Soraya V. Juarbe-Diaz, DVM, DACVB

Veterinary Behaviorist in west central Florida

Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorists are specialists in veterinary behavior medicine. Also called diplomates, they are veterinarians that undergo 3-5 more years of specialty training in a residency program that includes study of ethology, abnormal behavior, neurology, neuropharmacology, and other related topics. They also teach, see cases under the mentor's supervision, and perform an original experiment; the results must be published in a  a peer-reviewed journal. Finally, they must pass a comprehensive 2 day, 16 hr. examination. Some work in universities or with industry or non-profit groups. Because we are veterinarians, we are held to a high standard of practice by law. Trainers, pet counselors or self-titled behaviorists that are not veterinarians have limited or no accountability. Do your homework and find exactly what their qualifications are beyond what they are claiming to be.

Most cases that present to a veterinary behaviorist are pets displaying abnormal behaviors. The problems are not due to willful disobedience, training deficiencies or vengeful pets. Fortunately for us, animals do things for different reasons than we do. While some actions may look like revenge, spitefulness or defiance, once you understand a behavior from the point of view of the specific animal species, a different explanation becomes clear. Working with animals is not about dominating them or teaching them who is boss; you do have to set rules but once you understand how learning take place, you can teach the rules without resorting to fear, pain or force.


The treatment of behavior disorders takes time and commitment on the owners' part and no 2 treatments are exactly alike. The owners' follow-up care is a vital part of the pet's treatment. Quick fixes seldom exist when you are treating complex problems and when they are used they seldom lead to lasting change. Unlike what product marketers, TV shows and late night ads want you to believe, there is no "Easy" button or silver bullet that gives you an instantly obedient and perfect pet.

You will come across many training styles, systems and "methods," many named or trademarked by a person. As the name implies, a trademark is about protecting goods or products being sold in a trade. 
Dr JD is interested in your pet's well-being, first and foremost. She continually revises her methods based on the latest behavioral and cognitive research, not fads or opinion. She will not compund the problem by making your pet more scared or anxious, or by inflicting pain for the sake of getting results or keeping up an image.

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