Behaviour Training!


Tracy Irons, previous director of Adelaide Veterinary Behaviour Services and Director of VetCraft Designs, ran a behaviour training day with us a few months ago. One of our receptionists, Ella, has written a few words on some of the ways that it has helped her to understand our patients and make them feel comfortable in our clinic.

As a receptionist, I am usually the first point of contact for your furry friends when they come to visit. The importance of this role in making your pets visit as stress free as possible, became very clear after our behaviour training. While we, as receptionists, are not the ones wielding needles or poking fingers where they shouldn’t go, our pets generally can’t tell the difference. This is evident when a dog hides under the waiting room chairs or does a nervous wee (totally normal by the way! Please don’t feel embarrassed if your pet has an accident in clinic, we’ve seen much worse!). Prior to this training, it was my understanding that, like many humans dogs and cats crave comfort and touch in times of anxiety. Tracy explained to us that often if an animal is hiding, it means they need space (hence the hiding!). In these cases, it is best for us to leave them alone, offer for them to wait outside, suggest to the vet that they might want to do the consult outside or even in our back reception area. I found this so helpful because I previously found myself unintentionally ignoring these signs and trying to comfort with treats and praise. Instead, now I like to communicate with the owner about how “Fluffy” is doing today, would it be okay if I gave them a treat, are they comfortable with pats (if it is not visibly obvious). Similarly, if a cat is hiding in the back of their cage and being vocal, they’re not really going to benefit from a curly haired lunatic staring in their safe space, talking in a baby voice. It is best to cover them with a feliway sprayed blanket (calming pheromone spray) and try to make the waiting room as calm as possible. We want this experience to be a positive one as your pets care is our primary goal. If there is something that your pet needs, feel free to tell us!

While understanding and working with each animals individual needs is helpful, Tracy taught us that sometimes it is just not enough. Some issues can be solved through behaviour training, while other issues like general anxiety need clinical treatment. This is where medication can come in handy! Many owners struggle and stress over bringing their animal to the vet and possibly will put it off to avoid the experience. It doesn’t have to be this way! Medication can calm your pet and make the consult a positive experience for everyone. I have had so many thankful clients that wish they had used medication earlier and probably a few dishevelled vet nurses who would say the same! It can also be a great long term treatment of anxiety and other behavioural issues. It is often hard for an owner to differentiate between training and behaviour problems so coming in for a consult with the vet can be helpful. If we find that the issue can benefit from training then we can refer you to a behaviour specialist. If we find that your pets issues are clinical then we can discuss medication. Call us on 0297972555 for further information!

– Ella