Frequently asked questions
Who do I reach out to for help?
If can be diffcult for a pet owner to know who they should reach out to for help. A trainer? A veterinarian whose practice is limited to behavior? Their family veterinarian?
Look over the following statements. If any of these describe your pet then it would benefit your family to set up a consultation with a veterarian whose practice is limited to behavior.
* If your pet's behavior is causing you and/or your family members stress, anxiety or worry, or if your pet's behavior is affecting their day to day quality of life, or is creating a risk to other people or animals then a visit with Dr. Lewis is a great choice.
* If your pet has injured another person, another animal, or even you.
* If your veterinarian or trainer has said that your pet's behavioral issues are outside their level of expertise.
* If your pet is showing abnormal repetitive behaviors, is destructive, or is causing injury to him /herself.
* If your pet seems scared of new people, new environments, or is unable to settle in the presence of new people. Your pet always seems afraid.
* If your pet's behavior has progressed to the point where you are considering humane euthanasia or re-homing him/her.
If you didn't find any of these describe your pet, consider contacting a trainer. See my list of
What type of behavior problems does Dr. Lewis treat?
Anxiety when separated from owners or left alone
Constant worrying about things in the house, activity outside, around new people, about other dogs, about new things, etc.
Aggression towards people or animals
Destructive behaviors involving chewing, mouthing, scratching, digging
Excessive vocalization such as barking, howling, meowing.
Compulsive disorders or repetitive behaviors such as circling, shadow chasing, flank sucking, tail chasing, itching, excessive grooming.
Cognitive dysfunction/decline seen in older pets such as change in sleep cycle, pacing, confusion.
Fears and phobias
- Noises: fireworks, storms,
- Fear associated with change in barometric pressure, grooming, car travel, veterinary care, walks, nighttime, other dogs, people.
- House soiling
Urine marking by dogs and cats
Litter box challenges: problem solving why a cat may not be urinating and/or defecating the litter box
Foster dog evaluations assessing the needs of a dog or cat in foster care prior to adoption.
Spinal manipulation services (aka animal chiropractic)
What should I expect during my consultation?
INTRODUCTION (5-10 minutes)
* When I arrive, I will ask that we sit down in a semi-open space such as a family room or porch where we can talk while I am watching your pet. I do bring along toys/ activities for your pet to explore.
* I will let your pet come to me at their own speed when they are ready to interact. However, if your dog
is not fond of visitors then 10-15 minutes prior to the appointment put your dog in a crate, backyard, back room, or behind a gate. It is okay to give a stuffed kong or busy buddy toy as a distraction. I will ask you to bring your dog out shortly after I arrive.
* Please try not to feed your dog a full meal at least 5 hours prior to my arrival. If your dog needs to take medication with food or has other dietary needs, give only a small meal. For cats, give only a small meal the day of my visit.
* Prepare your pet's favorite high value treats such as hot dogs, cheese, chicken breasts, etc. by cutting them into thumbnail sized portions.
MORE HISTORY (45min-1hour)
* While I watch how your pet interacts with me, the toys, you, we will delve into further details about specific questions I have from the history form.
DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT PLAN, PROGNOSIS (1 hour)
* I will discuss your pet's
diagnosis and how their underlying emotional condition (such as anxiety) neurochemically leads to the behaviors you are seeing.
* We will then discuss specific
management strategies that will be helpful in keeping the behavior from worsening, offers a safety plan, and allows you to control the environment while your pet is learning more appropriate behaviors.
* We will discuss a
behavior modification plan to teach your pet more appropriate behaviors. At our first meeting I will make sure we are setting your pet up to learn by making sure they have a solid foundation in which to communicate with you.
Medication. Some pets do benefit from the use of anti-anxiety medication. This is not indicated for all pets. The goal with medication is to help improve their anxiety enough so that they are receptive to management techniques and learning new behaviors. It is used only in conjunction with management and behavior modification,
never in place of it.
PAYMENT (5 min): Payment is expected at the end of the consultation. I accept Venmo, Check, Cash.
AFTER THE APPOINTMENT: You will receive the behavior treatment report in your email within 7 business days after our consultation. Your primary veterinarian will also receive the report. If your pet is being started on medication, the prescription will be placed at the pharmacy.
SUPPORT: For many pets needing behavior help, this can be a journey with ups and downs. Follow-up can be critical to reach successful outcomes. Each consultation includes 3 months of email support to answer questions, sovle problems, review videos, etc. I recommend sendng updates minimmally at 2 weeks, 1 months, 2 months, 3 months .
What is the difference between a trainer and a veterinarian offering behavior consultations?
While there is no official standardization in the field of dog training, Veterinarians must adhere to a standardized set of ethical guidelines, standards, and continuing education requirements in order to maintain licensure.
Unlike the dog training field where unfortunately there are no official standardizations, Veterinarians must adhere to a standardized set of ethical guidelines, credentials, and continuing education requirements in order to maintain licensure.
Dr. Lewis is passionate about continuing education. She believes there is always something to learn from new scientific research, colleagues, trainers, owners, and even the patients themselves. So recommendations are made based on current, science based methods, and experience.
Trainers can also play an essential role in helping your pet, however they cannot diagnose or recommend medication for your pet (clarification - they can recommend that your pet may benefit from the use of medication but should not be making recommendations on specific medications; which is not legal). Trainers can be immensely helpful in the treatment process once your pet's underlying emotional state is being addressed. This is a great example where the saying "It takes a village" applies.
While many trainers are skilled to assist in puppy socialization, basic manners, or teaching foundation behaviors only select trainers have the expertise needed to address more challenging behavior problems. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has a
great guide on what to look for in a trainer. Another good resource is to reach out to
Force Free Trainers of WI who can help to match you with an ideal trainer.
I am already working with a trainer, will I have to switch exclusively to Lewis Veterinary Behavior Solutions?
Dr. Lewis is always happy to work with your trainer if they are interested. With your approval she will also send them the final behavior consultation report. If your trainer is comfortable and is experienced in working with your pet's specific issue they can be helpful in implementing the behavior treatment plan that Dr. Lewis recommends following your behavior consultation.
Do you offer a guarantee of successful outcomes?
Dr. Lewis guarantees that she will treat you and your pet with respect, compassion, and honesty. Our pets are living beings with varying histories, genetics, experiences, homes and as such have individual responses to treatments. It would be unfair and deceitful to offer guarantees of treatment. Most clients report significant improvement once treatment has started. Dr. Lewis will support you and your pet on your journey to the best of her ability.
There are a few questions to consider that may impact your pet's response to treatment:
1. How long has the behavior been going on? Has the intensity of the behavior changed?
2. Are you reasonably capable of avoiding situations that may trigger your pet's behavior when starting treatment?
3. Are you willing to check in with Dr. Lewis about your pet's response to treatment, struggles, successes?
4. Are you willing to devote time each day to working on various exercises?
5. Do you have realistic goals in mind for your pet?
How do I schedule an appointment?
Step 1: Fill out the history forms HERE. This is now required to be filled out in full prior to making an apppointment.
Step 2: We set up a date and time for the consultation. Consultations are mainly held M-F in the AM (9/10am start time) or early afternoon start time. Weekends and nights are extremely limited and do come with an additinal fee.
I request medical records from your veterinarian.
You can send along short videos via Google Photos, YouTube, DropBox, or Maildrop of the undesired behavior.
NOTE: Only take the video if safe to do so. Do not put yourself, another pet, child, or person at risk to capture the video.
In specific circumstances involving aggression, we may discuss a safety plan to start implementing before we meet.
What type of pets does Dr. Lewis see?
Dr. Lewis sees dogs and cats of any age and breed.
How many visits will I need?
For some pets, behavioral therapy is a journey that requires several adjustments, patience, and ongoing problem solving support. Dr. Lewis encourages you to set up a follow-up consultation 3 months following your initial consultation if:
Follow-up Appointments typically are done virtually through Google Meet or Zoom. They last 30-60 minutes. After the follow-up you and your veterinarian will receive a summary of the session.
If your pet is doing well on their current behavior treatment plan, prescription authorzation can be transferred to your primary care veterinarian. By law, Dr. Lewis cannot refill prescriptions beyond one year of your pet's last visit with Lewis Veterinary Behavior Solutions.
Continued adjustments need to be made to anxti-anxiety medication
New concerns have arisen
Continued feedback to management and behavior modification plan is wanted.