insurer.