For an appointment call: 415-554-3000

BEHAVIOR SPECIALTY SERVICE

Veterinary behavior is one of many specialties within veterinary medicine. It requires board certification, and practitioners provide the most comprehensive behavior assessment available for your pet. 

Dr. Jeannine Berger is one of only six double board-certified veterinarians in the world specializing in behavior and welfare. She is highly regarded by her clients and has successfully treated many serious behavior problems in dogs, cats, and horses. Read more about Dr. Berger.  

New Patients (Due to high demand, new patients are seen only on a referral basis):
If your pet has not had a previous appointment with Dr. Berger, you will need a referral from your regular veterinarian. Your pet needs to have had an exam within the past six months and a referral note or email from your regular veterinarian in order to schedule an appointment with Dr. Berger.

Alternatively, you can schedule a triage behavior appointment with one of Dr. Berger’s highly trained behavior technicians to get a preliminary evaluation and, if needed, a referral to Dr. Berger. 

Behavior Technician Triage Appointment: 45 minutes, $180

Behavior Technicians are Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) that specialize in behavior.  A Behavior Technician will assess your pet’s situation and help determine the type of service needed.  The Behavior Technician can also provide your pet with a safety and management plan, exercises and recommended tools to help manage its behavior, and recommend further intervention if warranted.

Full Diagnostic Behavior Consultation: 60 minutes, $475 (Requires a triage appointment or referral)

If your pet is showing signs of fear and anxiety  aggression, hyper-excitability, sudden changes in behavior, self-injury, obsessive compulsive-type behaviors, age-related changes or if you have worked with a trainer and your pet can’t seem to learn or has  plateaued in spite of positive reinforcement training, you should see Dr. Berger for a full diagnostic evaluation.

A full consult with Dr. Berger includes:

  • An in-depth behavior assessment, evaluation, diagnosis and prognosis discussion that will offer guidance and steps toward healing
  • An initial treatment and management plan, including cost and time commitment involved
  • A determination as to whether psychotropic medication therapy is needed
     

Once you have received a diagnosis and a treatment recommendation, it is vital to receive ongoing coaching from a qualified Behavior Technician to ensure your pet’s individually tailored treatment plan is working. If medications are part of the treatment plan, ongoing assessments by Dr. Berger and regular blood work also will be required.

Prior to your appointment with Dr. Berger or a Behavior Technician:

History forms must be filled out and returned to the SF SPCA at least 72 hours before your appointment. If we do not receive your history forms at least 72 hours before your appointment, your appointment will need to be rescheduled.   History forms provide us with background information that we don’t have time to go over in the appointment.

Please choose the form that best fits the main behavior concern.

Please download and complete the appropriate form and email it to us at behaviorinfo@sfspca.org or fax it to 415-962-2495

Behavior Technicians can also provide help with:

  • Dealing with your pet’s aversion to visiting the vet or groomer
  • Desensitization to harnesses or head halters
  • Leash-handling guidance
  • Advice on how to handle fears of specific objects or surfaces
  • Help with manners, including how to ensure proper greetings or stop annoying  behaviors like stealing toys
  • One-on-one training for nuisance behaviors in pets who may not be suited to participate in SF SPCA training classes offered in a classroom setting
  • Help dealing with issues like impulse control or  crate/kennel issues
  • Help with selecting the right type of pet for your lifestyle and home environment
  • Match-making for second pets
     

Contact us at 415-554-3000 to learn more about scheduling and pricing for these services.

For further information, please refer to these FAQs