William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get an appointment with the Behavior Service?
Our service receives patients by appointment Monday through Friday. To make an appointment contact the Small Animal Clinic.

Do I need a referral from a private practice veterinarian in order to be able to make an appointment with the Behavior Service?
No. However, we highly suggest that your primary veterinarian continue to take part in all aspects of your pet's health and well-being. We will provide your veterinarian with a full case summary of your pet's visit to the Behavior Service.

How long is the appointment with the Behavior Service?
The duration of the appointment will take approximately one- and one-half to three hours, depending on the complexity of the case.

What is involved in the appointment?
You will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire in the waiting room concerning some background information on your pet. Since this is a teaching hospital, a veterinary student will be intimately involved in your appointment. You will then be escorted to the service, where we will ask a detailed history of your pet, which includes some basic information, your family's relationship with your pet, and complete details of the behavioral problems. The clinician and the student will then discuss the behavior problem of your pet. The clinician and student will discuss with you the behavioral diagnoses, and outline an individualized treatment plan for your pet. You will be given detailed, individualized written instructions outlining this plan. Our appointment fees are based on our expertise, individualized treatment plan, length of appointment, and telephone follow-up, and are comparable to those of other veterinary specialists.

Why can't I get free advice over the telephone?
Since we are veterinarians that are making diagnoses, and spend a considerable time with you and your family, we are unable to give treatment recommendations over the telephone.

How do you differ from dog trainers?
We are veterinarians with with advanced training in clinical animal behavior. We also participate in veterinary continuing education seminars that highlight the most recent advances in animal behavior. In addition to this, we are involved in the latest clinical research on companion animal behavior and behavior problems.

Will the clinician prescribe medication for my pet's behavior problem?
Medications are never the sole answer for an animal's behavior problems. We will prescribe them as an addition to behavior therapy if the doctor determines that it is necessary to treat your pet.

Who should be at the appointment?
All involved family members should make an attempt to be at the appointment, so that all of the involved people can give input into the history of your pet's behavior problem, as well as be present for the discussion of the treatment of the problem.

If your pet's problem is fighting with another household pet, we ask that no more than two animals be present at the appointment without prior approval from the clinician on the case. A videotape of their interactions reveals a lot about their problem (see below on how to set up the video sessions).

What should I do prior to my appointment?
There are some things that you can do to help prepare for your appointment

First and foremost, exercise safety precautions if your pet is aggressive. Do not put your pet into situations which are potentially dangerous to itself, yourself, your family, other people, and/or other animals.

You should keep a journal of the following:

* Interactions with family members and other pets.

* Triggers of the problem behavior.

* What your response is to the problem behavior.

* If your pet is urine marking or eliminating inappropriately, determine the areas and count the number of times per day or per week your pet marks or eliminates there. It helps to draw a diagram of your houshold as well.

* It may also help to write out some information for yourself so that you don't forget to tell us during the appointment.

* Bring all applicable medical records from your veterinarian.

* If it seems appropriate to help us understand your pet's behavior, you should bring a videotape of your pet and its problem to your appointment (see next).

How do I videotape my pet?
As mentioned previously, exercise safety precautions if your pet is aggressive. Do not put your pet into situations which are potentially dangerous to itself, yourself, your family, other people, and/or other animals.

* You may wish to make a videotape prior to your appointment for several reasons. One is to visualize where your pet spends its time, so that we can better understand your particular situation. Another is to see your pet's relationship between itself, your family, and other household pets, if applicable. Certainly it is often helpful for us to see the problem behavior.

* If you do not own a videocamera, perhaps you can borrow one from a friend. Alternately, you can rent one for a minimal price from such places as Rent-All Center.

* The length of the tape does not need to be more than a few minutes, unless you are videotaping your pet when you are out of the house.

* It is unnecessary to clean or tidy your house for the video.

If you videotape your pet with potential separation anxiety or compulsive disorder:
Do not videotape your pet if you feel that your pet will harm itself. Set up a videocamera in your house WHEN YOU ARE NOT HOME. Place the camera to view the most area of the house as possible where your pet is allowed when you are gone. You can also make a brief videotape of your pet when you are with it, especially if it displays the behavior in your presence.

If you videotape your pet that is fighting with other household pets:
Again, EXERCISE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS. There should be no chance of injury from any of your pets to the other(s). If necessary, they should be separated by leash and/or behind gates or glass doors. We can determine quite a bit by body language between the pets.

If possible, videotape your pet in normal situations, such as play and resting, on walks, in your yard, and while interacting with different family members.

If you videotape your pet that is aggressive to people:
Do not put your pet into the situation. We just would like to visualize your pet's environment.

If you videotape your pet that is displaying urine marking or inappropriate elimination:
The important aspect of this is to get a layout of your house, your yard, and any vantage points that your pet may have of the outside. Display the areas where your pet has eliminated. If possible, catch your pet in the act.