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Vet's Clinic with Liam Moriarty - Behavioural problems in pets

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Behavioural Problems in Pets

Top 5 Behaviour Problems in Dogs

1. Separation Anxiety (video footage on this)
2. Jumping up on owners/guests.
3. Excessive barking.
4. Pulling on lead.
5. Poor recall - not returning to owner when called.

Top 5 Behaviour Problems in Cats

1. Inappropriate toileting.
2. Scratching furniture.
3. Fussy eaters.
4. Vocalising/ noisy.
5. Fighting with other cats

Top tips for dog owners

1. Restrict your dog's access within the house - do not allow dog in bedrooms or up on furniture.
2. Do some basic obedience training with your dog
3. Make sure your dog earns both food and affection.
4. Reward good behaviour, ignore bad behaviour.
5. Ensure your dog has enough exercise and stimulation.

Top Tips for cat owners

1. Make sure cat has easy access to litter tray and outside
2. If house has more than one cat watch out for subtle signs of bullying
3. Discourage finicky eating
4. Provide a scratching post - try different materials if something doesn't work
5. Make sure your cat is neutered.

Elton the Dog

Q. What can you tell us about Elton?

. Elton is a 7 month old Labrador retriever who has been with his current owner for 3 weeks, during which time he has completely destroyed the owners house.
. Elton's was previously in a home with four other dogs but he was rehomed as the other dogs were bullying him a little.
. Prior to moving all his time was spent with either people and other dogs.
. He is a lovely friendly dog, if a little boisterous when is with people, he has already bonded very well with his new owner.... the problem starts when he is left alone....

Q Ok we have some video footage of Elton at home - can you talk us through it.

. First we see Elton and owner interacting - he jumps up on his owner seeking attention.
. Next Elton's owner is ignoring him and talking to me - Elton reacts by attention seeking - he picks up a shoe and starts to destroy it...
. Then we see how Elton behaves when his owner leaves the house.
. Q. So this is the real problem
. This is the reason Elton's owner called me
. When he leaves Elton gets upset - first he watches out the window until his owner is out of sight - he has previously pulled down the curtains so he could get a better view.
. Once his owner is out of sight he becomes very agitated and starts his destructive behaviour.
. He will knock things off shelves, off the kitchen table and every now and then he checks out the window to see if there is any sign of his owner.
. Some of this footage may look funny but this dog really gets himself worked up whenever he is left alone - his owner is very fond of him, but the damage is starting to mount up.

Q So what have we done to help Elton?

Elton is a very difficult case - however we hope by changing how his owner interacts with him, we can teach him to cope when he is on his own.

. Firstly his owner has been instructed to ignore him before he leaves and after he returns for 15 minutes. Owner is to try to avoid signalling his departure to Elton.
. Owner to ignore all attention seeking behaviour.
. Elton has learned some basic obedience commands - the only time his owner can pet him or interact with him is after he has successfully completed a command.
. Elton is to get all of his food in a kong toy (prop) or as during training - he must earn everything
. Elton has to learn the command stay - gradually we will increase the distance and time the owner can leave him.
. Elton is to be confined to one room in the house - he can no longer follow owner from room to room.
. Elton's exercise schedule is to be increased dramatically.
. Also in this case because Elton is so agitated and because of the damage he is doing we are going to medicate him during this training process. This is usually the last port of call and we will gradually wean him off medication over the next few months. I will be in touch with his owner and as he progresses we will make some further changes.

For more information: www.myvet.ie/blog

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