How long does it take to get an appointment with the Behavior Service?

Our service receives patients by appointment Monday through Friday. We can typically schedule a new patient within the week. We do not offer next day appointments. To make an appointment contact the Small Animal Clinic (530)752-1393.

Do I need a referral from my veterinarian to be able to make an appointment?

No, in fact many clients find us from web searches to word of mouth! However, we highly recommend that your primary veterinarian continues to take part in all aspects of your pet's health and well-being. Your veterinarian will be provided with a summary of your appointment.

My pet bit someone. Should he be euthanized?

In the case of a pet with a bite history, we establish a risk assessment based on the unique circumstances for your pet, explore ways that you can reduce that risk through management, and discuss your pet’s potential through therapy. Successful treatment is possible in most cases, thus recommendation of euthanasia is rare. If you the bite was addressed by Animal Control or the Police, please provide a copy of the incident report.

Why can't I get advice over the phone?

To properly assist an owner having difficulty with their pet, we look at medical history, environment, family influence, previous training and most importantly the pet. It's impossible to diagnose a pet appropriately from just a phone call since no behavior occurs in a vacuum and most "problem" behaviors are often a symptom of a larger underlying issue.

Will we be able to fix the problem in one appointment?

Some problems can be solved quickly and efficiently while more complex behavioral issues may require follow-up or recheck appointments. In some cases, the additional appointments may be with our Technician/Trainer rather than a more involved visit with the Behaviorist. We are generally able to provide a better estimate of the number of visits that may be required after we complete the initial appointment.

Will my dog grow out of his anxious/aggressive behavior?

Dogs who are scared often attempt to avoid the people places, situations and things that frighten them. Symptoms include trembling, avoiding, hiding, tucked tail, low body posture, whining and attempts to escape. If forced into a situation where the “scary thing” can’t be avoided, some dogs will resort to the use of aggressive expressions (barking, lunging, growling, snarling, snapping and biting) as a method to keep things away. None of these behaviors will improve without appropriate treatment. Without intervention, these behaviors have a high potential to worsen over time.

How do you differ from dog trainers?

Veterinary Behaviorists:

  • Have advanced training in clinical animal behavior, as well as medicine, enabling us to prescribe medications if needed.
  • Clinicians are required to participate in continuing education seminars which highlight recent advances in animal behavior.
  • We're involved in the latest clinical research on companion animal behavior and behavior problems.
  • We're governed by the Veterinary State Board for ethical and medical choices that we make for our patients.
  • We have vast experience in many species of animals and typically treat difficult or aggressive animals, anxiety and phobia issues.

Dog trainers:

  • Come from various backgrounds and range of experience. Some trainers seek professional education based on modern reward-based training, while others may use antiquated techniques.
  • There is no requirement for licensing or certification.
  • Continuing education is recommended, but not required.
  • They have no governing body to address complaints in application of training methods or to address poor outcomes.

Will you put my dog on medication?

Many of our patients are treated with behavior exercises only, without additional assistance of drug therapy. Medications are never the sole answer for an animal's behavior problems, but can be helpful for dogs with fear, anxiety or compulsive disorders who are suffering from a decreased quality of life due to the extent of their condition. We'll discuss the benefits, side effects, and duration of the treatment so you can decide how you'd like to procede with your pet's care.

Who should be at the appointment?

All involved family members should attempt to be at the appointment. This provides a better overall view of the behavior and interactions with each family member and individual insight needed for designing a treatment plan. A group discussion also ensures a consistent message regarding the treatment.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Ideally, think about/write down a list of:

  • Ensure your pet's hungry since we'll be using food for training (unless your pet has medical issuers which requires a feeding schedule).
  • If your pet is picky, has a special or restricted diet - please bring treats with you.
  • Any training equipment you've use regularly.

How do I record video of my pet? Why is it important?

Video provides the Clinician visualization of how your pet spends the day, so we can appreciate your individual situation. We’ll also see the relationship between you and your pet, the family, and other household pets if applicable. Do not put your pet into situations which are potentially dangerous to itself, you, your family, other people, and/or other animals. Electronic devices for recording may include: Webcam, Drop-cam, security monitor, phone, PC, Tablet, camera or video recording device.

  • If you do not own any of the above, try to borrow one from friends or family.
  • The length of the recording doesn't need to be more than a five minutes, unless you demonstrating the pet's behavior when you are leaving the house.
  • Record areas your pet frequents - such as the backyard, feeding areas, sleeping spots, crating area, etc. You can even record your pet on a walk.
  • If your pets are fighting in the household or towards people: Only provide a recording it there is no chance of injury! If necessary, use a leash and/or child gates or glass doors for a physical barrier.
  • If you have a cat with elimination problems, video can confirm which cat has the problem, where it’s happening and if there’s a trigger which drives the behavior.


  • Set up a recording device to record you just prior to leaving and after you actually leave.
  • If your pet is free in the home: Direct the camera at the door you went through when leaving. If you crate your pet, please provide one video with your dog crated, and ideally one of the pet in a restricted area outside of the crate.
  • Leave the house and drive away. Your dog will know if you’re hiding out!
  • Record your dog home alone for 20 minutes.

How do I get the video to you?

Email video prior to your appointment.  Posting Options:

  • Youtube: Post your video as “unlisted” rather than "private", then email us the link. Click here for a tutorial.
  • Drop Box - send us your link to the video
  • Google Drive (sent via email)
  • Vimeo - again, be sure your video isn't listed as "private"
  • If all else fails, please bring the device used to record the video with you to the appointment.

What is your success rate? Can you guarantee results?

The outcome or prognosis for a pet is determined by many factors. Underlying medical conditions, the number and severity of behavioral concerns, and even the personalities and commitment of household members. No one can guarantee a pet’s problem behavior can be fixed or resolved. We enjoy great success with our patients, but because of the complexities mentioned there’s no way to predict an exact time frame or outcome. Our assessment helps set realistic expectations and assists you to establish achievable goals.

How much time per day will I spend working on training with my pet?

Typically, not much time at all! Most behavior modification exercises require five to ten minutes three times daily. You’d be surprised amount of improvement you can see with a few changes to your daily interactions with your pet.  You should plan to spend at least 15-30 minutes per day working on behavior modification in order to see improvement.  Of course, the more committed you are to working, the faster and more robust your improvements!