5 Signs Your Pet Needs Professional Help


I’m very much a Do-It-Yourself person– so much so that I consider it a fault. I will absolutely try to do something by myself and learn a new skill if I think that I can. I see this with a lot of my clients, too. They originally tried to tackle their pet’s maladaptive behaviors by themselves and eventually found their way to getting professional help. 

In many of those situations I wish that they’d contacted a professional sooner. Sometimes that’s because they’ve tried something that has actually worsened the behavior or because they waited until it was more serious or dangerous before getting a professional involved. But there are other times I wish they’d contacted a professional sooner simply because it’s easier to change a behavior that’s been happening for less time. Well-established habits are harder to change. 

I then occasionally get cases where someone has just adopted an animal and reaches out to our team immediately. In those situations we’re almost always asked, “Do you think it’s too soon for us to see you? Should we wait a bit?” Our answer is usually a resounding, “no, it was a great decision to involve us so quickly!” 

So, as someone who is a staunch DIY-er, who tries to tackle problems without additional help, but also recognizes that getting a professional involved sooner rather than later can be beneficial, I thought it’d be helpful to discuss some key signs that would cause me to recommend someone seek professional help for their pets’ behavior. 


  1. Safety is on the line. This could be the safety of you, your pet, another human, or another animal. If any individual’s safety is at risk you should immediately seek the help of a behavior professional. 
  2. It’s a behavior you haven’t dealt with before or dealt with recently. It’s much better to learn something from a professional the first time around instead of trying your hand at something you’re not experienced with. And, if you haven’t dealt with this particular issue recently, chances are that there are now more effective or empowering ways to work with the behavior and it’s time to update your skills. This field is constantly growing and evolving and that’s a good thing!
  3. You’re not making progress. If you’ve been working on your pet’s behavior for a few months and you’re not making any progress, it’s time to call in a professional. Save yourself the time and hassle by getting help. 
  4. You’re having to resort to more forceful tools and methods. It’s a myth that certain animals need more forceful tools or methods. We work with aggressive animals of all shapes and sizes for a living and can do so in a way that’s empowering and empathetic towards our animal learner. If you’re stuck and finding yourself reaching towards more forceful tools and training methods, it’s time to get help from a behavior professional who can keep you working in a Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) way.
  5. You want to make sure you’re doing something well and as efficiently as possible. There are plenty of things that I choose to muddle through myself, knowing that it would be more efficient if a professional did it. However, there are other things that I want done well the first time and don’t feel that I can afford the mistakes that come with learning (like our business taxes). If you feel that way about your pet’s behavioral and mental health, then look for a professional sooner rather than later. 


Now what?


Happy training!