The communication system within an animal allows coordinated responses to its environment. It is composed of the brain, the spinal cord, the nerves and associated sensory organs.

The parts of the brain that are most interesting to animal behaviorists are the cerebral cortex, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Because all areas of the brain are interconnected, information cannot travel from the periphery to the central nervous system and vice versa without going through the midbrain, the hind brain and the spinal cord.

Along with that "hardware", there are numerous chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help to transmit information across physical gaps between neurons, or over a longer period of time than the duration of a nerve impulse (hormones). Most of the psychoactive medication that is used to help treat behavior problems in people and animals affect the way neurotransmitters work.


In some cases, it is very important not to eliminate the possibility that anti-anxiety drugs can help rescue dogs that are being rehabilitated to relax enough to learn desirable or unlearn undesirable habits.

Some ways in which psychoactive medication can work

  1. Prevent/decrease/increase manufacture or release of the Neurotransmitters
  2. Prolong its action (prevent breakdown or re-uptake)
  3. Mimic the action of the Neurotransmitter (bind to the receptor, activate a response in the neuron)
  4. Block the action of the Neurotransmitter (bind to the Neurotransmitter so it doesn't fit the receptor, bind to the receptor without activating a response in the neuron).

Drugs used during a desensitization or behavior modification program should only be prescribed by a veterinarian. Using the wrong drug can have the opposite desired effects. You should always consult with a behavior consultant who is clinically certified and/or a veterinarian to discuss appropriate medications and dosages when needed!!!!

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