For an appointment call: 415-554-3000

BEHAVIOR SPECIALTY SERVICE

Veterinary behavior is one of many specialties within veterinary medicine. It requires board certification, and practitioners provide the most comprehensive behavior assessment available for your pet. 

Dr. Wailani Sung is one of 74 Board certified veterinary behaviorists in the United States. She comes to us from Seattle, where she has practiced veterinary behavior medicine since 2010. Dr. Sung obtained her Master's degree and Doctorate in Psychology with a special interest in animal behavior from the University of Georgia. Upon completion of her graduate degrees, Dr. Sung enrolled at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia where she graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Dr. Sung practiced general medicine, emergency, exotics and behavioral medicine in Arizona for five years. She has been working as a behavior consultant since 1995. Read more about Dr. Sung.

Dr. Jeannine Berger is one of only six double board-certified veterinarians in the world specializing in behavior and welfare and in addition to practicing veterinary behavior medicine at the specialty clinic, she serves as the VP of Rescue and Welfare at the SF SPCA. She is highly regarded by her clients and colleagues and has successfully treated and consulted on many serious behavior problems in dogs, cats, and horses. Read more about Dr. Berger.  At this time Dr. Berger does not accept new patients at the hospital. Dr. Berger is available for Shelters and Rescue Organizations to consult on behavior and welfare cases.

New Patients

Behavior Technician Triage Appointment: 45 minutes, $180

If you are not sure if you are ready for a full diagnostic consultation with the specialist, you can submit your history form to our service. A Behavior Technician, a Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) that specializes in behavior, will assess the form and help you determine the type of service needed to help you achieve your goals.  The Behavior Technician can provide you with a safety and management plan, exercises and recommended tools to help manage your pet's behavior, and recommend further intervention if warranted. Any pet with signs of aggression or any bite history will require a diagnosis and full evaluation by the specialist.

Full Diagnostic Behavior Consultation: 60 minutes, $475

If your pet is showing signs of fear and anxiety, aggression, hyper-excitability, sudden changes in behavior, self-injury, obsessive compulsive-type behaviors, age-related changes or if you have worked with a trainer and your pet can’t seem to learn or has plateaued in spite of positive reinforcement training, or you find yourself having to punish the behavior rather than building a positive relationship with your pet, you should see Dr. Sung for a full diagnostic evaluation.

A full behavioral specialty consult with our Doctors includes:

  • An in-depth behavior assessment, evaluation, diagnosis and prognosis discussion that will offer guidance and steps toward healing
  • An initial treatment and management plan, including cost and time commitment involved
  • A determination as to whether psychotropic medication therapy is needed
     

Keep in mind that only a veterinarian can diagnose your animal and recommend a comprehensive treatment plan. Once you have received a diagnosis and a treatment recommendation, it is vital to receive ongoing coaching from our qualified Behavior Team to ensure your pet’s individually tailored treatment plan is working and we achieve the goals we did set. If medications are part of the treatment plan, ongoing assessments by Dr. Sung and regular blood work will be required.

Prior to your appointment with Dr. Sung or a Behavior Technician:

History forms must be filled out and returned to the SF SPCA at least 72 hours before your appointment. If we do not receive your history forms at least 72 hours before your appointment, your appointment may need to be rescheduled.   History forms provide us with background information and allow us to prepare properly for your appointment as time is limited. It also helps us guide as to what tier of service might be needed.

Please choose the form that best fits the main behavior concern.

Please download and complete the appropriate form and email it to us at behaviorinfo@sfspca.org or fax it to 415-962-2495

Behavior Technicians can also provide help with:

  • Dealing with your pet’s aversion to visiting the vet or groomer
  • Desensitization to harnesses or head halters
  • Leash-handling guidance
  • Advice on how to handle fears of specific objects or surfaces
  • Help with manners, including how to ensure proper greetings or stop annoying  behaviors like stealing toys
  • One-on-one training for nuisance behaviors in pets who may not be suited to participate in SF SPCA training classes offered in a classroom setting
  • Help to deal with issues like impulse control or crate/kennel issues
  • Help with selecting the right type of pet for your lifestyle and home environment
  • Match-making for second pets
     

Contact us at 415-554-3000 to learn more about scheduling and pricing for these services.

For further information, please refer to these FAQs