• Camden Valley Animal Hospital
  • 02 4647 6199
  • Unit 2 Exchange Parade, Narellan

Behavioural Services


We at Camden Valley Animal Hospitals believe one of the most important aspects of owning a pet is to have a healthy and happy relationship with it.

Many pets are abandoned at pounds or shelters because of a breakdown in this relationship. Worse still many more are banished to isolation in the back yard because of behaviour problems.  These animals some times suffer in silence for the rest of their lives.

But these behavioural issues can be resolved or managed and the relationship between the pet and the owner saved and strengthened.

We have been helping clients and their pets in the Macarthur region for 27 years and have dealt with a wide variety of animals and their behavioural problems including dogs, cats, alpacas, horses, cattle and birds.

Dr Andrew O'Shea gained his membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS)  Veterinary Behaviour Chapter in 2008 to further our teams skill in helping our clients and their animals. He is a past  President of the Australian Veterinary Behaviour Interest Group  (ABVIG) which is a special interest group of the the Australian Veterinary Association and he currently runs behaviour consultations out of the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney.

Dr Lisa Henshaw has also attained membership of the ANZCVS  in Veterinary Behaviour in 2015 and provides veterinary behaviour consultations here at Camden Valley Animal Hospital. Lisa is also a member of AVBIG and a past secretary of the organisation. She has a particular interest in the training side of animal behaviour. Lisa currently instructs agility and writes training articles for the local Wollondilly All Breeds Kennel Club and chats on radio with Stuart Cranney every Friday morning between 11am and 12. 


To help our clients with problematic behaviour two of our nurses are currently progressing through further training with the Delta Professional Dog Trainers to enable our team even further.

We work closely with highly qualified pet trainers to implement the behaviour modification programs that are required to help these pets and their owners.

We deal with a comprehensive range of behavioural problems ranging from cats urinating in inappropriate places through to Dangerous Dogs.

If you have any questions regarding our behavioural services please call our behaviour nurse Jess  on 46476199 or if you would like more information please email us at reception.betterbehavedpets@gmail.com

Reading the article below will give a better idea of what we can offer you if you are struggling with your pet's behaviour.

If you would like to proceed with the behavioural consultation click on the appropriate link and complete the online questionnaire. You can save it and come back to it at any time and when you have finished it and submitt the form it will come straight back to us so we can start assessing your pet and organize an appointment.

Canine Behavioural Consultation.   

Feline Behavioural Consultation.

If you have any questions please ring nurse Jess at the hospital on 46476199 or if you would like more information please email us at reception.betterbehavedpets@gmail.com and we will be intouch with you.

Looking forward to helping you with your pet's behavioural problems.


We are passionate about helping our clients pets with their behavioural issues so the pets can be the best pets the can be. Behavioural issues damage the relationship we have with our pets. Dealing with them compassionately humanely and using the best education techniques and medicines allows both the clients and the pets to have a happy wonderful life.

Below is a summary of what we do and what solutions we can offer you with your pets behaviour including topics

Why does your pet misbehave?

Prevention is of course the best medicine.

What sort of problems can we help you with!

What causes these behavioural abnormalities/problems.

Did you cause the problem by what happened when your pet was young? Or is it due to your pet’s breed?

How do we work out what is causing your pets behaviour?

Are there any medical conditions that can cause your pet's behavioural problems?


If you have any questions at any time please ring the hospital on 02 46476199 and make an appointment for us to help you with your pets behaviour. We look forward to helping you have the best pet possible.

Why does your pet misbehave?

Many clients ask us to help them because their pet is disobedient, dumb, ignorant, naughty, stupid, weird, crazy, crackers, nutts, strange, or unusual. All of these are defined in our mind.

 Clients tell us their pets won’t listen, pull on the lead, run away, bolt, won’t come when called, steal things or are unruly.

 We are told their pets suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or they are Hypoactive, Hypoactive etc.

 Often these pets are only being dogs, or cats or birds. The behaviour is natural but is unacceptable to the owner. The pet behaves this way because it does not know any better. Dogs when left to their own devices behave just like dogs and they learn doggy things much faster than anything else. Likewise cats behave and learn to be cats, cockatoos behave and learn to be cockatoos.

 We call these Problem Behaviours to differentiate them from the Behavioural abnormalities.

 To deal with these problem behaviours you must give your pets guidance as to what you expect of them by teaching them what to do. That is you must train them and by doing so you will prevent most of the behaviours that you find unacceptable.

 We provide a comprehensive pet education program for dogs cats and even birds. You can read more about our dog and cat education programs and if you would like us to help you with your pet’s behaviour please ring the hospital on 02 4647619. We are looking forward to helping you with your pet.

Some pets have Behavioural abnormalities which are so much more than just misbehaviour due to inadequate training. To help clients with these problems that often have medical, physical and neurological causes we provide a comprehensive veterinary behavioural service. If you would like to make an appointment for us to help you with these issues please ring the hospital on 02 46476199.

If you are not sure if your pet has a training problem or a behavioural abnormality we have more information below to help you. Some pets require a behavioural consultation to work out this question so please don’t hesitate to make an appointment.

Prevention is of course the best medicine!

 Prevention is the best medicine. To help prevent the problems we devote a great deal of time and commitment to providing a comprehensive education program for both Cats and Dogs. These programs are also designed to help you re educate those misbehaving pets.

 We can help clients educate their pet birds to prevent the problem behaviours. We can also help re educate those birds that are already exhibiting unacceptable behaviours.

 In our Kitten Kindy® Classes, Kitten Parenting Classes and our Cat Training Classes we routinely help people with training cats not to climb on counters, kitchen benches, table tops, use litter trays and scratching posts.

Please see our information on our this program

 By working with the fully qualified pet trainers we provide a comprehensive education program for dogs including puppy socialization classes (frequently called Puppy Pre school®), Puppy Parenting Classes, Puppy Transition classes which dove tail in with the adult dog training classes of Cath Dombroski at Doggie Diplomas.  please take the time to look at what we offer in our pet education programs.

 These programs educate the owners and carer of the pets as much as they educate the pets and help to prevent the training and behavioural issues our pets sometime develops.

 To make an appointment for your pet, please ring the hospital on 02 46476199 and we will do our best to help you make your pet the best pet it can be.

What sort of problems can we help you with?

Because we have veterinarians with extra qualifications and a particular interests in “Veterinary behaviour” and we work with fully qualified trainers, we can literally help you with any training issue, problem behaviour or behavioural abnormality your pet may have.

For those problem behaviours we provide the in-house comprehensive pet education programs and we use and recommend Canine Good Citizen/ Delta Society educated trainers. Please have a look at their web site to see how they promote positive training methods. These techniques are by far the best way to teach our pets what we expect of them. They teach the pet precisely what we want them to do, they are the most humane way, they promote a strong positive relationship between ourselves and our pets, they reduce aggression and they are far kinder and gentler on the pet and us. They allow our pets to become the best pet thay can be.

Behavioural abnormalities / problems are so much more than just misbehavor due to inadequate training. To help clients with these problems that often have medical, physical and neurological causes we provide a comprehensive veterinary behavioural service.

To determine the role of each of these causes play in the problem and how they interact with each other a detailed clinical history, a thorough physical examination, and appropriate diagnostic testing are often required.

We have helped many clients with a wide range of pets including, dogs, cats, birds, horses, alpacas and cattle.

We have developed individualized solutions and management programs for pets with aggression, anxiety, fears, phobias, obsessions, senility, compulsions, feeding, ingestive, destruction, toileting, stereotypic, training problems.

If you have any questions regarding your pet’s behaviour please ring the hospital on 02 46476199 to make an appointment so we can help your pet be the best pet they can be.

Some examples we can help you with include:

Dangerous Dogs

(Dogs declared dangerous under the Companion Animals Act NSW )

Aggressive Dogs and Cats

Dominance Aggression, Territorial Aggression, Intraspecies  Aggression (aggression to another dog), Maternal Aggression, Fear Aggression, Play Aggression, Predatory Aggression, Stranger Aggression, Owner Aggression, Idiopathic Aggression, Aggression on the lead, learned Aggression, Lunging on the lead, frustration aggression, conflict aggression, interspecies aggression (aggression to another species), Pain Aggression, Petting Induced Aggression, Possessive aggression, status related aggression, redirected aggression  etc

Predatory Behaviour

hunting,  stalking, attacking prey, wildlife, attacking, chasing, herding, mouthing, nipping, biting 


Noise phobias, Thunder phobias, thunderstorm phobias, Wind, fireworks, vets, men, children, other dogs, cats, banging, shouting, crackers, bungers, people gunshots, neo phobic, motorbikes, nail guns, children, men, strangers, trucks

Obsessive Behaviours

Dogs chasing their tails, flank sucking, licking, cats overgrooming, lick granulomas, self injurious behaviours, chewing nails, side sucking, biting nails OCD, feather plucking, picking, preening, spinning, star gazing, staring, stereotypic, wool sucking, pacing, feather loss,


Fly Catching, Air snapping, snapping, biting at air, checking back end, bottom, tail

Destructive Behaviours

Digging, chewing, pulling clothes off the line, shredding, Scratching, clawing

Toiletry Problems

Litter box problems, pooing everywhere, pooing in the house, shitting everywhere, peeing everywhere, marking, spraying, housesoiling, toilet training, house training. Cocking leg conflict urination, submissive, Particularly for indoor cats, dogs and birds

Ingestive problems

Eating clothes, bedding, stones, pebbles, plants, eating poo, toys etc

Aging problems

Doggy Alzheimer’s, senility, loss of learning, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) Feline Cognitive Dysfunction. Confusion, Sleep disorders

Sexual problem

Hyper sexuality, humping, mounting, mating

Anxiety Problems

Hyperattachment, generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, separation distress Hyper attachment Over attachment, pacing, separation anxiety worry

Vocalization Problems

Barking yowling, cater calling, meowing, screaming, screeching, whining, wingeing, crying, growling, snarling Barking, yowling, crying, winging, whining, howling, excessive vocalization, meowing, screeching, sreaming, yelping, yipping,

The list goes on and on

What causes these behavioural abnormalities/problems?

Your pet's behaviour is due to a complex interaction between its physical/psychological make-up, what your pet has previously experience and the current environment.

Any change in your pet’s physical/psychological make up or well-being can contribute to the behavioural changes like medical problems or degenerative changes associated with aging. These can also make the pet more sensitive to the environmental changes.

For example, any pet that is fearful may become more reactive, irritable, and aggressive with painful conditions like, dental disease, arthritis or anal glands disease. They often are less mobile and unable to get away from the fear-evoking stimulus like small children and other boisterous pets. Many cats learn to mark territory following a bladder infection. Curing the bladder infection and implementing a behaviour modification program is essential in resolving the problem.

Changes in the environment including changes in daily routine, a new member of the household (baby, spouse), moving, illness or injury of a family member, loss of a family member or pet, or the addition of a new pet can all affect the behaviour.

The previous experience refers to what your pet has learnt up to this point in life via the learning process (e.g. reinforcement, punishment) and this of course moulds your pets behaviour.

How your pet learns can be simply explained by explaining your pet assesses the consequences of each situation it is in.

If the consequence of a particular situation is negative, horrible, whatever you want to call it the frequency of the behaviour in the future will decrease.

The pet perceives the result of a behaviour is bad to it. We say this behaviour has been punished.

The punishment may be something we do or don’t do. We could do something nasty or take away something the pet wants.

If the pet assess a particular situation leads to something pleasant it will be more likely to repeat the behaviour in the future. In this case we say the behaviour has been reinforced or rewarded.

The pleasant thing may be something we do or don’t do. We could give the pet something it wants or we could stop doing something the pet doesn’t like.

Remember if you are banging your head against the brick wall the reward is when you stop.

We often reward a pet with something we did not intend to give the pet; like a look, a verbal interaction, attention or affection.

For example when a dog barks at us we look at it and tell it to “shut up”. If the pet likes being told to “shut up” it will repeat the behaviour.

It does not matter what we think about the reward or punishment it is up to the pet to assess whether it is good or not.

A pat from an owner may be a reward while a pat from a vet is usually seen as a punishment.

Although in practice the goal would be to use rewards to encourage desirable behaviour, undesirable behaviours are accidentally encouraged because of rewards such as the owner who allows the dog into the house when it is raining. If the dog is scared of thunder you have most probably rewarded the anxiety towards thunder.

Another example of the dog being rewarded for annoying behaviour is when a dog raids gets into the garbage bin. Just receiving the smells and food scraps is enough of a reward for the dog to repeat the behaviour.

Another common way dogs learn is when they believe their behaviour leads to unpleasant things stopping or going away. The common example is when a dog barks at the postman and the postman goes away. You and I know the postman leaves irrespective of whether the dog barks or not but the dog believes the only reason why it went away is his/her barking. This form of learning is called negative reinforcement.

It is often difficult to totally determine what motivates particular behaviour and in reality we can only surmise what the real motivations is but, if the behaviour is increasing in intensity and or frequency it means it is being reinforced some how. If it is being maintained or is on going there is some reinforcement occurring as well because if there wasn’t the dog could not be bothered performing the behaviour.

If you are having any problems with your pets behaviour please contact the hospital on 02 46476199 to make an appointment so we can help you with this problem.

Did you cause the problem by what happened when your pet was young? Or is it due to your pet’s breed?

Genetics play a large role in the development of the pet.

A few comments should be made regarding the genetics of the pet.

Firstly not only does genetics dictate whether the pet is a dog or a cat, but it also dictates whether it is male or female and or a particular breed.

Secondly to some extent the argument regarding genetics affecting behaviour is irrelevant. You cannot change the genetics of the pet you already have.

Thirdly even if the breed is more likely to develop a particular problem it does not mean this individual pet will develop the problem.

Fourthly because learning plays such a large role in behaviour it does not mean you cannot alter your pet’s behaviour. It may be difficult to improve when genetics plays such a vital role but it usually is not impossible.

The environment early in life has a significant role to play in the development of the pet. Nutritional deficiencies may affect directly the appropriate growth and neurological development. Medical conditions may also affect the development of the animal but what commonly has the greatest impact is the experiences of the animal early in life. Lack of stimulation, lack of handling, lack of exposure, insufficient socialization, and particularly stressful or traumatic events often can have a major impact on the pet’s behaviour. These can be either positive and/or negative in nature. The sensitive periods vary depending upon the species but commonly they have a sensitive period for their social development early in their life usually prior to becoming fully independent. Commonly we recognize socialization period from 3 to 12 weeks prenatal and neonatal experiences and secondary socialization and development through to maturity all have a significant affect on our domestic pet behaviour. in our domestic pets.

If you are having any problems with your pets behaviour please contact the hospital on 02 46476199 to make an appointment so we can help you with this problem.

How do we work out what is causing your pets behaviour?

A good history is the basics required to determine the cause of a behavioural problem. This involves an in depth analysis of the pet’s medical and behavioural history including a detailed questionnaire. This questionnaire also collects information regarding daily interactions, previous training, any changes in the pets environment as well as the circumstances surrounding the problem itself. Often the event that triggered the behavioural change may be different from that which maintains it. Sometimes the triggering event is no longer present in the environment. A video recording of the event can be a valuable diagnostic tool, but it must be stressed we must never encourage the abnormal behaviour just to record it. Many of these pets motto is “Practice makes Perfect.” Possibly the most important element in determining the cause of the problem and what diagnostic workup might be needed will be the clinical signs you report.

Often we determine the underlying cause by the description given by the owners. This is obvious to state considering we cannot ask the pet how it feels or if it is in pain.

A comprehensive medical work up may be worthwhile with a minimum of a physical examination and blood screen necessary in most cases. Finally a behavioural diagnosis can only be made after all medical factors have been ruled out.

If you are having any problems with your pets behaviour please contact the hospital on 02 46476199 to make an appointment so we can help you with this problem.

Are there any medical conditions that can cause my pets behavioural problems?

Many things as highlighted above can lead to behavioural problems. When pet’s senses decline (sight, hearing, etc) organs fail, hormones are out of balance, neurological diseases progress and pain develops behavioural abnormalities occur. Anything affecting mobility can also have a dramatic affect on behaviour.

In summary

Any condition that leads to an increase in pain or discomfort can lead to increased irritability, increased anxiety or fear of being handled or approached, and ultimately to increased aggressiveness. Further to this if the pet thinks the aggressiveness is successful in minimizing the pain discomfort anxiety or fear they will learn this Painful conditions commonly leading to behavioural problems include medical conditions that affect the ears, anal sacs, teeth and gums, bones, joints, or back (disks) The pet may learn to threaten more often more intensely and earlier in the situation and may even learn to bite rather than withdraw. A decrease in mobility could also affect urination and defecation by reducing the pet’s ability to utilize its elimination area.

Sensory dysfunction will often reduce the ability of the pet to interact with their environment. They may not perceive your presence or commands. If they are fearful they may panic more frequently because they do not detect the threatening stimulus until it is right upon them. This is more common in aging pets.

Diseases of the internal organs often do not lead to any external changes. They may lead to painful situations that will contribute to the behaviour as elicited above or they may lead to behavioural changes due to toxic metabolites within the animal. Again this problem is more common in older animals. House soiling may be caused by any problem affecting the bladder or bowel and must be dealt with prior to resolving the behavioural issues.

Diseases of the nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of course can lead to dramatic changes in behaviour or personality. Fitting, brain infections, tumours degenerative diseases and immune mediated conditions can all impact on behaviour. Aging can lead to significant changes in the brain and lead to conditions affecting their cognitive function leading to conditions similar to human senility.

Increase or decrease in any hormones often have dramatic affects on the physical well being of the pet but they also affect the pet’s behaviour. The common glands involved are the thyroid, the parathyroid glands (in the neck), the pituitary gland (in the brain), the adrenal gland (by the kidneys), the pancreas, and the reproductive organs. Endocrine disorders are more likely to arise as the pet ages.

The aging process is associated with progressive and irreversible changes of the body systems. Although these changes are often considered individually, the elderly pet is seldom afflicted with a single disease, but rather with varying degrees of organ disease and dysfunction. Cognitive decline and senility have also been recognized in older dogs and cats. We have a senility screen available and information available on this debilitating disease.

If you are having any problems with your pets behaviour please contact Jess at the hospital on 02 46476199 to make an appointment so we can help you with this problem.

If you have any other questions regarding any of these matters please contact the hospital 02 46 476 199 and speak to our qualified nurses.

Precise of services avaialable:


Is provided in a routine consultation of 15 minutes duration including a clinical examination of a pet when present and an interview.

This is aimed at determining if a Behavioural consultation will be beneficial to your pet.



Involves a comprehensive behavioural assessment of an animal, including a comprehensive questionnaire, the initial extended consultation (approx 1 hour in duration), Printed information sheets and a follow up phone call (approx 15 mins) or an equivalent consultation usually 3 weeks later, and email for dealing with some questions raised in the month following the initial extended consultation. This assessment is aimed at identifying all of the behavioural problems affecting your pet, describing an accurate prognosis and developing a behavioural modification programme aimed at dealing with your pet’s behavioural issues. It takes a great deal of time on your behalf if done properly and takes multiple hours of assessment on the veterinarian behalf.

The fee for dealing with multiple pets is usually less per animal but, due to the complexities of multiple pets in a house-hold can be extremely difficult and time consuming. We are unable to estimate the fees at the beginning of the assessment. We do our best to inform the client of fees incurred as soon as we are aware of them.



Associated with medical assessment, sample collection etc



Dependent upon test required.

Commonly there is a comprehensive test to start with followed by regular screening for liver and kidney function when the pets are maintained on medications.



Where required:

Use of Audio visual equipment etc some times facilitates the assessment of the behaviour and removes the necessity for Home visits.

Basic visit fee including the first 30 minutes then an hourly fee as well as travel fees apply.




Where required basic hourly rates apply.


If you have any further enquiries or you would like to make an appointment please contact the hospital on 4647 6199


* Fees and charges may change at any time without notification

If you would like to proceed with a behavioural consultation please click on the appropriate link.

If you would like to proceed with the behavioural consultation click on the appropriate link and complete the online questionnaire. You can save it and come back to it at any time and when you have finished it and submitt the form it will come straight back to us so we can start assessing your pet and organize an appointment.

Canine Behavioural Consultation.   

Feline Behavioural Consultation.

If you have any questions please ring the hospital on 46476199 or if you would like further information please email Jess at reception.betterbehavedpets@gmail.com and we will be in touch with you.

Looking forward to helping you with your pet's behavioural problems.