Puppy and adolescent canine behavior problems (Proceedings)

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Puppy and adolescent canine behavior problems (Proceedings)

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Nov 01, 2009

Canine behavior problems can be a real challenge to correct, but with a little forethought and the right information, owners can easily prevent most common problems. Many owners begin their relationship with the new pet armed with misinformation and an idealistic view of the pet-owner relationship. Individuals in the pet health care profession have many opportunities to help owners get off to a good start. You can't take for granted that the owners know how to properly shape behaviors or handle problems, you need to ask what they know so you can help them promote good behavior and a good relationship with the new family member.

Rules for training young pets

I. Don't take good behaviors for granted

The best way for the pet to learn to do what the owner wants it to do is by rewarding it when it has done something acceptable. The owner should actively look for desired behaviors so that the pet can be praised.

II. Set the pet up to succeed

Most and puppies engage in quite predictable behaviors. They are active, inquisitive and get into everything. Puppies will eliminate anywhere and chew on everything until trained. It is up to the new pet owner to prevent mistakes by moving things out of reach and providing proper training. Close supervision or appropriate confinement may constantly be necessary for some pets until they reach two years of age. The young pet has a short attention span and is easily distracted. Owner's set it up to fail if they train too long or ask it to do something in the presence of a strong distraction. Owner education concerning what behaviors to expect from young, growing pets and how they should be handled is of utmost importance.

III. Don't take good behaviors for granted

Actively look for and reward all desirable behaviors.

IV. Be consistent

The whole family needs to sit down and agree upon which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. It is very important that all members handle specific behaviors in the same way. If the family or an individual is inconsistent, the pet will be confused, learning will be delayed and anxiety may result in serious behavior problems.

V. Avoid punishment

Owners must understand that if they strike the pet, the consequences can be disastrous. Handshyness, fear-biting, avoidance of humans, aggression and submissive urination may all result from physical punishment. One of the most important things that the pet must learn is that the human hand is a friend. A loud, abrupt, semi-startling reprimand is usually adequate to interrupt an undesirable behavior by a young pet. To be effective, the correction must be given during the behavior, every time the behavior occurs, should be intense enough to stop the behavior without causing significant anxiety and should stop when the behavior stops. If necessary, the owner can use a shake can, air horn, whistle or other device if the pet ignores verbal corrections. The owner should not rely on punishment alone to shape the pet's behavior. Alternate, desirable behavior should always be reinforced.

For behaviors that occur when the family is not present, environmental devices can be used to keep a pet away from areas where undesirable behaviors might occur.
     • Upside down mouse traps
     • Scatmat ®
     • Scraminal ® - motion activated alarm
     • Spray Barrier ®

Punishment
     • No physical punishment
     • Timing
     • Intensity
     • Consistency
     • Must stop when the behavior stops
     • Avoid association with the person

Always reinforce alternate, desirable behaviors