Not many people know the name of Keller Breland outside marine mammal and dog training. Keller Breland was B.F. Skinner's first graduate student at University of Minnesota – before Skinner became the icon of behavioral psychology, AKA behavior analysis.
One aspect of veterinary behavioral therapy is the use of psychotropic drugs to control behavior. To set the context for my comments, I am not a veterinarian. I do not claim any direct working knowledge of these drugs – but I routinely work with animals who do.
In the late 1930's, Burrhus Frederick (B.F.) Skinner wrote his magnum opus, The Behavior of Organisms. Today, his perspective on behavior is the foundation for almost all behavioral fields that deal with non-verbal animals. Skinner is the foundation for the term operant conditioning, or "learning by consequences."
One of the areas that is not covered in detail in most veterinary schools is safe handling practices. Likewise, once you get to a veterinary practice there are rarely opportunities to become highly skilled at this art.
Cats pose a significant problem for behavior therapists. First, most cat owners are attracted to them because of the perception that they don't need to be trained. The number of cats with any kind of formal repertoire is minute.
Sophie is a four-year-old Labrador retriever. She was one of ten pups and lived exactly as they did. She wasn't roughly handled or neglected. She wasn't subjected to loud noises that weren't also heard by the whole litter.
One of the major problems with behavior modification for pet owners is that they are not professional trainers. They rarely possess the knowledge or skills necessary to control their animal's behavior under the best of circumstances.