Because pets and people are different species, when they live side by side, troubling situations can easily arise. Pets frequently have behavior problems, and many of these circumstances can result in injury and threaten the pet-owner relationship. Worse, pets who have severe behavior issues are often euthanized or relinquished. Rest assured, we recognize that primary veterinary practitioners can help their patients overcome inappropriate behavior issues. However, if a patient’s problems are severe, you may need to recommend that their owner consult with a behavior specialist to help resolve the issues. 

Our VESPECON team includes specialists from all disciplines, including behavioral medicine. Our team members work together to help you address your patients’ most challenging issues. We’re profiling each of our specialists to help you get to know them better and feel more comfortable consulting with them face-to-face. 

Here, we introduce veterinarian Dr. Rolan Tripp, DVM, CABC, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)-certified canine and feline behaviorist. In addition to his behavior certification and experience, Dr. Tripp is an accomplished international speaker with a unique educational background. He has served as a consultant and appeared on several “Animal Planet” episodes. Get to know Dr. Tripp and learn about his life in and away from veterinary medicine.

Veterinary behavior: A day in the life

Veterinary behaviorists spend their days working directly with patients and pet owners to develop reasonable and realistic goals and a plan to achieve them. Much of a behaviorist’s daily routine involves client education about behavior conditions, basic behavior modification and training principles, and training myths and misinformation that may be contributing to a pet’s issues. At the same time, they are reassuring pet owners and helping them avoid feeling shame about their pet’s problem.

Before developing a pet’s individualized treatment protocol, a behaviorist conducts or recommends a physical examination and basic diagnostic testing to rule out medical conditions that may be affecting a patient’s behavior issues. These specialists also work closely with veterinary technicians and professional trainers to help pet owners implement, continue to follow, and adjust their pets’ treatment plans. In addition, a behaviorist may conduct research, volunteer with rescue or shelter organizations, teach, hold CE seminars, or consult remotely.

What disorders does a veterinary behavior specialist treat?

Veterinary behaviorists diagnose and treat various behavioral disorders in dogs, cats, and occasionally other species. Many patients presenting to a behaviorist have multiple or overlapping conditions causing their troublesome signs. A behaviorist’s patients may have one or more of these common conditions:

  • Generalized anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Leash reactivity
  • Barrier or confinement frustration
  • Noise phobia
  • Aggression toward people or other pets
  • Fear-related behaviors
  • Inappropriate elimination

Dr. Rolan Tripp: Questions and answers

Get to know Dr. Tripp on a more personal level. Read his responses to our questions about his background and why he chose to become a veterinary behavioral specialist.

Question: What is your veterinary educational background?
Answer: I have a BA in music and a minor in philosophy (logic and ethics) from California State University, Los Angeles. I completed my DVM at the University of California, Davis in 1979.

Q: Where are you from, and where do you currently live?
A: I am from Los Angeles, California, and live there still.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a veterinary specialty?
A: My practice is limited to behavior medicine out of a deep interest in understanding how life works.

Q: What do you enjoy most about veterinary behavior medicine?
A: Every case is unique. I am able to help both the pet and the pet parent.

Q: What has been your most fulfilling or interesting case as a veterinary specialist?
A: I find my discipline’s gradually deeper understanding of how psychological stress impacts physiological health the most fulfilling.

Q: Tell us about your two- or four-legged family members.
A: Gavin is a 6-year-old Sheltie who has opinions on everything!

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I like drumming with my classic rock band, playing songs that were current when our group was formed.

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies or special talents?
A: Percussion performance and historical storytelling.

Q: What is the most interesting place to which you have traveled? Any destinations on your bucket list?
A: The most unique place I’ve visited is the ice bar in Switzerland. The entire facility, including the bar, chairs, and glasses, is made from ice.

VESPECON offers consulting services on our virtual video chat platform, so you can connect with our specialists face-to-face and get answers when you need them most. Our multidisciplinary team works together to solve your toughest cases. Visit our website to initiate a consultation with Dr. Tripp or any of our other specialists. Sign up to start consulting today.