Forums » Behavior

A dog trainer's relationship with a veterinarian

    • 405 posts
    September 18, 2018 2:48 PM EDT

    Question submitted as part of the Crash, Boom, Bang: Update on Canine Noise Phobia Treatments webinar:

    I am a dog trainer working with a noise fearful dog and ever since a major incident on July 4, the dog now refuses to go outside and has become sensitive to other noises like crinkling paper. The family veterinarian is refusing medications.  What is your recommendation?

    Answer provided by Julia (Julie) Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB:

    I am very fortunate to be able to work with a myriad of fantastic non-veterinary behaviorists, animal trainers, as well as veterinarians.  Veterinarians and behaviorists / trainers can make a great team, but a good relationship can take effort and an understanding the other’s perspectives and concerns. Some veterinarians are not comfortable with these medications and are apprehensive about possibly causing an adverse reaction in the patient.  A veterinarian cannot legally rely on any other non-medical professional for advice, despite any credentials that non-veterinary professional may claim to have in the area of behavioral pharmacology.  Perhaps this client can ask the veterinarian why medications are not in the plan despite the dog’s frequent and intense distress?  I suggest you try to respectfully inform the veterinarian on the severity of the problem and your concerns for the dog in the form of a written report.  Or would the veterinarians be willing to take a conference call with you and the client to get a better understanding of the problem?  The veterinarian may feel medications are not appropriate for medical reasons and that was not conveyed to you through the client.  However, if the vet feels drugs may be appropriate but isn’t familiar enough with behavioral medicine to make a recommendation, there are other options such as consulting another colleague in practice, a behaviorist at a veterinary college, or one of the many private practice vet behaviorists who conduct distance consults with veterinarians.  You may continue to suggest medications to the client if you feel the welfare of the dog is poor, but I caution you against recommending the client leave veterinarian.  If you handle the problem correctly, you may gain a valuable ally and source for future referral in this veterinarian.