One of the difficulties of managing unwanted pet behavior is our tendency to punish behavior that we don't like without
rewarding the behavior we are seeking. Punishment alone does not work. Be sure to reward your pet with attention, praise and
even food treats when your pet does something you want to see more often. We protect our pets from predators and provide food
and shelter. By neutering our pets we further help them avoid the dangers and risks of reproduction and hormonal behavior.
This is all good. However, domestic life leaves a great deal of empty time in the day. If the hours could be filled with our
companionship, that would be enough but most of us don't spend all day entertaining the pets. Be sure your pet is getting
enough exercise to prevent boredom from causing unwanted and annoying behavior.
Another way to manage problem behavior, is to redirect the pet's energy to acceptable behavior. This can be done with occupational
therapy, based on the theory that behavior problems are a result of a loss of "occupation" --or outlets for natural behavior.
The natural behavior of our pets includes hunting for food, protecting territory from intruders and mating and reproducing.
By offering outlets for normal behavior that are acceptable we can reduce the incidence of problem behavior. Many zoos have
found occupational therapy to be the cure for behavior problems common to wild animals kept in captivity. Hidden food, obstacles
and vegetation that the animal would normally choose for shelter are all a part of a zoo animal's enclosure. For our own pets,
we need to offer outlets for normal behavior as well.
Cats are hunters, dogs are scavengers and rabbits and rodents are grazers. Birds in the wild shower almost daily. Cats
scratch, dogs dig, rabbits chew and birds scream. Ferrets like to tunnel. Play can replace these activities if it simulates
their normal behavior. Your pet can't think like a person but if you think like your pet, you'll come up with many ideas for
When any behavior is punished, (barking, urinating, or licking) it's difficult for an animal to understand that the BEHAVIOR
is the cause of the punishment because there are many times the same behavior is NOT punished. Even if you time a correction
perfectly, which is not easy, you aren't always there when the behavior occurs. Pets learn that YOU are the cause for the
punishment, not the behavior. This can have undesirable effects on your relationship with your pet--not to mention that the
problem behavior is not reduced. There are devices that help ensure that consequences for bad behavior occur EVERY time.
Some Items for managing behavior:
- a cardboard tube filled with shredded paper for small animals and birds to dismantle
- an elevated pet bed with disposable tray for incontinent older pets
- a magnetic cat door restricting access to certain rooms of the house for certain animals (the door is activated by a charm
the pet wears on a collar. )
- a multi level cage for ferrets and flight cages for birds
- full spectrum lighting for animals that don't go outdoors
- no pull harnesses and head collars for dogs that are difficult to walk on a leash.
- fences for cats so they can be protected out of doors http://www.catfencein.com
- Nothing says you care like an interactive toy! And the gift will return its price to you in the form of better pet behavior.
A common behavior problem for dogs is persistent barking. Barking is usually related to other behavior problems that keep
the dog in a crate or out in the yard; chewing, house training difficulties. If these underlying problems are addressed, dogs
can be indoors with the family and barking problems resolve themselves. In the meantime, an anti barking collar
can help. Some collars shock a dog in response to a loud noise. This may punish a dog for noise from a phone or another animal.
Unfair! The AntiBarking System pictured, sprays Citronella which temporarily distracts the dog from barking.
This is a humane solution to a frustrating problem. The collar can also be connected to a remote control so that you can control
the correction. The collar can even be fitted to a motion sensor so the spray will be triggered when a dog approaches a certain
area of the yard or house (trash can!)
The X mat or Scat Mat
gives a pet a static shock whenever the mat is touched. Uses: Teaching pets to stay
away from counters, furniture, aquariums and small animal cages, trash cans, stereo speakers, potted plants, front door, baby's
room, stairway, holiday decorations. If your pet has been engaging in a behavior for a long time, or the behavior carries
a great deal of motivation (stealing food), disguise the mat as much as possible so the dog learns to avoid the activity and
not the mat. Leave the mat turned off but in place for awhile -then activate the mat. Remember, some pets can jump! Placement
must be strategic to be effective in these cases. http://www.Scatmat.com
This is an ingenious idea for keeping unwanted animals out of your yard, away from bird feeders, or from using your
mail box as a rest stop. This Product uses a motion sensor to trigger a short burst of sprinkler water! Excellent idea. Also
available from Scat Mat.
A bad tasting deterrent can be applied to protect surfaces from destructive chewing. The deterrent has to be harsh the first
time or it won't work. Tabasco sauce? Dogs love it! Pepper? Gone with the wind. Bitter Apple, close, but no cigar. YUK ointment
contains the most bitter substance known to man that is safe to put in your mouth (don't try it, though,YUK!). Uses: Prevent
removing bandages or sutures, chewing of electric cords, leashes, household items that can't be put out of reach. YUK is also
helpful temporarily for animals that groom themselves abnormally causing self injury. http://www.vetplanet.net/
Fertile Hemispheres, Inc. 800-346-4092.
Several toys are available with trap doors or pocket so that you can place food treats inside. The food is accessible when
the toy is rolled a certain way or the pocket makes the treat a challenge for your pet to remove. These toys are great for
animals that spend a time alone and are useful for dealing with mild separation anxiety.
Originally named the Promise Halter, now called the Gentle Leader, this head collar for dogs bases its success on two ideas.
- Physical contact on the muzzle conveys leadership to dogs.
- Control the head and you control the whole animal.
There are other brands of head halter the Halti and the Snoot Loop. This is a great training aid for dogs that are physically
more powerful or exuberant than their owners. Available at PetsMart.
Difficulty mastering the use of a training collar is a common reason that many dogs and owners drop out of obedience class.
Many dogs lose their enjoyment of training and quickly learn that the leash is the real trainer. In a few sessions the dog
no longer responds to the owners without the leash. This product can prevent classroom discouragements and injury to dogs.
William Campbell, a pioneer in the field of animal behavior management, offers this shock absorbing leash on his web page.
Birds must get wet to keep their feathers in condition. Many birds won't bathe in standing water or are afraid of plant misters.
You might use green house hoses for outdoor showering systems or a hose that hooks up to your sink. But if you want a more
portable set up, Misty Mate is the answer.
http://www.mistymate.com/2750503.html The pump up pressure allows a continuous spray for many minutes. It even comes with a clip that hooks on cage wire!
You could also use this to cool your dog on a hot day. You could also use a pressurized cooking sprayer made for olive oil
but these don't spray for nearly as long and you have to hold them up. Another tip: use luke warm water. Nobody likes a cold