Improper reactions from pet owners may make behavior problems worse.
We all know that pet owners should consult with their veterinarian about behavior issues. But do your veterinary clients know they should come to you? Do your clients know that improper reactions to problem pet behaviors can make the problem worse?
Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB, says owners should avoid physically punishing the pet.
"This only increases a pet’s distress and anxiety," she said. "Plus, it can lead to much more serious problems such as aggression."
Encouragement, praise, or fostering can also be unproductive as owners are not giving their pets instructions for correct behavior. According to Dr. Horwitz, it can increase frustration and anxiety in an animal. Instead, you should teach your clients to show their pet what correct behavior looks like and offer alternative options to properly address the pet's specific behavior issue.
Owners should also try to avoid showing panic, anxiety, and anger during exhibits of problem behavior. "If you are upset or anxious about your pet’s behavior, this will also make your pet more anxious," Horwitz said.
Free booth at a pet fair near you
Horwitz is the spokesperson for the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express 2012 Tour sponsored by the ACVB and Ceva Animal Health. The six-city event in Chicago, Ill., New York City, Kansas City, Mo., Dallas, Atlanta, Ga., and Los Angeles, aims to reinforce the role of veterinarians in addressing pet behavior issues. Free educational booths are available to local veterinarians who register. For more information, go to www.KeepTheLoveAliveTour.com.