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"My Trainer Said My Dog Should Be on Prozac!"

If you've heard this advice from your dog's trainer, run don't walk. Here's why.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
2-minute read

Most general-practice vets don't have much education in behavior. Sadly, many don't have any real interest, either. Behavioral medicine is a complex specialty, though, so someone prescribing in this area should:

  • either be board certified (a "board-certified veterinary behaviorist") or have taken continuing ed courses in behavior
  • take a complete behavioral and medical history
  • do baseline and follow-up lab work
  • be willing to consult with a vet behaviorist (hey, even the vet behaviorists consult each other!)
  • have (and share with you) a clear idea of how treatment should go
  • know side effects, drug interactions, and what effect the meds may have on any existing health issues
  • help you assess the risks and benefits of treatment with the medication(s)
  • either be able to design a sound plan for behavior modification and training, or refer you to a trainer with expertise in behavior modification

Quite some laundry list, isn't it? And that's why your well-educated trainer will not be getting out her prescription pad any time soon.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).