POLITE PETS MONTH
With March well underway, we enter Polite Pets Month, an initiative by the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) to bring awareness to pet behaviour. It’s encourages owners to check their puss and pooches behaviour, to bring awareness to behavioural problems, and to take action with the vet, trainer, or behavioural specialist if they need help with anxiety, phobias or other issues.
It is much better to prevent behavioural problems forming from the get-go rather than dealing with them later on. We encourage positive reward-based learning which is the most effective whilst also strengthening your bond with them. Here are some top tips
- Get puppies into training and socialisation in the first 16 weeks of life. Friendly socialisation decreases fear of other dogs and people and helps them become more adaptable.
- Always use reward-based training – such as food, treats, attention, toys, games, verbal praise to reinforce good behaviour
- Ignore unwanted behaviour, this way they don’t get rewarded with your attention and eventually the behaviour should stop. Instead reward them when they stop the unwanted behaviour
- Naughty dogs are just dogs that haven’t learnt how to behave properly. They are acting what is most natural to them. We can control them with humane, positive reinforcement, scientifically based methods. With time and training, any dog can become a polite pet!
Anxiety and Phobias
Some dogs thought to be misbehaving, may have underlying learning difficulties and mental illnesses just like people. It is quite normal to be anxious in certain situations – for example, loud sounds, meeting new people or dogs, etc, however it’s not usual to be anxious all the time. It is important to recognise anxiety in dogs so we can help them along and allow them to enjoy life a bit more. Also, anxious dogs are more likely to bite! If you are concerned about anxiety in your pet, have a chat with the vet. Some dogs may have underlying medical conditions such as being irritable from liver disease, or painful from back disease. We can design a treatment program for your pet or refer you to a veterinary behaviouralist.
Treatment of anxiety has three parts:
- Environment – identifying triggers and trying to avoid them
- Behavioural modification – training with positive reinforcement
- Medication – to help animals learn
If you are concerned that your pet may have an underlying anxiety disorder or would like more information, talk to the vet about what to do. The more information you get, the more you can help them.