With dogs, we commonly hear of behavioral issues such as over activity and displays of aggression. Aggression in dogs can be a way to convey a warning of threatening or harmful behavior directed toward another animal or human.
Aggressive behaviors can be identified by snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting, or lunging. To address and correct behavioral issues, a combination of behavior modification techniques, drug therapy, surgery, avoidance, and management may be necessary. Each issue of aggression is unique to each particular patient and often no one treatment method is the same for any dog. Depending on the diagnosis and the owner’s capability, motivation, and schedule, some methods may or may not be feasible.
You should have your pet examined by a veterinarian to determine if there is a medical explanation for the dog’s behavior. If it is determined that health issues are not a concern, then seeing a behaviorist or trainer might be the next step. A behaviorist will ask you many questions regarding the dog’s behavior and environment. Keeping a journal to record certain events and behaviors can be useful to give an accurate account of the aggression being displayed.Keep these things in mind: what brings on the aggression, how often does it occur, to whom it is directed, what specific behaviors are exhibited, and the dog’s postures at the time.
Aggression can be a result of numerous factors such as: genetic predisposition, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, physiological state, and external stimuli. Behavior issues can then fall into one of the various categories: dominance-related aggression, territorial aggression, inter-male aggression, predatory-aggression, fear-induced aggression, maternal aggression, and re-directed aggression.
It is important to keep in mind that even with successful treatment, there is no guarantee that the behavior won’t return. The best hope is to reduce the probability of aggression. Weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits.If your dog’s behavior cannot be predicted then using a muzzle may be an option, or it may help to keep your dog confined in a separate room when visitors or children are present. Also housing or feeding your dogs separately if they are fighting with each other, or removing objects like bones or rawhides that your dog may be guarding.
Some dogs whether they are one year old or 13 years old, can be constantly hyper and always on the move. Dogs like these often bark excessively, jump on people, tug on the leash, steal food off the counter, and demand attention at all times. Overactive dogs are usually a result of a learned behavior issue rather than a medical issue. There is a medical diagnosis of over activity called hyperkinesis, but it is rare. It is important to know that some breeds are genetically predisposed to be physically active, such as sporting breeds, but this does not mean that this kind of behavior is uncontrollable. It may be a learned condition, since most overactive dogs have learned to be that way because their jumping, barking, running, and tugging have earned them fun or attention from their owners. To address these kinds of problems use combinations of verbal control, physical restraint, and increased exercise. Training that includes rewards can be very effective. Dogs respond well to training when they realize that their efforts are rewarding. To gain more control start by consistently instructing him to “sit”, or “stay” or “down” to earn what he wants such as food, petting, play, or any other kind of attention. Using his leash indoors can be beneficial as well. Dogs that jump, run and leap out of reach can be kept on a leash before any problem actually occurs. All dogs require exercise but some dogs require particularly rigorous exercise such as running, swimming, and extended games of fetch. If the overactive problem seems to be too difficult to change without help, ask your veterinarian for assistance or look into a behavior specialist.
Often cats can cause problems for their owners with inappropriate elimination and furniture scratching.With some investigation and behavior modification techniques there is help for these problems.
Inappropriate elimination can be due to several factors such as medical problems, physiological problems, elimination preferences, or anxiety and stress.Some reasons that your cat may stop using the litter box all of a sudden may be a dirty litter box, placement of the box, litter changes, and box issues. Cats by nature are very clean animals and if the litter box smells bad to you, then it smells bad to your cat. Cats have 200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses compared to our 5 million.Part of the reason cats are so particular about this is basic animal instinct. In the wild, predators hunt by scent, and in an attempt at preservation, cats try to “cover their tracks”. A dirty litter box can make a cat feel susceptible to predators.
Clean the box often and scoop out the soiled litter and solid wastes daily and scrub the box with warm soapy water weekly, if you are using clay litter. Do not use harsh cleaners such as bleach to clean the box because their odor can be picked up by your cat and discourage them from using the box. Also, clumping litter can help make the box easier to clean.
Location of the box is very important as well.If your cat does not like the location, he may not use it at all. Do not place the litter box too close to his water and food dishes. Most cats do not like to eat and eliminate in the same area. Make sure the box is easily accessible. For example, placing it in a remote area of the house may deter the cat from using it. Keep the litter box away from the noisy water heater, the washer and dryer, or a dominant cat’s territory. Cats like safe, quiet places to eliminate.Follow your cat and observe what’s going on.Try several locations until you find one he will use consistently.
If you have changed the brand of litter, and the problem occurs, try changing back. The cat may not like the smell or texture of the new litter. Experiment with several types to see what he likes best. Purchase a small amounts of each, testing between clumping and non-clumping (try to use the unscented versions), recycled paper, wood byproducts, plant-based material, etc.
If you bring in a cat that is normally outdoors, he will not be used to using litter. You might first try using dirt or sand or whatever he’s been using in the yard. As he starts to use the box, very gradually over the next couple of weeks, mix the dirt with increasing amounts of litter.
The size, shape, and depth of the litter box can also affect your cat’s behavior. Hooded litter boxes are suitable for some cats, however others can feel confined and trapped. This can also be a problem in multiple cat households, as it can become a dominance dispute. Older cats, or cats with health problems, may have trouble stepping into a box with high sides. If a cat’s movement is an issue, provide a ramp that allows them to step down inside. Some cats don’t like box liners. Remove the liner if you notice your cat pulling it up or leaving claw marks in plastic. Providing several types of boxes of different sizes and type may help resolve the litter box problem.
If your cat seems to be straining to urinate or you notice any abnormalities in the ability to eliminate, the amount, the consistency, or blood in the urine or stool, see your veterinarian. Inappropriate elimination can be a result of a urinary tract infection or other medical issues as well.
Cats are great pets, but they are scratchers by nature, particularly targeting furniture or stereo speakers. A cat’s scratching is not random, and there are reasons for their scratching. In the wild, cats scratch around their immediate environment to signal their presence to other cats and to claim their area. Through scratching, a cat leaves a physical mark as well as a release of pheromones. Cats secrete pheromones from superficial glands in the skin of the cat’s paws. Scratching also helps your cat to achieve a form of physical therapy for the muscles and tendons and helps to remove old nail husks. If you experience problems with your cat scratching furniture, provide scratching posts. Allow enough height on a scratching post for a cat to stretch and use a fabric that allows the scratch marks to be visible. Most cats respond to burlap, wood, or carpet. Choose an attractive location for the post, because your cat wants it to be seen. Adjust the cat to the post first, and then relocate it later.
To protect a particular piece of furniture from scratching, place a heavy plastic over it, which can help deter the cat from scratching it. You can try using repellant aerosols, which contain napthol, however the area has to be sprayed periodically as the odor will fade. Another product on the market to help alleviate scratching is called Soft Paws, which are plastic covers glued over a cat’s nails. The covers need to be replaced each month as the nail grows, but damage to furniture is prevented. Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed can help with scratching as well.
If you are experiencing any behavioral issues with your cat or dog, be sure to consult your veterinarian to determine a regime that’s best to correct the behavior and to rule out any health concerns.
Call Franklin Ranch for an appointment today at (916) 683-4000.