There are four components to a behaviour consultation:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.