Behaviour can make or break your relationship with your pet

Samantha Coe from Mayfield Vets (in Mayfield and Heathfield) is often called upon to help with common pet behaviour problems she encounters in both practices.

She points out behavioural problems are often very difficult for people to deal with on their own and can sometimes completely destroy the bond between pets and people. Indeed, behavioural issues are one of the most common reasons for the rehoming of animals or even the euthanasia of a pet. Rescue centres are often full of dogs and cats with problematic behaviour.

She said: “At my veterinary practices we take behavioural issues very seriously indeed. We understand that if your dog or cat behaves in a manner which is unacceptable to you it can be very stressful for both you and your pet. Such behaviour can stretch the bond between you and your pet to breaking point at times and the joy of pet ownership may be diminished, or even overwhelmed, by the unacceptable behaviour your pet engages in.”

She points out behavioural concerns should be addressed as quickly as possible, since the longer a behaviour goes on the harder it is to eradicate. At Mayfield Vet they try to prevent behaviour problems occuring by giving good advice and guidance to all owners of new puppies and kittens. If young animals are socialised and trained early on they are less likely to show behavioural problems later in life.

If a pet is presented to them when it already has a behavioural problem then vets will take the time to find out about what may have caused the problem in the first place and why the behaviour is continuing now. Often they find that there may be some underlying reward which the animal receives as a result of the unwanted behaviour even though the owners may be unaware of this, since what the pet may perceive as a reward might be a punishment in our eyes.

Samantha explained: “Once we fully understand the unwanted behaviour we can begin to help with the process of gently bringing the pet back towards acceptable behaviour once more. This can be a slow process, with lots of commitment from the owner being required. Often this is the part of the process which goes wrong, simply because people do not have the time to give their pet the behavioural therapy which they need. We always do our best to help in this situation.”

And she points out one of the main advantages she has in the practice is the ability to offer the most up-to-date behavioural medications to make the process easier for both the pet and their owner. Often such medications are anti depressants or pheromone products; they help a great deal in many cases. They also use herbs and homeopathy for patients; these too can be of benefit to pets with behavioural issues.

She concluded: “As a vet I work very closely with our behaviourist and together we work with the human-animal partnership to get the most favourable outcomes for you and your pet. Dealing successfully with problem behaviour in animals is immensely rewarding, so if you would like help with your pet’s behavioural issues you may like to contact us on 01435 874787 to discuss how we may be able to help.”