On Wednesday, October 10 2012, Eltham Veterinary Practice staged the “Behaviour Pet Information Night” at the Eltham Community Centre. Keynote Speaker was Dr Gabrielle Carter, noted Melbourne based Animal Behaviourist.

Close to 80 Pet Owners turned out, and they were fortunate to enjoy a very informative evening, and some good laughs courtesy of Dr Gus Braniff’s slightly irreverent but humorous stories.

Dr Steve Pryor spoke first, and his topic was “environmental enrichment”, that is making your pets life as interesting as possible. He made several good points including putting more interest in a pets life will lessen the likelihood of behavioural problems developing. He gave the example of separation anxiety, where pets become highly distressed, and sometimes destructive when left alone. Creating a more interesting environment with food puzzles, games, regular walks is a great preventative for this nasty condition.

Second Speaker was Dr Mina Hamilton, who covered toileting problems in pets. She had some great tips on toilet training your pet, as well as how to proceed if accidents start occurring in older pets. Often there can be an underlying medical problem so she stressed the importance of a thorough check up when toilet training is lost.

Last but not least, Dr Gabrielle Carter had the Audience thoroughly engrossed as she talked about body language in dogs. Can you talk dog?? Gabrielle now communicates with her dog by blinking! Yes blinking! Another dog behaviour people don’t understand well is when a dog is yawning. Rather than being tired, he is actually nervous. Likewise for licking.

Gabrielle also discussed noise phobias to things like thunderstorms and fireworks. She mentioned that wearing a “Thundershirt” can often help calm dogs down, and that Dog Appeasement Pheromone (DAP) was another successful strategy. She also made the point that many anxious pets will gradually desensitize when on medication, easier and more effective that other desensitisation programs.

Again we got a lot of positive feedback from attendees and based on peoples enthusiasm we will continue to run a regular information night each year in October. We are therefore looking forward to another interesting topic next year.

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