Forums » Behavior

Trainer Referrals for Separation Anxiety

    • 178 posts
    May 25, 2016 10:32 PM EDT

    This question was asked by a participant in our recent webinar on Separation Anxiety:

    Q: Would it be valuable to have a dog trainer to refer to who is well-versed in separation anxiety to support their clients in the everyday treatment protocols?

    • Moderator
    • 68 posts
    May 25, 2016 10:57 PM EDT

    Absolutely!  Having a skilled behavior modification trainer can be amazingly helpful for these guys.

    Finding a really knowledgeable trainer for these cases can be difficult, so you really, really have to know who you are referring to.  

    Remember, knowledge of applied behavior analysis and normal canine behavior are required but not enough for the trainer supporting clients with these patients.  There are many more trainers doing separation anxiety work without really knowing what they are up to than there are trainers who have a sophisticated knowledge of treatment options.  

    Treatment for separation anxiety has many possible ingredients, but not all of them are needed for each patient and some are contraindicated on an individual basis.  Trainers that understand the details of working with separation anxiety are invaluable and worth the search.  

    Some veterinary behaviorist employ trainers or veterinary technicians who are specialized in veterinary behavior to help support clients.  That can create a really dynamic environment and exceptionally efficient behavioral improvement.   

    It is CRITICAL whatever trainer you are working with NOT RECOMMEND SPECIFIC MEDICATIONS for ANY behavior problem.  Even very skilled trainers can be tempted to do this, especially if the veterinarian asks them what to use.    

    It is CRITICAL that veterinarians NOT ASK TRAINERS FOR MEDICATION ADVICE.  That is abdicating our responsibility for the animal's overall health and totally unacceptable.  In addition, it encourages trainers to practice medicine without a license and is dangerous for animals and for those trainers. 

    No matter how often a veterinarian uses psychoactive medications, he/she has way more in-depth knowledge of the patient's health than a non-veterinary trainer ever could.  Checking drug interactions, knowing the metabolic pathways each medication works on, understanding how a psychoactive medication may alter other disease processes the patient is experiencing...well those are just a few of the things veterinarians must assess before prescribing any medication.  

    Veterinary school is 4 years long AFTER undergrad for a reason.  No number of classes on psychopharmacology can make up for not having that in-depth, overall knowledge.  

    Truly though, a great relationship with an amazing trainer can really add to any veterinarian's practice.  I've become good friends with so many extremely skilled trainers.  Working on cases with them is a joy.  Except when they recommend specific meds.  Then I get very, very antsy. 

    Now if the trainer IS a veterinarian-->  Go for it!  :)