10 Steps to Better Behaviour

by / Thursday, 04 July 2013 / Published in News Archive, Small Animals

behave-3Pets behaving badly are a family menace and the solutions are often frustratingly evasive. You need to know how to set humane and effective limits for wrongful behaviours. Here’s ten hints that will show how to make your best mate better.

1. Stop your pet teaching itself bad behaviour.

The more your pet rehearses an annoying behaviour, the more likely it is that your pet will perform it again. So, try to avoid all the situations that will create the unwanted behaviour to prevent the wrongful self-teaching of bad behaviour. Try taking the problem away from your pet or your pet away from the problem. For instance, if your dog barks continually at the front fence, try a midway fence that keeps the dog in the back yard.

If your cat scratches your child when playing, remove the cat from your child by giving your child a feather on a string as a cat toy. The cat’s ‘spikiness’ is directed to the feather not fingers.

2. Don’t try to cure aggression by being aggressive Dogs which are aggressive are over-aroused. The last thing they want is to be pushed more out of control by being yelled at or hit. If your dog is aggressive, act like a statue. Let the aggression evaporate and allow the dog to calm down. It won’t take long. When it is calm, try a simple command like ‘SIT’. Reward the resulting calm behaviour with a ‘GOOD DOG’ voice or even a food treat.

3. A dog that barks when you are at work is often bored out of its big brain. Your bored backyard dog will benefit greatly if you provide it with a rich lifestyle while you are away at work. Try giving a Kong toy or a roller treat ball stuffed with food or even a frozen bone before you leave. Just be sure any food given is part of its overall diet so you don’t create a tubby puppy.

4. A dog that barks when you are away and also trembles, pants, looks anxious and is destructive may have a serious anxiety disorder, be careful. Your dog has gone beyond boredom and its anxiety is taking over. Treatment relies on giving your dog a rich ‘home alone’ lifestyle, making ‘alone time’ part of every day and being cunning in the way you leave the dog when you have to go out.

5. If your pet has an annoying behaviour, try to minimise punishment Punishment is overused and oftenbehave-1 pushes animals further out of control. Instead, work on a system that creates the behaviour you want and then reward this behaviour so your pet can see more value in behaving than misbehaving.6. Dogs, cats and birds that are fearful or timid have great difficulty learning when they are showing their fearful behaviours. Solving fear-based behaviours can be difficult. Don’t try to create the fear and then try to make your pet cope with it. It will learn very little because it is pushed into a defensive or flight mode, not a learning mode. Create a situation where your pet will be calm and happy and then slowly introduce the stimulus that caused the fear while still maintaining your pet’s happiness.
7. If your cat stops using its litter tray, before worrying about the behaviour, be sure it is not suffering from a medical disorder Many cats that break their litter tray habits have a lower urinary tract infection causing the behaviour. Visit your vet for testing and if all is well, then seek a behaviour solution. Clean multiple trays are the first step.
8. If your dog is annoying visitors, get them away from visitors before they arrive. You will find it too difficult to manage a rambunctious pet and to greet your visitors simultaneously. Place your dog in a comfortable room (e.g. the laundry) with a Kong or bone before the visitors arrive. Then introduce your pet to the visitors later when you, the visitors and your pesky pooch are ready to deal with the outcomes.
9. If you have a new puppy be sure to take it to a Puppy Preschool At a well-run puppy preschool class your pet can learn to get on with other pets and with people other than you. The convenor of the preschool will also teach you all about caring for your pet, and about training.
10. If your cat attacks you, it may be playing Play behaviour and aggression are very close with cats – and both make humans bleed if they are on the receiving end! Try giving the cat things to play with that don’t bleed!! A ‘fishing rod’ made from a bamboo garden stake, a piece of string and a cork with two feathers stuck to it will cater for most of a cat’s need to have rambunctious play and such a device doesn’t train the cat to think that human flesh is a play thing.


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