Behaviour Webinar: Vets & Vet Nurses

Behaviour Webinar: Vets & Vet Nurses

How will pets manage when COVID-19 restrictions are eased and owners return to work?

June 4, 2020 19:00 (AEST)

Hosted by Terrapinn 

COVID-19 has required that we all adapt to living differently. Owners have spent substantially more time at home with their families and pets. When families return to work or school and lifestyles change again, the impacts on pets will be substantial. It’s vitally important that veterinary staff are aware of potential behavioural issues, are discussing and educating clients on identifying problems, and are able to diagnose, treat and manage these patients appropriately.

Join this interactive webinar where you will:

  • Gain insight into the awareness of potential animal behavioural issues 
  • Learn about the challenges of behavioural issues 
  • Understand the different types of behavioural problems and how they can be successfully dealt with
photo of Dr Bronwen Bollaert

Dr Bronwen Bollaert Director @Healthy Pet Behaviour Services

Dr Bronwen Bollaert (BVSc, MSc, MANZCVS) completed her undergraduate training at Onderstepoort in South Africa. She worked in small animal private practice, welfare, research, zoo and wildlife medicine before focusing on veterinary behaviour medicine. She completed a Master of Veterinary Science Degree by dissertation and is a Member of the Veterinary Behaviour Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Science. She owns and runs Healthy Pet Behaviour Services, providing behavioural medicine services to the Greater Brisbane area, and Healthy Pet Mobile Vet, a house call practice servicing pets in Brisbane’s Northern Suburbs.

photo of Tracey Anderson

Dr Tracey Anderson Director @Australian Veterinary Behaviour Services

Tracey is a senior veterinarian and graduated from Murdoch University in 2000. Tracey worked at Willunga Veterinary Services as a mixed practice veterinarian. In 2005, Tracey worked in the UK as a vet in both small and mixed practice for 9 months. Tracey then returned to work at Willunga Veterinary Services until she co-founded Australian Veterinary Behaviour Services. Tracey designed and started the puppy preschool classes in 2001 at Willunga Veterinary Services. In 2004 Tracey completed a post graduate course in animal behaviour at Sydney University. Since 2004 Tracey has been offering behaviour consultations. In 2008 Tracey became a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Veterinary Behaviour by examination. AVBS is a behaviour only clinic based in McLaren Vale where Tracey consults full time, in addition to consulting at AVSARC at Norwood. Tracey is very passionate about animal behaviour and loves to see her patients and clients welfare improve.

Dogs and Storms

Dogs and Storms

With the recent storms hitting the East Coast of Australia and possibly some more coming this season, it is important to talk about thunderstorm fears and phobias in dogs – and what we can do to help our furry friends feel less scared during storms. 

Is it normal for dogs to be scared of wind, rain, thunder and lightning?

Many dogs dislike storms and they may react to them in one of many ways. Some just come inside to get out of the rain, wind and noise. However, some can be distressed and show signs like barking, hiding, shaking, seeking physical contact or escaping (even when the owners are around). Some dogs cope better, because they learnt to cope with storms as puppies (this is what we call habituation), but some pets get sensitised to storms and every time they get a fright, it just gets worse and worse the next time. 

The old saying of “Oh, he’ll get used to it!” does not work with dogs who are scared of storms. Without intervention and treatment, storm fears usually get worse as time goes by and affected dogs may develop a storm phobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder which has serious quality of life and health effects. 

What can you do?

First of all, look for changes in your pet’s behaviour when a thunderstorm arrives. Changed body posture, lowered tail base, panting, pacing around and trembling can be signs of a stressed dog.

Turn the radio or TV on to block the sound of thunder, close the blinds and curtains and switch the lights on (this will help minimize the lightning effect).

If your pet starts to look for a hiding spot (usually small dark places are favoured like toilets or under the bed), then consider having an open crate available for your dog at all times. Make sure it is dark inside so cover the top and sides with a lightweight material. Give your pet a long lasting chew item (such as a pig’s ear or bully stick) or a lickimat with some of their favourite stuff smeared on it (cream cheese, peanut butter, liver pate) and see if they are interested in it. If they usually can’t resist a pig’s ear or a lickimat, but can’t eat them during a storm, then they are probably too stressed to eat! That’s when you should talk to a behaviour veterinarian.

Does your pet seek more physical affection or act more clingy? Then give them attention and reassurance. You can’t make a fearful animal more afraid by stroking them – that is an old myth that has been debunked a long time ago.

Try to engage your pet in a game of tug or give them a food puzzle to solve – something positive to distract them from worrying about the storm. If they can’t be distracted with a pleasurable activity, then they may need supportive medication for storms. 

Dog appeasing pheromones like Adaptil spray or oral supplement such as Zylkene may assist in mild cases, but they might not provide enough support for more panicky pets.

If you notice signs of destruction, digging under the fenceline, scratching, chewing or your pet has  escaped during a storm, then please seek urgent veterinary attention. It is not okay for a pet to feel so panicked that they run away from its home. 

What if my pet is on already on medication?

If your dog is already on some type of situational medication for storms, then check the weather app on your phone (you can even opt in for storm alerts), and if there is a storm predicted for later during the day, dose the medication. It is still better to give them the medication pre-emptively and the storm not eventuate than not giving it at all. If you forgot to give the medication and you come home to a panty, stressy Fido, then it is still beneficial to give him the medication as this will aid your pet’s recovery.

If the medication does not seem to be working, or the signs have progressed, talk to the veterinarian who prescribed it, or seek help from a qualified behaviour veterinarian for a review of the medication. There is always more than one option, so please don’t let your pet stress about storms.

For more information on behavioural consultations with Dr Bronwen Bollaert BVSc MSc MANZCVS (Veterinary Behaviour) or to arrange an appointment, please send us an email to or call 0481 527 678.

A Dog’s Christmas

A Dog’s Christmas

Our doggos are a part of the family and we love having them around. Here are some tips on making things fun for your pooch as well as the rest of the family!

Food: Make sure your dog is not given overly fatty foods, chocolates, cooked bones etc. as these ‘special treats’ may result in you having to visit the Emergency Clinic on Christmas Day! Not a lot of fun for anyone! Also, if your pet is likely to ‘help himself to the Turkey’, please make sure everyone puts food up high.

Visitors: If your dog is anxious around visitors, make sure he has somewhere safe, calm and relaxing to go. Give him a long-lasting treat or chew to make the time more pleasant. You can play calm relaxing music and use Adaptil diffuser or lavender for extra support. And, make sure visitors don’t disturb him. And remember to always supervise pets and children when sharing the same space.

Fireworks: If your pet is afraid of Fireworks, ensure they have somewhere calm to be whilst they happening. Close curtains, switch lights on and switch on the radio or TV to muffle some of the background noise. If possible engage them in a fun game or offer a long lasting treat to help them feel more relaxed.

Christmas Presents: We love sharing the joy of Christmas with our fur buddies and there are any number of special treats, toys and pet presents available now. Just be sure to choose ones that contain safe ingredients and are produced by reputable manufacturers.

Although we love having our pets being part of the fun, please get in touch if you have concerns about how your pet is going to cope over the holiday season. There is a lot we can do to help!

Behaviour Seminar & Dinner

Behaviour Seminar & Dinner

Helping the “Difficult” Patient in the Veterinary Clinic

Wed 30th Oct 2019 6:30pm for 7pm

Chermside Library, 375 Hamilton Road

Vets, Vet Nurses and Trainers are invited to join us for an evening seminar on Veterinary Behaviour. Dr Bronwen Bollaert will be discussing how to manage challenging patients in clinic. Identify and reduce stress levels to improve clinical outcomes, safety for staff, and form positive client and patient associations with your clinic. Strategies and pre-visit medications will be discussed.

Hosted by Dr Bronwen Bollaert BVSc MSc MANZCVS (Veterinary Behaviour)

Spaces are limited so reserve your space now!

To book your FREE spot:

Anxious Pet – What is he worrying about?

Anxious Pet – What is he worrying about?

What’s that noise? Who moved there? Is something scary going to happen?

Anxious pets – everybody knows one. But what is anxiety? Anxiety is when a pet worries about something that is going to happen in the future. That worry causes an unpleasant emotional feeling and in turn, a behavioural response. For example, a pet may become restless, fidgety or agitated when he can see you bringing out the suitcases – he remembers from the last time, that it means you’re going away or that he’s going to the kennels.

As people, we can feel a bit anxious before doing a big presentation or before starting a new job – it’s normal for a pet to feel a bit uncertain at times. It becomes problematic though when the worrying becomes so frequent or intense that it starts to interfere with normal everyday living.

Some common things that pets may feel anxious about are:

  • storms
  • going in the car
  • going on walks
  • staying at home alone
  • visiting the vet

For some pets, anxiety may be mild and manageable with small changes, but for others, it can be debilitating and a true welfare issue. And, just like other medical conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, anxiety in pets tends to get worse if left untreated.

So, what can be done to help pets with anxiety?

Fortunately, there are several ways that we can help pets manage better. Depending on what your pet is concerned about, various tailored strategies and supports can be employed to help them cope. It’s always useful to have a well-rounded plan that addresses the problem on many different fronts:

  1. Consider the pet’s environment and how that can be modified to help
  2. Teach the pet coping strategies
  3. If appropriate, veterinarians may consider suitable medications

We can help! If you think your pet may struggling with an anxiety issue, please get in touch. You can reach us via our contact page or call 0481 527 678 or via Facebook.

Toilet training your puppy

Toilet training your puppy

So you fell in love with those cute puppy eyes. Bringing home a new furry family member is exciting but can be exhausting sometimes, especially waking up at night for a crying puppy and constantly cleaning up after them. Yep, puppies eat, sleep, play and eliminate… a lot!

How long will it take to toilet train my puppy?

Every puppy will eventually learn to toilet in appropriate areas if given the chance – very few dogs have problems with toileting past adolescence and if they do, it could be due to physical or psychological reasons. But let’s not get there yet. Let’s teach your new puppy to use an area you would like for them to use when nature calls.

First of all, it is important to remember that young puppies are like babies or toddlers without the nappy on. They don’t have the physical ability to hold their bladders and it takes time for their neural pathways to develop so they can make the connection between “I need to go” and “I need to go outside”. So please be patient in the first few weeks or even months.

Each puppy is different and there is some variation between maturity levels of different sized pups. Some learn quicker, some slower and a lot depends on your vigilance and management too. Most pups learn to use an appropriate toileting area by 5-6 months of age, some learn even faster.

If your puppy is still having accidents after 9 months of age, you should talk to your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Adolescent puppies can sometimes urinate in excitement and even adult dogs can eliminate when they feel scared, so please get them assessed by a behaviour vet if you’re not having success with the below suggestions.

How do you set up your home so that it is puppy proof?

As a rule of thumb, the more free range your pup has of the home, the bigger the risks of accidents. If you can’t supervise your puppy, a baby gate or puppy playpen is highly recommended to keep them safely confined to an area that’s not too big and easy to clean. If you can keep a close eye on your pup, you can allow them to explore and watch for those signs…

What are the signs that a puppy needs to go to the toilet? Sniffing the floor, circling, moving away from people, hiding behind furniture can mean something is about to happen. If you can spot your puppy doing any of these signs, quickly and gently pick them up and take them outside. If they already started peeing or pooing, please let them finish, and try not to get angry.

Scolding your pup only makes him or her worried or scared – no-one should feel that they’re not allowed to perform a normal behaviour like relieving themselves. Making them fearful means that you’re actually more likely to find “hidden presents” and “getting into trouble” means that they don’t learn where you do want them to go. You’ll be more vigilant next time (it is a skill that can be learned too!).

Rugs and mats are very inviting for pups and they can’t tell the difference between your expensive Persian rug and a cheap door mat – they are both perfect toilets in their eyes! So if you don’t want your rugs to have stains on them, please roll them up for a few weeks until your puppy is more reliable with toileting.

Things you’ll need for successful toilet training:

Using puppy pads near the exit points can reduce accidents. Puppies have a natural tendency to do their business outside, but sometimes can’t get there in time. If you have a big area that your puppy can explore, it is a good idea to have a few puppy mats around the house in the first few weeks and then gradually reduce the number of in-door toilets as your pup reliably uses the pads.

Puppies would prefer to eliminate on grass, but if you don’t have a grassy backyard, you can set up an area on your balcony/verandah with an artificial grass mat or real grass – you can even get a fresh patch of grass delivered to you every few weeks.

It is also important what cleaning products you use. Some contain ammonia that will attract dogs (and cats) to pee on that spot. Some smell great for a human nose, but can’t trick a dog’s extra special nose, which picks up on a whole range of scents that we can’t. Enzymatic cleaning products will break down the smells instead of masking them, so your pup is less likely to go back to the same spot if cleaned up properly.

Toileting routine of puppies:

Puppies generally have to eliminate every few hours, depending on activity levels. They usually need to go straight after waking up from a nap, exercise or playtime, and within 30 minutes of eating and drinking.

In an ideal world, you should take your puppy outside (or to his designated toileting area) every 1-2 hours initially and then less frequently as your pup matures and you are getting better at reading the warning signs.

Reward at the right time instead of punish when it’s too late:

Accidents will happen for a few weeks, so please do not get cross with your pup – it is not their fault that they can’t hold their bladder. Much like human babies, it is just a developmental stage they have to go through. Gentle guidance and rewarding for doing their business in the right spot will help them learn quicker.

Ensure you don’t yell at, push their nose into their mess or use any type of punishment on your puppy if they have an accident, as this may cause them to be afraid of you and toilet away from you next time (e.g. behind the couch). There is absolutely no point in punishing pups as they won’t understand what they did wrong.

Instead, give them a big praise when they are doing their business in the right spot so they are likely to do it again in the correct place. You can even teach them to urinate on cue by adding a word to the action (e.g. “toilet” or “wee wee”). This can be handy if you are in a hurry or need to take a urine sample from your dog later on.

What if my puppy/adult dog is still not toilet trained?

If you are still having trouble toilet training your puppy or you have an adult dog that is having accidents inside the house, get in touch with us at any of the following contacts so we can help you.

Mobile: 0481 527 678


Online booking: click here