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New Years Resolutions…For Pets!

scarypoodle3

“I can’t be cute all the time, I can get moody too!”

As 2015 is coming to a close, it’s that time again to make some New Year’s resolutions (that you may or may not follow)! If you are trying to improve yourself, then why wouldn’t your pet want to as well? I’m sure there are areas that your pet can work on! Many times, pet owners can get used to their pets’ negative behaviors, which only encourages them to keep doing them. Make this the year that you finally break your lovely companion of its not-so-lovely habits! Here are some ideas:

  1. Stop Barking At Everyone – I don’t know about you, but my dogs bark at literally everyone that walks in the door. It’s gotten to the point where even if a car passes, or a leaf blows by, they bark. Sometimes, they even bark when someone in the house walks downstairs or upstairs. The problem is, that one dog usually starts it, and the rest follow, turning the whole house into a chorus of yapping. It can be quite frustrating and annoying to say the least, and usually takes a little while for the chaos to die down. Not to mention, if your dog is just barking all the time for no reason, your neighbors are bound to get annoyed as well.

The problem is that many people’s first instinct is to either shout over the barking, or yell about how irritating it is. This is the wrong thing to do, because your dog thinks that you are “barking” either to challenge them or join them. Not only do they keep barking, but the noise can become more intense. One of the first things you should do when your dog barks is to ignore it completely. It may be difficult, but if you take away the attention that your dog receives for barking, then it could lessen the motivation for them to do so. Here is a more comprehensive list with more tips to get your dogs to stop barking so much! Perhaps an anti-bark collar system may help as well.

"If I didn't bark, how would you know we have a visitor?"

“If I didn’t bark, how would you know we have a visitor?”

2.   Stop Pooping and Peeing In the House – Now, hopefully your dog is housebroken and only has some accidents here and there. But it isn’t uncommon to have a dog that just insists on relieving themselves inside of the house; usually on the floor, rug, or worse – your bed. If this is a daily occurrence, it can be very frustrating and disgusting. There is one dog in my household that even when she is taken outside to do her “business,” she comes inside to do it literally a couple minutes later. No matter how long we have her outside, or how often she goes, she comes right back inside and goes to the bathroom.

If you failed to train your dog to be housebroken, or your pet is just slipping here and there, then you can brush up on some house breaking techniques to discourage the negative behaviors. If your cat, ferret, or other such animal is not using its litter box like it usually does, you can also correct that behavior as well. More often than not, if a cat is relieving itself somewhere else besides its litter box, it is trying to tell you that it either has some kind of illness or infection (especially urinary tract infection), or they are stressed/unhappy about a sudden change in their environment (such as the addition of a new pet to the house). You can use training pads in your effort to help your pet be housebroken, although be careful that it doesn’t become a regular occurrence that they get used to!

cattoilet

“I don’t get it…where does the poop go…?”

3.   Stop Nipping, Biting, or Growling – Sometimes, we pet lovers develop a high tolerance for bad behaviors, and while that sometimes is a good thing – such as when you are welcoming a newly adopted shelter animal into your home – other times, it can be bad. We all probably either have one (or more) pet(s) that are a little crazy sometimes, whether they have a lot of energy, excitement, or stress. Because animals are limited in their capacity to express themselves, they usually resort to biting or growling to show their distaste for something. Very rarely is a dog biting out of “aggression”; they are usually biting out of fear, stress, anxiety, irritation, or playfulness. Regardless of the reason, biting is obviously not a good behavior, and neither is growling.

There’s a dog of mine that is very sweet, loving, and cute; but when she is “not in the mood” for attention, or sometimes for seemingly no reason at all – she growls and bites. Luckily she is just a Chihuahua, otherwise she would do quite a bit of damage. She is from a shelter, so she most likely was abused and/or injured by her previous owner, so we have let her bad behavior slide time and time again. This year, I personally am going to try and help modify some of her scary behaviors, and hopefully get her to stop biting. If your dog is playfully biting, then you can join me in this training process! There are also many anti-anxiety and calming aids available, not to mention plenty of resources online to try, so get to it (and I will too)!

"I'm just playing, jeez!"

“I’m just playing, jeez!”

4.   Lose Weight and Stop Overeating – This is another problem that can get a little out of control over time if not dealt with properly. You may think that your pet is “cuter” when it is overweight, but pet obesity can lead to many health complications ranging from heart disease to joint pain. Here is a great guide from us about proper diets for dogs and how to manage their weight safely. If you are having trouble pinpointing the cause of the weight gain, seek a vet’s assistance, because the underlying issue could possibly be very serious!

There are many ways that you can help your pet become healthy, such as changing their food to a less fatty/sugary brand, minimizing treats and “people food” handouts, and of course taking them on more walks. In combination with these simple methods, you can also employ supplements, treats, and foods, to aid in digestion that will quicken the weight-loss process. Sometimes it is as simple as just feeding them less, or putting the food in a different location, so try everything you can!

overweight

“Uhh…the scale says…more to love!”

5.   Be Nicer To Other Dogs or Animals – Whether you want your dog to stop growling at other passing dogs, or you want your puppy to stop chasing your cats around the house, there are definitely steps you can take to help your dog be “nicer” to other animals. It can be very embarrassing to take your dog to a park or store, only to have them bark and growl incessantly at other dogs that are there. Not only do you look like a “bad owner,” but it could possibly lead to a more serious altercation between the animals, and perhaps an attack. It can be just as frustrating if you have a dog that is not so nice to another one of your household pets, even though you did everything possible to make them be “friends.”

There are steps you can take to properly socialize your dog, and if the problem persists, you may want to look into training options. Dog socialization is a very complicated subject, because the reasons why your dog and other dogs are not getting along, could seem irrational or completely dumbfounding. The good news is, that very few dogs are actually “aggressive.” Usually when a dog just isn’t “friendly” to other dogs, it is being “reactive” either because it is on a leash and therefore feels protective of its owner, or threatened.

scarydogs

“Umm…do you think you can chill out?”

6.   Stop Destroying the House and Everything In It – Luckily I have never had this problem with any of my dogs before, but it is a very common issue among dog owners everywhere – scratch that – pet owners of all kinds! You may have had your dog chew your favorite pair of shoes before, or your rabbit chew through your computer cables, and no matter what it is – it’s always expensive or an inconvenience. In addition, the item could potentially be dangerous and fatal to your pet if ingested; or in the rabbit’s case, they could electrocute themselves!

Besides pet-proofing your home, you may have to look into other options to try and mitigate your pets’ destructive tendencies. Some dogs chew wooden tables, doors, fences, couches, and other things that cannot just be “stored away” to protect them. If the cause of your pet’s destruction is separation anxiety, then you can attack that problem in many ways. If your pet is just simply bored, or doesn’t have enough things to chew, then we have a large selection for you! There are also products such as this that discourage chewing with unpleasant tastes in spray form.

"Trust me, I'm doing you a favor. These shoes are hideous!"

“Trust me, I’m doing you a favor. These shoes are hideous!”

Make this coming year the year that you finally deal with that unfavorable pet behavior that has been a problem for either a long time, or somewhat recently. The longer you wait to correct the behavior, the more difficult it will be to break the habit down the road. Stop making excuses for your pet, and show them you love them by training them to be the best they can be! Also, if you have special training tips and experiences, please share your wisdom!

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