Answers to our most common questions!

What is a veterinary behaviorist?

A veterinary behaviorist is a veterinarian who has completed a specialized training program in veterinary behavior and achieved board certification.  After earning a veterinary degree and completing an internship, a veterinarian may apply for a residency or training program in veterinary behavior. See for more information.

How is a veterinary behaviorist different from a dog trainer?

Dog trainers can help you train your dog. Most trainers offer foundation courses to help young dogs develop to their fullest potential. Some trainers will help owners with behavior modification for certain behavior problems.  Dogs with complex behavior problems, including aggression, generally need a full behavioral assessment by a veterinary behaviorist. Underlying medical problems can contribute to the development of serious behavior problems.  A dog trainer can be part of the team that helps you implement the behavior modification plan. 

What is a certified dog trainer or behaviorist?

You may find that some individuals with no specific credentials will use these terms. It is important to learn about the education and credentials of the “certified trainer” or “behaviorist.” 

Do I need a veterinary behaviorist?

Veterinary behaviorists are veterinarians trained to treat conditions that are purely behavioral as well as those conditions that may have an underlying medical basis. If you already have worked with a trainer and the problem is not responding, then an evaluation by a veterinary behaviorist is recommended.  

How much time per day will I need to spend training my dog after the consultation?

Most behavior modification exercises require only a few minutes of practice each day. 

What is the prognosis of a behavior problem?

The outcome or prognosis for an individual pet is impacted by many factors. Underlying medical conditions, the number and severity of behavioral concerns, and the dynamics of the people in the household can impact the success of treatment.

How many visits will I need?

Once Dr. Rigterink has evaluated your pet, she will be able to determine an appropriate follow-up schedule for you. When rechecks are advised, they usually are spaced about 8-12 weeks apart. 

Can you provide an assessment or offer advice by telephone or by email?

Veterinarians must establish a valid veterinarian – client – patient relationship before offering any diagnosis or specific treatment advice.  If you live a great distance away, follow-up appointments may be done by Skype and/or telephone.

Does my pet need to exhibit the behavior?

It usually is not necessary for Dr. Rigterink to see your pet engaging in a problematic behavior. Many behavior problems are rooted in fear and anxiety, and as a result, it can be detrimental to attempt to elicit the behavior for any reason. In fact, treatment of a behavior disorder is most successful when the pet is not motivated to perform the problem behavior.

What if I don't want my pet to take medication?

A recommendation to use medication will be based on several factors. First, the behavioral diagnosis and prognosis will be considered.  In addition, your pet’s overall health and your preferences will be considered before any medication is prescribed. Dr. Rigterink will explain her recommendations and encourage you to consult with your primary care veterinarian if you have any special concerns.

Do you have a cancellation policy?

When you schedule an initial consultation, we will ask for a credit card to reserve the appointment slot. The $100 reservation fee is non-refundable and will be applied to the cost of your pet’s appointment.

If you reschedule more than 72 hours in advance of your original appointment date, we will apply the reservation fee to your new appointment. If an appointment is cancelled or is rescheduled less than 72 hours in advance of the scheduled appointment, the $100 reservation fee will be forfeited, and no refund will be given. However, we understand that unexpected problems can occur. If another appointment is scheduled and completed within three months of the date of the original appointment, the cancellation charge will be applied a single time to the rescheduled appointment.

Contact Us


Located INSIDE Pleasant Paws Veterinary Care

1375 South Lebanon Street #100
Lebanon, Indiana 46052

Office Hours

Mon: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Tues: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Thurs: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Consultations are scheduled by appointment only.

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