Behavior Counseling

Care for every aspect of your pet's health

Animal behavior problems play a significant role in the breakdown of the human/animal bond in families that own pets.

Many animal behaviorists focus on treating problems after they have developed. At the RVMC, we also can help you avoid problems before they occur by advising you how to select the right pet for your family and establish proper behavior expectations as a preventative measure.

We can help you understand the behavioral and physical differences among different dog and cat breeds so you can select the pet that is most appropriate for your lifestyle.

Your first stop should always be to your local veterinarian to rule out any physical ailments that may be causing behavior problems. For example, cats with urinary tract infections may urinate outside the litterbox. Dogs that have physical discomfort may become aggressive when handled. In some cases, once the medical condition is resolved, the behavioral problem may persist, requiring the assistance of an animal behaviorist.

It is important to understand that not all "normal" animal behaviors are acceptable to owners. It is helpful to understand your pet's natural instincts, which will allow you to provide outlets for normal behaviors that you and your pet enjoy. Appropriate management and regular training will help you raise an emotionally well-balanced companion whose company you will enjoy for years.

Many animal behavior problems involve fear. Dogs and cats fear the unknown. It's critical to introduce your pets early on to a variety of people, situations, places and other animals. Early exposure to a variety of experiences will help them develop proper social skills and avoid fears and aggression later in life. Understand your lifestyle needs and prepare your pets accordingly. For example, board them in daycare if you travel frequently; introduce them to children and elderly people even if they're not currently a part of your life; and introduce them to a variety of other animals and environments.

Always introduce new experiences in a positive manner and remember that patience is a virtue. Be prepared to allow your pet ample time to acclimate to new experiences.

© Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine