My dog Casey is not well behaved at events. He likes to pull and lunge at other dogs. Sometimes there is a dog off leash that approaches us; I'm not sure what to do. Do you think I should just avoid the situation and leave Casey at home?
Dear Casey’s Buddy,
Crowds are stressful for everyone. Some people avoid crowds (and I am one of them I must admit). We become hypervigilant during times of stress; I have no doubt that dogs do too. It sounds to me like Casey becomes defensive in these situations. He may be defending you, or himself, or both. If you think he isn’t having fun, and you don’t seem to enjoy restraining him at these events, it might be better to leave him at home. The question becomes does he need to be there, or do you need him to be there? Bottom line is this: whatever is best for Casey has to be best for you.
Dear Dr. Schwartz,
We have 6 cats and live in a 2 bedroom condo. We are also expecting to adopt a baby in the next year or so. Since we introduced Bonkers (cat #6) last year, things have been more complicated. He keeps going after our oldest cat Whiskers, who is a timid and solitary cat. We think he’s playing because he chirrs at her and no one is getting hurt, but she definitely doesn’t enjoy it and we’re losing sleep. What should we do?
Dear Going Bonkers,
That’s a whole lot of kitties in a small space. High population density means more tension and less places to get away from each other. Try creating more vertical space with cat trees and shelving. Keep Bonkers busy with more play time and keep one of them confined at night so you can all get more rest. Meanwhile, start shopping for a larger home ASAP. It will be better for everyone to get used to a new home before a new child arrives!
Dr. Stefanie Schwartz is a board certified veterinary behaviorist based at California Veterinary Specialists in Carlsbad, CA. She also sees patients at the Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin, CA. For more information, please call (760) 431-2273 and visit www.californiaveterinaryspecialists.com and www.veterinarybehavior.org.