All Veterinarians Need to Be a Resource for Pet Training

September 5, 2018

Even if you don’t the specific answer to a behavioral modification issue, as a veterinarian you should know referral resources for your clients.

Even if you don’t the specific answer to a behavioral modification issue, as a veterinarian you should know referral resources for your clients, says Amy L. Pike, DVM, DACVB, chief of the Behavior Medicine Division at the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia.

"I think veterinarians need to be the, you know, primary source for all thing pet, and that includes training. And unfortunately, we don't get a lot of behavior in veterinary school. You know, I didn't get it when I was going through school, and so we don't know a whole lot. But your client should be able to come to you and ask about, you know, how do they train their pet. And if you don't know, have the resources of where to refer them to. So, know the positive reinforcement trainers in your area, attend a class, even partner with trainers that they can use your space after hours you know for training classes, it's a good practice builder as well.

I think that one of the easiest thing that veterinarians can recommend to owners is management of behavior, because management can go a long way to solving a lot of behavior issues, including aggression. So, if you can identify what the triggers are, say a stranger coming in the house—and that's a big trigger for aggression—one easy thing is to say well when people come over kennel the dog, then answer the door. And that can really do a number of good things. Number 1 the dog doesn't have to interact with that person, which it's telling us by its behavior that it really doesn't like to do that, and so that's going to help the patient, but it's also going to keep the owner out of hot water, and liability that the dog is not going to bite somebody in their household. And so, that's a very, very easy step to take.

So, oftentimes you can you can do a lot in a very short time by just going over management, and then saying you know what we need to delve into this more if you want to go sort of that extra step of behavior modification and then make that separate appointment for that."