When you have a pet with behavior problems, finding help can be key for turning the tables and helping to make everything better. It can also be very daunting to begin searching for the help you need. Many pet owners I’ve spoken with have noted that it was finding the right help for them and their pet that helped them the most, especially when they were in the most intense period of dealing with their pet’s behavior problems.

These tips can help you identify when you need help (and watch for the upcoming post on where to find help). I’m a big fan of the more support, the better!

When should you seek help?

1. As soon as you feel you might need it!

If you’ve gotten a new pet and (of course!) have your hopes and dreams of how that pet will become a part of your day-to-day life, the emergence of a behavior problem (like separation anxiety or aggression) can be a very jarring experience. Pet owners that I speak with often say that the advice they would give to someone else in their situation is to get help right away – as soon as they notice the very beginning of a behavior problem. In doing so, you’ll also be able to get professional feedback about what is going on with your pet and suggested next steps for helping to manage the problem(s).

2. When you are feeling overwhelmed or don’t know what to do:

It is totally normal to feel overwhelmed by a pet’s behavior problem, and it is totally normal to not know what to do. And, unfortunately, it’s also totally normal to feel isolated and lost about how to find help. The great news is that there are professionals in the fields of veterinary behavior & behavior and training who are educated and informed about these issues, and they are available to help us understand what is happening with our pets and advise us on how we can best help them. The help is out there and available!  In this post E’Lise Christensen DVM Diplomate ACVB provides some recommended educational resources.

3. When there is a safety concern (or a concern that there could be a concern!)

Safety first! I’ve heard many stories of owners who have gone through the heartbreaking experience of witnessing their pet bite another animal or a human. It is a horrible thing to go through, and there are waves of emotions that often come after an experience like that. Getting professional help for the pet after a situation like this can help owners better understand and deal with the problem, and it is also supportive to both the pet and all of the affected people affected. I’d also suggest making sure you have emotional support for yourself as well! I’ve also spoken with owners who have been worried or expressed concerned that there could be a situation where there might be a bite incident, and have sought professional help as a preventative strategy.

4. When you just love geeking out about animal behavior

Many owners have told me that having a pet with a behavior problem led them to learn more about animal behavior than they ever would have with a normal” pet. Ask many people involved in the behavior and training field why they chose that work – it was often experiencing behavior problems with their own pet that led them to want to learn more! And there are some great online courses, books, and info about the science of animal behavior out there for those who want to dive into that knowledge base!

Here are some resources on where to find help.

What prompted you to reach out for help?

Kristin Buller is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Certificate in Veterinary Social Work. Kristin lives in Chicago with her husband and their dog, Ruby.  For more information on Kristin, visitwww.kristinbuller.com.