Behavioral Medicine

Behavior Modification Therapy for Proper Pet Training

The objective of the Behavior Department is to provide solutions to your petís behavior problems by providing high quality veterinary care and humane behavior modification therapy. We combine scientific principles of animal learning with sensitivity for the special role your pet plays in your life. By providing solutions to your petís behavior problems, we enhance the human-animal bond in your family.

Our methods are humane, gentle, proven and based on behavior modification, counter-conditioning, desensitization, environmental modification, proper positive reinforcement techniques and owner education. Appropriate medications will be prescribed as necessary and as adjunctive treatment to the behavior modification plan.

Because there is often a close relationship between medical conditions and animal behavior, we ask that you first discuss your petís behavior problem with your regular veterinarian. Once your pet is evaluated for medical conditions, your veterinarian may then refer you to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services for a behavior consultation.

Since we reserve a one to two-hour appointment for you, we appreciate the courtesy of early notification if you wish to cancel or re-schedule your appointment. Your appointment reservation fee of $50 per hour is fully refunded without penalty if you provide 48 hours notice of cancellation/rescheduling prior to your scheduled appointment. If assessment consults or recheck appointments are not cancelled or attended, you will be charged the full amount of the consultation.

Questionnaires Ė Prior to your consultation you will need to complete a questionnaire about your pet and his behavior problem. Detailed and specific information about your pet allows a specific and tailored behavior modification program. These are general forms and not all questions will apply to every pet and situation. It is not necessary to repeat information in multiple areas of the forms. Please include any additional unique information you think will be helpful. Typed or emailed responses are preferred but you may mail, fax or drop off completed questionnaires. Kindly return your forms at least 5 days before your consultation. Dr. DePorter will review all questionnaires before the consultation and will prepare a behavior modification program in advance. Amendments will be made during the consultation but your time with the doctor will be most efficient if she has been able to prepare for your appointment in advance. All questionnaires are available on the website Ė please contact us promptly if you have any questions. Please bring copies of all completed materials to your appointment.

Note: If you are not able to complete the forms or would prefer a personal history rather than a written one, schedule 2 different 2 hour appointments a week apart- the first will be for history only and the second will be for treatment.

Behavior Questionnaire - Dogs

Behavior Questionnaire - Cats

Rechecks - We have found the patients who follow a regular recheck schedule in the first 90 days after the behavior consultation show the most improvement and long-term success. Most pets will require monthly rechecks for 1 to 4 months or as needed. We do require a $50.00 per hour deposit to hold your appointment; the deposit will be applied to the charges incurred at your initial appointment.

Follow-up Questionnaire

Medication refill only appointment

Questions About Behavioral Medicine

Can you guarantee that you can fix my petsí behavior problem?
Due to the complex nature of behavior problems and the familyís responsibility to execute the behavior modification program, it is not possible to guarantee the desired results. Dr. DePorter will advise you if treating your petís behavior problem is right for your pet, your family and situation. Because it is necessary to gather as much information as possible and come to an educated diagnosis and prognosis, itís best that you complete all questionnaires and we meet you and your pet first. Dr. DePorter will spend about 30 minutes discussing the problems that you are having. Then we will discuss prognosis, risk factors and likelihood for a successful outcome. If you have serious concerns that treatment may not be an option for your pet, we can set up a one-hour discussion only consult. On the other hand, if you schedule a 2-hour consultation and it is determined that treatment is not realistic, you will only be charged for the time used. Be advised, these are complex, difficult and emotional issues, for very severe cases we may need 2 hours to discuss prognosis and risk factors if the family is undecided about pursuing treatment. Ideally your family should be prepared to try a minimum of 1 month of behavior modification therapy before giving up on your petís potential for improvement.
Will my pet need to be put on medication?
Medication may be recommended along with behavior modification therapy for successful resolution of your petís behavior problem. Once Dr. DePorter determines the behavioral diagnosis for your pet, she can determine if medication will be recommended. (Medication is recommended in about 1/3 of all behavior cases.) We will discuss risks, benefits and appropriate expectations for your petís medication. Your pet will not be sedated and should not be sluggish or groggy while taking medication for behavior problems. Most pets will be weaned off their medication once their problem is resolved: occasionally a pet may require medication for life.
How often will I need to return for treatment?
In most cases, we recommend you return once monthly for 1-4 months. This varies with each patient and we tailor our recommendations to best fit your needs.
What if my petís problem is not treatable?
Rarely do we encounter a pet whose behavior problem would not benefit from an appropriate and complete behavior modification program. Do not be discouraged from scheduling if trainers have told you your pet should be euthanized. Often these pets have been misdiagnosed and then an inappropriate training program has been applied Ė the result is a pet whose behavior deteriorates. Dr. DePorter will discuss prognosis, expectations, realistic restrictions and management of your petís behavior in addition to discussion of an appropriate behavior modification program. Dr. DePorter will advise you if this is a reasonable program to pursue considering your skills, the severity of your petís problem and the danger your pet presents to your family and others.
Iím afraid I canít afford your services, what should I do?
We work closely with a company called CareCredit®. They are a third party company that provides loans and long-term payment plans.. You can contact them at
Why should I seek help from a veterinary behaviorist?


Our Behavioral Medicine Expertise

  • Canine and feline behavior services offered
    • Aggression
    • Destructive behaviors
    • Elimination problems
    • Fears, anxieties and phobias
    • New pet counseling
    • Puppy or kitten problems
    • Separation anxiety
    • Training difficulties
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Tour Our Behavioral Medicine Department

Meet Our Veterinarian

Saundra Hewitt Photo

Theresa DePorter, DVM, MRCVS
Diplomate, ACVB and European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine


Theresa DePorter is board certified diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Behavior (ACVB) and the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine (ECAWBM). She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Purdue University and her Bachelor Science in Biology in 1992. She has been seeing behavior consultations at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services in metropolitan Detroit, Michigan since 2004.

Meet Our Behavior Technician

Do your cats bicker, brawl or argue?

Aggression between housemate cats may continue for years. There is hope for peace. Please contact our veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Theresa DePorter to see if your cats would qualify to participate in a clinical trial. Hurry, the trial will be over in July and many households may enroll at each meeting.

Final enrollment opportunities. Volunteers only attend one meeting:

June 3rd OVRS - Bloomfield Hills, MI 2pm or 6pm

June 12th Capital Area Humane Society Lansing, MI 2pm or 6pm

June 17th OVRS- Bloomfield Hills, MI 2pm or 6pm

June 19th Michigan Humane Society- Westland, MI 1pm

July 8th OVRS - Bloomfield Hills, MI 2pm

July 10th The Anti-Cruelty Society - Chicago, IL 3 meetings TBD

Contact OVRS at 248-334-6877 or to prequalify.

Click here for a flyer with more information.

Department Hours

Our department is open
Monday through Thursday.

Hours are by appointment only.

Compassionate, science-based approach to the treatment of behavioral disorders for our canine companions

Should I Use the Dog Training Methods I See on TV?

Welfare in Dog Training

Society for Veterinary Behavior Technicians

Current Behavior Patients

Click here to access resources for current behavior patients. Please email if you are a current patient and would like to request access.

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