How do I know if I need your help?

We assist people and pets with a range of behaviour related issues, from basic training for normal healthy pets, to therapeutic intervention for pets with complicated medical and psychiatric problems such as behaviour disorders or mental health problems.

You would benefit from our services if any or all of the following apply:

  • Your pet is displaying problematic or undesirable behaviour

  • Your pet's behaviour is causing stress to you or your family 

  • You are confused, upset, frustrated or concerned about your pet's behaviour

  • You would like advice and support in regards to changing your pet's behaviour

  • Your pet is struggling with aspects of every day life such going for walks, traveling in the car, visiting new places, interacting with people or other animals, being left home alone

  • Your pet has not been making progress with training or attempts to address the undesirable behaviour

  • You think your pet may be suffering from anxiety or a behaviour disorder

  • You have been referred or recommended to see us by your vet or trainer

What does a consult involve?

A consultation at Pawly Understood can be tailored to your needs and wants and may vary depending on what is going on with your pet and what level of help or intervention you have already received or are currently receiving for their behaviour issues.

We offer training consultations with our wonderful trainers as well as veterinary behaviour consultations with our veterinarians. 

A typical initial veterinary behaviour consultation in our clinic involves a combined session with a trainer and veterinarian. During this first session you and your pet will spend approximately 2 to 2.5 hours with our team. The consultation will involve thorough history collection, observation of your pet's behaviour, getting to know you and your pet, making an assessment and diagnosis of the behaviour problem/s and then formulating a treatment and action plan. 

It is best if all family members (or as many as possible) can be present for this initial session so that everyone can contribute and receive the required information and recommendations to ensure we have a united support team around your pet going forward and maximise the chance of the most successful outcome. 

Are your staff competent and qualified?

Yes, absolutely!

Three of our vets; Dr Elle, Dr Emma V and Dr. Carol have completed further study and gained post-graduate qualification in veterinary behaviour through membership to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. 

Dr Elle has been practising purely in behaviour medicine for many years since making the transition from general practice. 

Dr. Aly, Dr. Emma R, Dr Lizzie Davis and Dr Lizzy Davies (2 different people!) are veterinarians with a special interest in the field and who have been and are actively pursuing further education in behaviour while still working as general practitioners too. 

All of our passionate and dedicated trainers hold formal qualifications and certifications in animal behaviour and training, either through the Delta Society or other institutions. 

Many of our team members have pursued multiple and diverse (formal and informal) continuing education and professional development.

Our team members are certified "Fear free" professionals, having completed this accreditation through fearfreepets.com.

We are all self-professed "behaviour nerds" and are committed to staying up to date by digesting the latest research and publications as well as attending (and presenting) conferences, seminars and webinars to learn from others experts from within Australia and around the world. 

 

What sort of techniques do you use? Are you force-free?

Yes - we are force-free. Your pet is safe with us.

We use positive reinforcement techniques. 

The use of aversive training methods such as fear and punishment in behaviour modification and training is inappropriate, out-dated, unethical, anti-scientific and dangerous. Punishment based techniques are proven to cause worsening of anxiety and increased aggression as well as degradation of the human-animal bond. 

We will never support nor recommend the use of fear, force, confrontation, pain or coercion in modifying behaviour.

Our techniques are based on science and a thorough understanding of animal psychology. We are trained to recognise and distinguish normal vs abnormal behaviour and adjust our behaviour interventions accordingly. We assess and address the underlying problems, emotional motivations and diagnoses for each pet as an individual and can then apply the best and most appropriate interventions for your pet based on their needs and your situation. 

This is why our techniques are are effective.

Do you use medication?

Yes – if/when it is necessary. 

If a medical diagnosis (ie a psychiatric disturbance, behaviour disorder or mental health problem) is found to be the cause for a behaviour problem then medication may be necessary and will be recommended for your pet if/when appropriate. 

Anxiety disorders in pets are serious and detrimental diseases which negatively impact quality of life and longevity. The chronic stress and physiological changes caused by anxiety are very real but are frequently under-recognised and under-treated.  Behaviour disorders require medical treatment to assist in correcting abnormalities in the brain and body and to improve functioning, health and wellbeing as well as facilitating learning and better responsiveness to training. 

Medication, if used, will always be implemented as part of a holistic behaviour therapy plan involving behaviour management, modification and monitoring. 

What are the ongoing commitments? 

This depends on your pet's needs and what you are wanting to get out of our services. 

Behaviour intervention for pets does involve financial, emotional and time committments. 

If your pet needs medical treatment then multiple or regular consultations may be required to reassess and adjust their therapy. How often your pet needs to be seen by one of our vets depends on many factors such as their diagnosis, the severity of their behaviour issues and how well they respond or stabilise with treatment. 

It is common for a pet to need a follow-up revisit consultation within 1 to 3 months of their initial appointment. The frequency of consultations may then be able to reduce to approximately every 6 months if your pet is doing well. 

In regards to training and behaviour modification consultations, the frequency of training consultations can be variable but the more frequent they are, then the better and faster progress your pet will make. 

Do you keep my regular vet informed?

Yes – we work with your regular vet as part of a team. We can send them updates and copies of reports and treatment details so they are always in the loop and so you and your pet have a comprehensive  support network around you. 

We can also offer vet-to-vet consultations whereby we conduct phone or email consults with your regular vet to help them manage your pet's care, instead of seeing you ourselves. 

There may be additional charges payable to your regular vet for their time and services in this instance. 

What does it cost? What are your fees and charges?

Please contact us for a chat and a quote.

We can talk through costs depending on your wants and needs and those of your pet.

Fees vary with services provided and there are many options available. 

We are happy to work to your budget and preferences and can tailor our service to your goals and requests. 

We offer a 10% discount to pensioners. 

We also offer discounts to clients being referred by certain approved trainers because our consultations are able to be more streamlined and quicker where approved trainerns have already provided clients with a background level of education, assessment and intervention. 

NOTE: We can offer no-interest payment plans and other flexible payment terms such as extended time to pay your account. We do not want the stress of finances to be a barrier to you and your pet getting the required help. ​We are in it for the love of pets, not for the money!

What are your consulting hours?

Veterinary behaviour consults in clinic are available Tuesday to Friday from 8:30am to 6pm, Saturdays from 9am to 4pm and urgent cases can even be accommodated on Sundays. Telemedicine consultations can be conducted on Mondays when our clinic is closed. 

Behaviour training consults are available seven days per week. ​

Where are you located?

We consult out of the behaviour rooms at Adelaide Vet: 421 Goodwood Rd, Westbourne Park SA 5041. We are located within the AdelaideVet Clinic. Use the following to help find us:

  • Use the car parking avaiable out the front of AdelaideVet

  • Enter the AdelaideVet main entrance and turn left

  • Pawly Understood reception is located through the glass doors to the left of the main entrance

Do you offer home visits?

Yes, we understand that coming to a clinic can be stressful and challenging for some pets with behaviour problems and special needs.

For clients wanting a consultation in the comfort of their own home, we can offer a mobile service.

A travel fee and callout surcharge does apply to house calls. 

Do you offer Telemedicine?

Yes, we offer a telemedicine service and can consult via Zoom or phone call.

For initial veterinary behaviour consultations conducted via telemedicine (when we are not seeing the patient in the flesh) we will need to liaise with your regular veterinarian to have them implement our recommended medical treatment. This is because we are not at legal liberty to prescribe / dispense medication for pets who we have not actually seen face to face. There may be additional charges payable to your regular vet for their time and services in this instance. 

Why should I choose you over another pet behaviour service provider?

Our team is an incredible group of caring, compassionate and highly competent people who are dedicated to helping you and who are invested in achieving optimal outcomes for your pet. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service and patient care.

The pet training industry is unregulated. Unfortunately, this means that there are many service providers who market themselves as trainers or behaviour experts who are NOT qualified nor up to date with their skills and knowledge. Unqualified people may spread misinformation, give misguided advice and may use or recommend outdated and harmful techniques which can make your pet's behaviour and mental health worse, all while draining well-meaning clients of their financial resources.

Sadly, often by the time clients come to us, they have spent a lot of time, energy and money on pet behaviour services which have been not only unhelpful but inappropriate, unethical and detrimental.

In many cases, we first have to "undo" some of the harm caused by such people or institutions and re-educate clients by introducing them to new and updated information, concepts, paradigms, perceptions and practical interventions. It also frequently means that the pet is several steps behind where it could have been and then has a longer journey ahead to better health and behaviour. 

Additionally, unqualified service providers lack the skills and knowledge to recognise when pets may need help beyond what they can offer and they will fail to refer for necessary veterinary behaviour intervention or more qualified training expertise, which delays pets getting the treatment they need. 

There are very few truly qualified service providers in SA who know what they are doing when it comes to helping pets with serious behaviour problems.  

I already have a trainer - why do I need you?

Our services are frequently needed instead of or in addition to training. 

We do not only provide training services, we provide behaviour therapy and veterinary behaviour services. 

The difference between "training" and "behaviour therapy" is that "training" is about making a pet behave in a certain way or do certain things, whereas "behaviour therapy" is about changing the emotional state underlying a behaviour ie addressing the cause of the problem and helping the pet feel differently and therefore behave differently. Many problematic behaviours are coping strategies for emotional distress, fear and anxiety and so cannot and should not be addressed with "training". Sometimes, "training" a pet to behave in a certain way without recognising and addressing their underlying emotional issues will make a pet worse because it may cause them confusion, frustration, conflict and may suppress their coping strategies, worsening their internal state. 

Another way to understand the contrast between training and the additional services we are able to offer is understanding the concept of "problem behaviours" vs "behaviour problems". 

"Problem behaviours" are things that we humans find undesirable but which are just NORMAL behaviours for the pet who is a normal and healthy individual. "Behaviour problems" are ABNORMAL behaviours and are signs of an underlying psychological problem or pathology. 

It may also be useful to engage our services even if you already have a trainer simply for a second opinion or some fresh insight if your pet is not progressing as you had hoped or expected. We may have some different ideas, techniques and approaches or new light to shed on the situation. 

We are used to dealing with "special needs" pets (those with behaviour problems as discussed above). These pets with anixiety and behaviour disorders need special tailored training. 

As discussed above - not all trainers are equal in terms of their knowledge and skills. Some are practicing in inappropriate and harmful ways. Furthermore, even some very competent and qualified trainers with the best of intentions do not understand how to implement appropriate training for anxious pets (those with "behaviour problems" - whose brains are struggling with impairments and disortions secondary to their anxiety). In these cases, even some otherwise excellent trainers may sometimes make behaviour problems worse while trying to help. 

If you already have a trainer who is appropriately qualified and is an approved force-free professional, then we will recommend that you continue to engage their services and will refer back to them following your assessment with us. We can be a team and work together - we will help direct them in regards to our recomended specific behaviour therapy for your pet. 

If you already have a trainer who is NOT appropriately qualified and/or is NOT force-free then we will respectfully recommend you disengage from their services and will be happy to further elaborate on the many reasons why this is necesssary. 

Please see this link to the RSPCA SA's list of current accredited force-free trainers. If your trainer is not on this list then this is a red flag. 

https://rspcasa.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/FF-List-Update-March-2022.pdf

Which species of pet do you see?

We are qualified to help and are interested in seeing pets of any species including livestock, horses, birds, rabbits, rodents, ferrets and even wildlife. However, we most commonly see dogs and cats. 

I’m keen to proceed, what’s the next step?

If you would like to go ahead and book a consultation, please reach out and contact us so we can discuss your needs and get you booked in. 

While we are continuously working to improve our waiting times, we do have waiting lists and there may be a waiting time of several weeks for cases that are not extremely urgent. 

We strongly encourage you to take your pet to your regular vet for a thorough check up and screening blood test before you consultation with our team. This is gold-standard practice to rule out medical conditions such as pain or disease that can cause or contribute to abnormal behaviour. Medical problems (especially pain) are a very common finding in behaviour practice and are frequently under-recognised and under-diagnosed. However, we understand that in reality, many anxious pets may not be able to cope with a vet exam and blood test until they are more stable or unless sedated - so this is not a mandatory requirement.  

We do not need a formal referral from your regular vet in order to proceed with booking a consultation however, we will request your pet's medical records from your vet upon confirming your booking (if you give your consent to do so).

If you have been working with a trainer, we will contact them to obtain any written records or reports they may be able to provide to give us further background on the case. 

Prior to your consultation, we will email you some a questionnaire to complete.  We will also provide you with some resources and reading material to digest before your appointment.