Welcome To Acorn House Veterinary Hospital


The veterinary behaviour service at Acorn House is led by Katharine Nelson MA MSc VetMB GPCert (SAM)  PGCert(SAS) MRCVS

RCVS Advanced Veterinary Practitioner in Clinical Animal Behaviour

Katharine holds the MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour from Lincoln University and has been recognised by the RCVS as an Advanced Veterinary Practitioner in this field.

Katharine is able to advise on behaviour issues in cats and dogs. Commonly reported behaviour problems include:

  • House soiling and urine marking (cats and dogs)
  • Aggression or reactivity towards other animals (inside and outside of the home)
  • Aggression towards familiar people within the home
  • Aggression or reactivity towards strangers inside and outside of the home
  • Barking
  • Compulsive behaviours such as tail-chasing, self-mutilation, overgrooming, pacing
  • Separation related problems
  • Noise phobias and other anxiety problems
  • Difficulties with sleeping patterns

Pets with behaviour problems cannot be assessed and diagnosed in a standard 15 minute veterinary consultation. The usual process involves the owner completing a questionnaire to provide general background information and then detailed information about the current behaviour problem and this is reviewed by Katharine. The pet must then receive a thorough medical examination to check for any medical issues that might be causing or aggravating the behavioural issue (common offenders include musculoskeletal pain, hormonal imbalances, anal sac inflammation, skin conditions, thyroid disorders). Depending on the type of problem being investigated, and any suspicious findings on the examination, blood tests, urine tests, Xrays or ultrasound scans may be offered where appropriate.

After this initial assessment Katharine will provide you with an initial behaviour assessment including a summary of behaviour and background; review of medical factors; risk assessment; realistic expectation for change; and initial behavioural advice on immediate home management of the problem behaviour and how to prevent the problem from worsening. 

For some types of behaviour problem, this assessment will include all of the advice that you need to resolve the problems that you are having with your pet. However, for many of the more complex behaviours, it will then be necessary to arrange for a behaviourist to visit your pet in your home (or out on a walk, if this is where the problem occurs). The behaviourist can then build on the initial behaviour assessment to develop a more detailed understanding of why the behaviour is occurring and how it can be improved. They can try out different management and training techniques and teach you how to use them with your pet. We recommend that an APBC-accredited behaviourist makes this visit. Our two closest APBC members are Laura Travis (based in St Neots) and Ellena Hinson (based in Milton Keynes) and both are happy to provide house visits in Bedford and the surrounding areas. Please be aware that these behaviourists are not permitted to undertake this work until the pet has been medically evaluated by a veterinary surgeon.

The behaviourist will provide you with a separate report reminding you of the detailed techniques that they have demonstrated and recommended that you use with your pet. They will be able to provide follow-up visits or advice by telephone or email after the initial visit. Katharine will liaise with the behaviourist if further veterinary input is required (for example, if the behaviourist feels that the management and training techniques are not sufficient on their own, and would like Katharine to advise on and prescribe behaviour-altering medications).


Initial behaviour assessment (provision of behaviour questionnaire, review of questionnaire by Katharine, 30 minute appointment at the surgery with Katharine to carry out a thorough health check including gait evaluation, provision of written initial behaviour assessment and advice, and referral to APBC behaviourist as appropriate) - £108.30

Urine tests, blood tests if needed - can be carried out at the time of the above appointment - charged at standard rates

House visit by APBC behaviourist - generally cost in the region of £177.37-284.83 but these behaviourists are separate to Acorn House and fees should be confirmed directly with the behaviourist prior to the visit. Please be aware that these behaviourists are not vets and will not provide behavioural services until your pet has been medically evaluated and referred by a veterinary surgeon. Contact details of the two APBC behaviourists mentioned above are:

Laura Travis:

St Neots Dog Training; 07790024766; pet.behaviour@ymail.com

Ellena Hinson:

07463 090783 ; www.pet-behaviour-therapy.co.uk

Medication to support behaviour (for example to treat any associated medical conditions, relieve anxiety or impulsivity, assist with sleep disturbance) if recommended by Katharine or another veterinary surgeon - charged at standard rates

Many insurance policies cover behavioural consultations, investigation and treatment (including both behavioural and medical aspects).

Please contact the surgery if you would like to book an appointment, request a questionnaire to fill in, or discuss things further. Of course, all of our veterinary surgeons and nurses are happy to answer routine questions regarding training, behaviour and management.





Canine behaviour questionnaire

Feline behaviour questionnaire

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Acorn House Veterinary Surgery
Linnet Way, Brickhill, Bedford, MK41 7HN