Tips on solving 26 common pet problems.
Consider your home’s space, the time you have to devote to an animal, and your family dynamics before browsing online and meeting your future pet in person. petfinder.com
Bringing Home Baby
Many hospitals offer pet classes for expectant parents. Scripps has a popular support group specifically for families with dogs and new babies. Visit scripps.org to sign up.
Keep your animal occupied with chew toys filled with treats or with puzzles that keep their minds active.
Designate an appropriate spot for your natural digger. Fill a kiddie pool with sand and hide toys, praising and encouraging your dog when he digs appropriately and relocating him when he doesn’t.
Caring for your older pet means regular health maintenance, says Dr. Brenda Phillips of Veterinary Specialty Hospital. Visit your vet every six months for lab testing, preventive medications, and dental care.
Avoid allergies by looking for food with as few ingredients as possible. Avoid products with “meal” as a primary ingredient. pupologie.com
Growling is a natural form of communication; instead of punishing, note whether it’s play or a problem. Play growling will have loose body movements. A threatening growl will cause an animal to freeze in place. Stop whatever’s causing the growl to avoid a bite!
Crate training and timing are key. Dogs will not want to soil where they sleep, so keep them in the crate when you can’t be around to avoid accidents. Take a new dog outside at regular intervals for his first few weeks.
Always keep your pet up to date on her shots, especially rabies. Not only is it the law, but proof of vaccination is required for any grooming or day care appointments.
Ignore it and it will go away. “Get in the habit of no talking, no touching, not even looking at your pet unless they have all four feet on the floor,” says Shauna Romero.
Kitties and puppies
Start by keeping cats and dogs separate and swapping items like blankets and toys to introduce their smell. Gradually let them sniff each other through a screen. Never let the dog chase the cat, even playfully, and make sure kitty has a place to get away up high.
Prevent a pulling dog with a no-pull harness or head halter, available at San Diego Humane Society’s Muttique.
Dogs and cats both need to learn bite inhibition. Play biting may seem cute when they’re puppies or kittens, but don’t encourage it by letting them mouth you.
The best way to reduce the number of animals that end up in shelters is to spay or neuter. Have your pet altered as young as 8 weeks and by 6 months. sdhumane.org/spay-and-neuter
Avoid common foods that can seriously harm your pets, including apple seeds, avocados, coffee, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts. For a full list: aspca.org
Go at a less-busy time, observe and interact with your dog, and don’t take young puppies, who are more susceptible to disease, until they have been fully vaccinated.
Barking is self-rewarding behavior. Ignore it—don’t yell back or your dog will think you’re barking, too.
If your dog runs away, never scold him for coming back or he’ll think returning is a bad thing. Greet him enthusiastically with petting, praise, excitement, and high-value treats.
Teach your cat what’s okay to scratch and what’s not. Cover off-limit areas with sticky tape, foil, or sandpaper, and provide scratching posts in places she’ll want to use them. humanesociety.org
Fetch is a favorite. To train: start him in a corner with two of the exact same toy, so they have the same value. Wait for your pet to sit and then throw one toy. When he picks it up, offer him the second toy so he’ll come back. As he gets good at it, increase the distance.
Understanding Body Language
Recognizing your pet’s cues is the best way to prevent biting. Remember, all breeds can bite and the family dog is most often the culprit. Beware of raised hackles, a stiff body, and a steady stare. For more on preventing dog bites.
Dogs may get anxious or excited in the car. Securely fasten your pet in the back seat at all times and ensure she is microchipped and wearing a collar with identification in case she gets loose.
“Although dogs may naturally ‘doggy paddle,’ this doesn’t translate to an innate ability to swim,” Dr. Kimberly Boyle says. They might panic in water. “Provide constant supervision and allow them to interact with the water on their own terms.”
Some pet owners love to sneak a smooch and others don’t. If you fall in the “don’t” category, teach your dog an “enough” cue or simply get up and walk away.
To prevent escape, don’t leave your pet outside unattended. Build fences deep into the ground and consider attaching “coyote rollers” to the top of fences to prevent your dog from pulling herself over. coyoteroller.com
Calm a cat down by providing at least 10 to 15 minutes of play each day, providing a safe place for him to be alone, and sticking to a routine. humanesociety.org
If you need a little extra help with your dog’s behavior issues or just want to get a leg up on training, SDHS has got you covered. Our positive reinforcement training classes not only teach Fido new behaviors, they also strengthen your bond. Check out these fun, affordable classes and workshops.
For puppies who need help getting comfortable around people and pets:
- Puppy Preschool
- Puppy Kindergarten
- Puppy Playground
Obedience Classes for dogs who need to learn the basics:
- Level 1: Marvelous Manners
- Level 2: Superb Skills
- Level 3: Reliable Rollovers
Specialty Classes for pups who need training in a specific area:
- Loose Leash Walking in any situation
- Rapid Recall teaches your dog to reliably come when called
- Shy Dog helps overwhelmed dogs build confidence
- Happily Ever After helps pet parents prevent and manage problem behaviors
- Introduction to Treibball helps engage your dog’s herding nature
- K9 Nose Work helps develop your dog’s scenting ability
For help choosing the right training class for your dog, call 619-299-7012 x2247, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.