How do we determine if our pet’s behavior is normal or not? How do we know when our pet needs to see a behaviorist? What is a behaviorist, anyway? These are common questions among pet owners who find themselves faced with problem behavior and are not sure where to turn. Often, people think the problem has to get really bad, almost intolerable, before going to a behaviorist, so they wait. They read a book, and if they are lucky, it is one of the good ones. Self-help has its place, but sometimes it is best to seek advice before the problem gets out of hand.
A behaviorist is someone with professional training and education in animal psychology and behavior. Ideally, a behaviorist should possess a graduate degree in a behavioral science, counseling, psychology, or related field. If you are looking for a behaviorist, consider asking other pet businesses such as veterinarians, groomers, trainers, and pet sitters for a referral.
Animal behaviorists specialize in house soiling, aggression, separation anxiety, depression, excessive activity, poor manners around greeting people, and other behaviors resulting from mental or emotional distress. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems, get help early on, if possible, to ensure the best outcome. If the behavior has been going on for a while, don’t give up hope; you can teach old dogs (and cats) new tricks and new behaviors.
Compliments of Yody Blass, an Animal Behaviorist and Director for Companion Animal Behavior, 703-729-9228, www.petbehaviorist.com.