Many households live with animals for companionship. Often, this works out well, thus owner and pet become fast friends.Other times, the relationship can become somewhat strained. Pet behavioral problems are the number one reason why pets end up in shelters and/or being euthanized. If you are looking for ways to help improve your pet’s behavior, here are a few tips.
- Spay/Neuter - If you haven’t already gotten your pet spayed or neutered, doing so can help with some problems. Soiling in the house, persistent barking or meowing, escaping, and aggressiveness can also be helped by spaying or neutering. It is also beneficial to your pet’s health by preventing uterine infections or testicular cancer.
- Exercise - Many dogs, particularly “working” breeds, need a fair amount of exercise. Making sure that your dog gets enough time to run around and burn off energy can help with a lot of behavior problems. If you are looking to adopt a new pet, carefully consider the breed and its exercise requirements before making your final decision.
- Attention - All animals need attention, particularly dogs. If your work or other life situations, like a new baby, are making it difficult to give your pet adequate attention, consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to come and give them some extra affection.
- Early Socialization - Socializing your pet from the time they are a small puppy or kitten can help prevent behavior problems later on. This includes socializing with new people as well as with other animals. For dogs, you can often find socializing classes available through dog trainers.
- Training - Training your pet to know what is expected can help eliminate behavior issues. Remember that training starts from the moment you bring a pet home – what is cute for your 8 week old lab puppy might not be cute with your 80 lb. adult dog. Always choose humane training methods and never harm an animal. If you don’t have time for training, consider getting an adult animal that has already been trained, or try a pet friendly Electric Trainer.
- Regular Vet Checks - Illness can be a cause of many behavior problems, particularly if it is a sudden change in personality or behavior. Any time you have a behavioral problem, a visit to the vet is warranted. Ensure that there isn’t an underlying health problem to blame.
- Reassess Your Expectations - Many pet behavior problems are really a conflict between a pet’s natural tendency and their owner’s expectations. For instance, unneutered males often mark their territory, making it difficult to housebreak or litter train them. Barking is a common communication tool for dogs. Herding dogs tend to be nippy since they are bred with a desire to herd animals like sheep or cattle. Cats scratch to mark their territory.
It can be a bit of an uphill battle to overcome these desires or redirect them to appropriate behaviors. Also, keep in mind that younger pets are like younger children – a lot of repetition is often necessary before they will understand what is expected of them. Give them time, love, and patience and they will come to know what is expected.