Behavioural problems can be due to environmental causes, medical causes, or both.

Our veterinarians will investigate behavioural problems by obtaining a full history and conducting a full examination (your pet may require diagnostic testing to rule out underlying medical conditions) to accurately diagnose the problem. 

Behavioural problems are often the combined effect of many factors, including your pet’s environment and learning.

Genetics can also predispose your pet to some behaviours, however the expression of those behaviours will depend on your pet’s ongoing socialisation and training.

Changes in the environment may contribute to the emergence of behavioural problems. For example, changes in routine, a new member in the household, moving to a new house, or the loss of a family member can have a dramatic impact on behaviour.

Any medical or degenerative changes associated with ageing may cause the pet to be even more sensitive to these environmental changes.

Learning also plays a part in many behavioural problems. Early training and socialisation are essential to have a happy, well-adjusted pet. Punishment of behavioural problems often worsens the situation and it is very important that professional advice is obtained.

Positive reinforcement is the preferred method for changing behaviourhowever this also needs to be used carefully as it can encourage undesirable behaviour if used incorrectly.

How are behavioural problems treated?

There is no simple cure for any behavioural problem, so be careful when taking ”helpful” advice. Many people with a destructive dog are given the advice – from friends or family – to get another dog to fix the problem, however, they may end up with two destructive dogs.

It is very important that the cause of the problem is addressed, not just the symptoms of the problem. For example, don’t chain a dog up because it is digging; find out the reason for the digging and address the situation accordingly.

For example, if you are spending less time with the pet because you have a new (human) baby, your dog may be bored as you no longer have time to spend with him/her. Making the time to ensure your pet is stimulated will help reduce it boredom i.e. get a dog walker or family member to play with the dog each day for a few months until you are back on your feet.

When it comes to your pet’s behaviour, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian or animal behaviour qualified specialist.

Changing problem behaviour requires commitment on behalf of the whole family, as everyone your pet interacts with will be responsible for encouraging desirable behaviour.

For some problems such as barking, escaping, aggression, or separation anxiety, it is beneficial to see the pet in its natural environment, thus a home visit may be appropriate. Some cases may also require medications alongside the new training techniques to get the best outcome.

For this and other behavioural problems we advise you contact us to make an appointment with one of our veterinarians.