Solutions for common behavior issues from Shauna Romero
Pet parents seek help for a variety of behavioral issues. For cats, litter box issues are common, as are hiding and scratching. For dogs, begging, barking and jumping are pretty high on the list of troublesome behaviors. But Shauna Romero, behavior and training supervisor at SDHS’s Behavior Center, says there a few steps owners can take that work for almost anything.
First, identify the behavior—for example, a dog jumping. And be specific when asking for help: “My dog’s crazy” can mean a lot of things.
Next, prevent and manage. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to jump on people. Don’t let her loose when people are arriving, and keep her contained until she calms down.
Reinforce the absence of unwanted behavior. That means praise or treats when she’s not doing the thing you don’t like.
Finally, reward her for the desirable
behavior, like learning to sit when people approach.
Romero says cats and dogs can benefit from an enriched environment, too. Toys and food puzzles are not only a welcome distraction when you need a little space, but satisfy a pet’s natural instincts, thus diminishing bothersome behaviors. It’s important that everyone in the household be on the same page about enforcing the rules, such as not feeding the dog under the table. Dogs continue to beg because someone has been feeding them when they do, she says. “They don’t stare at the fridge, even though they know food is in there.” It’s important to reinforce behaviors you do like and ignore those you don’t.