Owning a pet can be so rewarding. Dogs and cats are lovable and can be a great addition to your family. They do require training, consistent cues, and patience. Obedience training teaches your pet to behave. It also keeps your pet, and you, safe. Even with training, you may find yourself with a lovable pet that is still prone to getting into trouble. Whether it’s from incessant barking or biting, having a “naughty” pet can be stressful. Here are a few tips that may help when pets misbehave.
When Pets Misbehave
Whatever you do, always remember that positive reinforcement is the way to go. Pets have a very short memory, so physical punishment is ineffective and confusing for them. Teaching them basic commands like sit, stay, down, off, come, free, drop it, leave it, and wait are key to having a well behaved pet.
Dogs, cats, and even birds are prone to biting at times if they feel threatened or attacked by another animal or a human. Any pet can bite. It is important to properly socialize your pet to help prevent biting. A well socialized animal is less likely to be fearful in new situations and less likely to bite. Being aware of your pets body language and pay attention to any growling. Most animals demonstrate their fear or displeasure through body language or growling before they bite. When an animal alerts you that it is uncomfortable, you can remove it from the situation and then begin training them to become more comfortable in those situations.
Unfortunately, if your pet does bite someone, severe injuries can occur. Animal bites may require unexpected and immediate medical attention. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 dog bites require medical attention and up to 80% of cat bites and scratches can become infected. As a pet owner, if your pet bites someone, you’re liable for covering the unexpected costs and medical expenses associated with the bite. If your dog unexpectedly bites someone’s child when you’re taking him/her out for a walk, you could even be faced with a lawsuit.
Depending on the severity of the bite, you may find the unexpected medical or legal bills exceed what you have in your emergency savings. In situations like this, you may need to consider taking out line of credit loans or charging the expenses to a credit card in order to cover the unexpected costs. When the damage is your pet’s fault, you will be responsible for covering the unexpected expenses. Depending on where the bite occurred, it could also impact your home owner’s insurance or your renter’s insurance. If your pet bites someone, you may even need to hire an attorney for legal protection.
It’s important to be prepared, and have money set aside, for unexpected pet expenses. It would be best to use funds you have set aside for unexpected pet expenses before taking a loan or using credit. If you do have to take a loan or use credit, repay it as quickly as possible.
Tearing Up the Yard
When spending time in the yard, many dogs are prone to digging and tearing up the grass. In most cases, this is due to boredom and a lack of exercise.
As a pet owner, it’s important to provide your pet with an active lifestyle to help them burn their energy. Consider taking them on a walk each day, which can help them to maintain a healthy weight and will reduce their energy levels at home. You can also play fetch or tug-of-war outside to ensure they get enough attention and can have a bit of fun. Some pets just need to dig. Consider giving them a kiddie pool with dirt in it just for their digging.
Physical activity can also reduce any separation anxiety they may experience when you leave each day, which can improve their behavior and prevent them from destroying your property.
Chewing is an additional behavior that is common with dogs, especially when they’re puppies. Dogs can chew everything from furniture to shoes, which can lead to significant wear and damage to personal belongings. Chewing is fairly common and is often a phase. They often chew out of boredom or if they’re teething. Provide the pet with chew toys to divert their behavior and give them something that satisfies their need to munch on something.
If your pet is a power chewer like mine, it may be hard to find toys that aren’t destroyed within minutes of giving it to them. We’ve had a lot of luck with Tuffy, Kong, and Nylabone Power Chew toys.
Dogs are prone to barking each time someone passes by the property or if they hear noises in the distance. Anxious dogs bark at everything. Although it may offer a high level of protection to the home, it can also be annoying to listen to for the owner and neighbors. In many cases, excessive barking occurs when a dog hasn’t been trained properly. It often occurs when the pet needs attention, which can result in the behavior being reinforced once the owner yells or tells the dog to stop barking. You can change their behavior with proper training. For some yappy dogs, like ours, an ultrasonic bark deterrent may be necessary.
Too Much Pulling on Walks
Many owners find it difficult to control their dog on walks because the animal can pull too much. Pulling can make for a challenging time spent outside. Training the dog is essential to ensure they understand the rules when you take walks together and learn how to respect your authority. Keep a firm grip on the leash and perform commands to ensure your dog learns to stay by your side without pulling. Using a standard harness can make it easier to control their movements as you train them. If they attempt to chase an object, say, “let’s go” and turn around in the opposite direction.
You can practice this activity in your own yard. Use an upbeat voice and slap your thigh to get your dog’s attention. The dog should also learn they have to keep up with your pace and can’t take their time sniffing everything as you go on a stroll together. Over time, they’ll learn what’s expected of them and that you’re the one in control.
Knowing the right steps to take when pets misbehave helps you to have a plan of action as the owner. Training, consistency, and patience can help turn your pet into a model family member.