Gaston County

NORTH CAROLINA

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Animal Care and Enforcement

Behavior Help

Information and Tips
We have compiled helpful information and tips for overcoming the most common behavioral problems faced by pet parents. Browse the educational articles below to learn techniques for addressing housetraining, crate training, jumping up, scratching, digging and more.

Dog


How Do I Prevent or Solve Behavior Problems With My Dog?

German Shepherd and Small DogUnless we provide our dogs with acceptable ways of expressing their doggie nature they will resort to activities which we consider behavior problems. Chewing, barking or urinating are only inappropriate when done at the wrong time or in the wrong place. It is not fair to be angry with your dog if you have not first taught them what you want them to do, and prevented them from doing the wrong behaviors. Here are some guidelines to get you started:

1. Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. Male dogs that are not neutered will frequently urine mark in the house and can develop aggressive tendencies towards other dogs. Females that are not spayed have a tendency to wander and also urine mark in your home.

2. Exercise your dog until they are pleasantly tired. Provide them with mental as well as physical exercise. Make them use their brain by practicing obedience exercises. Go to a park and practice sit, down, stay and heel. Then reward them with a good romp or game of catch.

3. Have your dog spend as much time as possible indoors.
Have them sleep indoors at night, preferably in a crate in your bedroom.

4. Practice “learn to earn” as much as possible.
Teach your dog as least one exercise, such as “sit,” then cue them to do this behavior to “earn” their meals, petting, a walk, entry to the house, or a play session with you. In the same way that small children learn to say, “please and thank you,” they will learn that sitting is acceptable polite behavior.

5. Set your dog up for success.
Instead of “catching them in the act” and punishing them, prevent them from getting in trouble in the first place and reward your dog when they behave properly. For example, if they jump up at the table while you are eating, rather than yelling at them after they have already done the unacceptable behavior keep them tethered or crated with a high value chew toy like a stuffed Kong during meal time.

6. Provide your dog with their own places to sleep.
Avoid letting them on your furniture or bed.

7. Prevent or ignore undesirable behaviors such as jumping up, mouthing, mounting, pawing or barking for attention because attempting to stop unwanted behaviors can result in inadvertently reinforcing that behavior. Reward your dog for acceptable behaviors such as sitting and lying down.

8. Use a “time buffer.”
Ignore your dog for 15 minutes or so before you leave home. Leave without fanfare. When you come home ignore your dog until she is calm. Have guests also ignore your dog until they are relaxed. Reward good behavior with attention.

9. Be sure that everyone in the family is treating your dog consistently
and following the same routine. Use one word to mean one thing. Avoid using conflicting cues like “sit down,” “stay down” or “quiet down.” Instead say “sit,” “down” or “quiet” for each different exercise.

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Domestic Short Hair Cat

 Cat



Articles and downloads from the “Pets for Life” series shared with permission from our friends at Humane New Mexico