Dr. Richard Seymour BVSc MANZCVS (Veterinary Behaviour) completed a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree from the University of Queensland in 2006. In 2018, he was awarded membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Science – Veterinary Behaviour Chapter.
The Veterinarians of the ANZCVS Veterinary Behaviour Chapter are those with a specific interest and high level of expertise in the field of animal behaviour. Our veterinarians treat cases of house soiling, noise phobias, separation anxiety, tail chasing, excessive barking, feather plucking, cribbing, flank sucking, pacing, dementia, and more. Many of these problems are not simple training or obedience problems but have an underlying medical basis. Our veterinarians are skilled at diagnosing the underlying cause of a behaviour and developing a treatment plan, which may involve appropriate medication (if indicated), environmental management, and behavioural modification.
Behaviour is the outward expression of an individual’s emotional state, influenced by its environment and prior learning.
An individual’s behaviour should be adaptive and have the long-term effect of making that animal’s life more efficient and better.
When assessing any behavioural response of an individual animal, including our pets, we need to assess the underlying emotional state or motivation.
Once this is known, we can ask ourselves:
If the answers to these questions are “yes,” the behaviour present can be considered normal. If that behaviour is undesirable, then this is an unwanted—not abnormal—behaviour. If any of the answers to these questions are “no,” it is possible that the behaviour can be considered abnormal and there may be an underlying mental or emotional health disorder. This can be applied to all behaviours, including vocalisation/barking, aggression towards other animals or towards people (familiar or foreign), toileting issues, and many others.
Diagnosing behavioural conditions correctly, like any other medical diagnosis, is extremely important to ensure the correct treatment is prescribed. This will improve the prognosis. This process is time-consuming, as thorough history-taking is necessary to ensure that nothing is missed. Behavioural conditions are often chronic; they manifest gradually over a long period of time and are often multifactorial (involving genetic, socialisation, environmental, and learning components).
If you are concerned that your pet is displaying abnormal or undesirable behaviours, or that your pet may be suffering from mental or emotional health concerns, please advise our clinic staff. All animals exhibiting undesirable, changed, or potentially abnormal behaviours should be seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian for a thorough physical exam, including or excluding other diagnostic testing to rule out possible underlying medical conditions. Often, behaviour changes noted can be directly related to physical disease processes and may resolve when physical ailments are identified and treated. If the physical exam is unremarkable or if concurrent behavioural and physical conditions are suspected, we recommend a thorough behavioural workup.
The initial behavioural consultation runs for approximately two hours, during which Dr. Rich will discuss all concerning behaviours as well as other aspects of your pet’s life. This will include your pet’s breeding and early development, training, and day-to-day life plus the onset and development of any undesirable behaviours. The goal is to investigate underlying emotional motivations and the effects of learning from juvenile/adolescent periods and prior experiences. You will be provided a behaviour survey to fill out prior to the consult and will receive a detailed report following your visit. As with the management of any long-term medical condition, regular rechecks are vital to ensuring the optimal quality of treatment and care for your pet. Some of these will require face-to-face visits and others can be conducted over the phone. A revisit/recheck plan will be included in your initial consult report.