#104: A Dedication To Difficult Dogs: How Getting Better At Behaviour Medicine Can Make You Happier. With Dr Dennis Wormald.

Join us as we chat with the incredible Dr Dennis Wormald, and discover why he wants us to take another look at the word – difficult – when it comes to our patients.

Dennis is not your run-of-the-mill vet; he’s a bona fide canine behaviour enthusiast and his fascination with understanding and addressing the quirks of our four-legged friends began long before he donned his vet hat. Back in the day, he was knee-deep in biomedical science with a major in neuroscience, and he even dabbled in the world of addiction neuroscience. 

As a general practice vet, Dennis found himself increasingly drawn to the world of behaviour, so fast forward to 2017, he earned himself a PhD in canine anxiety and he’s also now proudly a member of the ANZCVS behaviour chapter. Since 2021, he’s been focusing solely on behaviour referral practice, and Dennis didn’t stop there. He’s also the mastermind behind ⁠ABADog.com⁠⁠—a platform he originally created to supercharge his own behaviour consultations. Think of it as your one-stop shop for gathering every essential nugget of behaviour history and turning it into a tailor-made action plan for each patient. In 2023, Dennis decided to add the title of “author” to his bio, with the release of “⁠A Dedication to Difficult Dogs: A Heartwarming Tale Shedding Light on Canine Mental Health.⁠”

In this podcast episode, we’ll dive deep into the world of veterinary behaviour with Dennis and chat about what makes the field of behaviour science seem daunting to many, why some of us aren’t quite experts (yet), and how boosting our knowledge and empathy can not only make us better vets, but also safer ones. Dennis also shares some game-changing strategies, tips, and tools up his sleeve that’ll instantly up your game in your next behaviour consultation and transform your interactions with dogs across the board. Behavioural stress? It’s on its way out the door! 

Topic list:

14:51 Anthropomorphizing can be beneficial.

15:01 Empathy is essential for animal welfare.

24:29 Mental health issues in dogs.

25:35 Emotionally driven behaviours are difficult to change.

30:23 Dogs chew and bark for relief.

35:21 Fear and anxiety drive aggression.

40:05 Prioritise patient welfare and comfort.

46:06 Understanding animal behaviour is a science.

50:20 Read multiple papers for consensus.

55:39 Customised behaviour mod and environmental mod.

61:30 Streamline behaviour consultations with ⁠ABAdog⁠.

64:46 Improve by focusing on solutions.

68:00 Take care of your mental health.



“If you don’t anthropomorphize, you lose a lot of chance for empathy and compassion towards animals.”

“Your duty of care as a vet is that you want to help your patients and help them feel better. Are you gonna be just treating physical pain or are you gonna treat mental pain as well?”


Join our community of Vet Vault Nerds to lift your clinical game and get your groove back with our up to date easy-to-consume clinical episodes at vvn.supercast.com.

Connect with us through our online Vet Vault Network for episode highlights, discussions, questions and support.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Get up and running (or working!) with a 10% discount for ⁠Tarkine⁠ shoes, the official shoe of the Vet Vault (discount automatically applied at checkout using this link).

Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/vet-vault/messag

Join our community of likeminded veterinary professionals for resources, case and industry discussions, connection and more.

Coming soon: Live podcasting, Q&A, practical sessions, and group discussions