Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Let Your Pet Growl

animal-dog-pet-dangerous.jpg Of all of the physical signals that dogs have to communicate with us, one of the most misunderstood – is the growl (cats growl too – but only in cases of aggression) Just because a dog is growling – it doesn’t necessarily mean that that is an act of aggression. There can be growling during play (with people as well as other dogs) or when your pup is barking an alert (or getting ready to alert the house). The growl can also serve as a warning signal for you to stop what you’re doing because the dog is becoming uncomfortable. The growl is one of the first lines of defense before a dog escalates to a bite.

It is very important to understand that when you (or someone, like an unsuspecting child) intrudes on a dog when they are eating, or disturbing them while they are focused on something else – they growl as a warning to create a distance between you and them (same thing with showing teeth). They are setting a boundary. It is important to honor that boundary and not reprimand them for utilizing one of the only clear lines of communication they have.

If you need to approach your pet from behind – make sure you get their attention first. In general, most pets don’t like being snuck up on. I realize that some people find this practice hilarious. Maybe some pets can tolerate it. I highly suggest against this particular practice. Remember, your pets are thinking, feeling, sentient beings who have their own thoughts and opinions about the world around them. When their boundaries are not honored or respected (basically ignored), then they will find another way of getting their point across (like snapping at you or barking).

Do you feel your pet is growling excessively and you’d like to find out why? I’d love to talk with you.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Understanding Your Pet Part 2: How to overcome these top 3 destructive behaviors..

Whenever you bring home a new furry family member, or even if you have an established animal companion - destructive behaviors and accidents can happen. In today’s post - I’ll review the top three destructive behaviors, their potential causes and what you can do to fix them.

Pet has accidents in the house: If you have adopted a rescue of any age is you will have to housebreak them. They are entering a new house and a new routine - so there may be some accidents. It’s up to you to show them where it is appropriate to go potty and to learn what your pets cue is. If your pet has been with you for years and accidents are happening - make sure the pet doesn’t have a medical cause (such as a urinary tract infection or kidney stones etc). The other thing you want to look at is how often is your pet getting exercise or play? Letting them out in the back yard isn’t enough. Ideally, taking your dog(s) on a brisk or long walk (something where they can get a good sniff at the different surroundings) will help with inappropriate elimination. For cats - make sure the litter box is clean, the cat can access it easily and it’s in a well ventilated area.

Pet is chewing things: The act of chewing can stem from a variety of reasons. If the pet is young, they could be teething. Your pet could also be bored. If your pet is bored, then get creative with the games you play - or change up the route you go on when walking. In the moment you can offer your pet something appropriate to chew and keep the things you don’t want to be chewed out of your pets reach (ex: keep shoes in bins on a high shelf or behind a closed door).

Pet is aggressive: This one is a little tricky. Is the pet guarding a resource like toys? Is the pet food aggressive? Is the aggression coming from fear? In all of these cases - if other dogs or small children are involved you need to manage the situation. If you have multiple dogs - every dog should have their own space to eat away from the other dogs. Fear can be lessened by building up your pets confidence (basic obedience training with positive reinforcement is a great start). Sometimes an aggression issue requires more in-depth work with a specialist.

Once you are in a place of understanding about your furry family member (whether they are a rescue or not) - you and your beloved pet(s) will have a long and happy life together!

Do you need help with any of the above behaviors? Schedule a free strategy session today!