There are times when your dog or cat seem to develop a behavior problem almost over night and you wonder what happened.
In this article, I am going to try and cover what are some of the causes of sudden misbehavior in our pets.
Dogs and cats are creatures of a routine environment. They do not like change in their lives. You will never hear a dog or cat complain that life is dull and they hate the sameness.
Awareness on your part that even a small change in the normal family routine or lifestyle may have on effect on your pet’s behavior will help prevent serious problems.
If at all possible prepare the pet for the oncoming changes.
Moving to a new location or the pet having been boarded for a period of time can cause separation anxiety, once the move has been made or the pet comes home from the kennel.
When moving, if possible take the pet (dog) to the location to visit several times. Let the dog get used to the smells and the surroundings and if possible make the move during a time that you will be there for a day or two with your pet.
If you pet has been boarded, there are some dogs that will experience separation anxiety even though they are back in familiar territory.
Expect it and be prepared to act accordingly.
In both cases, the move or the boarding, do not go overboard in giving attention to your dog. Excessive attention only will increase the problem.
Think like a dog for a moment, “if I fuss, I get attention, so I will fuss more.”
Instead relax, do not allow yourself to even think about leaving the dog as you get ready for work. Think about work, or getting a dinner menu in your head, think of anything, but do not think about leaving the dog. Dogs can pick up your anxiety and react accordingly.
If the behavior when you leave has been one of excessive barking and whining, a remedy that works quite often is, just before leaving give your dog some extra cookies and/or a toy or two in another location, away from the door. Do not say a word like “goodbye” or “see you soon,” just leave.
Remember the more attention you give this matter, the more the dog will require.
If the behavior is destructive such as chewing up things or the pet has taken up to soiling in the house.
Confine the pet to its crate if you have one, with cookies, water and toys. If you do not have a crate, confine the dog to a room where there is little to destroy, such as the bathroom or laundry room. Again leave cookies, water and toys.
The main ingredient here is to remember that hitting, screaming or yelling at the dog will do no good. The dog will not know why you are doing that, except that he/she is getting the attention it wants.
Be as relaxed as you can be and praise good behavior and ignore the bad as best you can.
What are other changes that can cause behavior problems that you need to be aware of?
Changes in the family composition, children leaving for college, new people moving in, extra activity within the household can severely upset a dog, much less a cat.
If you are aware of the coming changes and are mindful of the effect on your dog, you can prepare by finding a place for your dog within the household that can be a quiet retreat and expose your pet to the new changes in small doses.
Do not expect a dog to adjust to changes in its household as a matter of course. Adults and children require adjustment to changes and they understand
the reasoning behind them. So why expect your dog to be more understanding?
Cats are also sensitive to changes in the household, their reactions are not as severe as a dogs, but they can start to have litter box or spraying problems and possibly even start scratching or biting if upset.
Cats that have not been socialized as kittens can have a hard time adjusting to new arrivals in household.
If you are anticipating guests, coming on vacations or someone new moving in.
Plan in advance to find a “sanctuary” for your cat. Cats need quiet and calm places to be. If necessary move the litter box to a less busy place, along with the food dishes (not near each other.) If you do this before the arrival of your guests, your cat will have become accustomed to it and the adjustment will be easier.
If you are planning an arrival of a new pet, do not expect to plop down the new arrival and expect the resident pets to accept it right off.
There are books on how to introduce a new pet to a resident pet and the rules should be followed. A bad introduction can cause a life of disagreements between pets.
If you are a pet owner and are expecting or considering changes in your current lifestyle take some time to consider how the changes will affect your pet. It is really a lot easier to prevent a problem with a little fore thought, than to resolve it after the damage has been done.
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