Client understanding and compliance are critical if animals with behavioral disorders are to improve. Because the strategy for modifying undesirable behavior requires that the owner be prepared and capable of identifying each situation and substituting a more desirable response, the initial approach should be to avoid or prevent the provocative situation. This may be a slow and gradual process, and the owners' expectations of what might be achieved may require modification. Each exposure in which the outcome is unpleasant may add to any underlying fear or anxiety, while every event in which the pet is successful at removing the problem (eg, by escape or aggression) will further reinforce the behavior. Prevention and avoidance of situations, the expectations as to what might be achieved, how the environment is to be managed and modified, and how the pet's behavior will need to be modified over time should all be reviewed and must be both acceptable and practical for the owners.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Gary Landsberg, BSc, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB, DECVBM-CA