Behavioural problems can become a household issue very quickly. Thankfully help is available!
Behaviour problems can be seen in pets from all walks of life and appear to be more common than in the past.
WHY DO PROBLEMS OCCUR?
Problems occur for a variety of reasons. Each case is different and causes can be very simple or complicated. Your pets problem(s) could be caused by one or several of the following factors:
Lack of socialisation – From 3-14 weeks of age, puppies and kittens need to be safely exposed to as many different and new experiences as possible to prepare them for later life. Pets that have not had this early socialisation may grow to be fearful of people, things and places and this can lead to many problems including aggression.
Boredom – Pets that are bored through lack of mental stimulation might amuse themselves with destructive behaviour.
Excess energy – A lack of physical exercise can also lead to ‘bad behaviour’, as a pet must find other ways to get rid of his pent-up energy.
Owner behaviour – Owners can train their pets to behave ‘badly’ by accident, simply by giving attention at the wrong time.
Unrealistic owner expectations – Because we tend to get very close to our pets, we sometimes forget that they are still animals and may treat them more like children. We may think that they have more ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’ than they really do and these unfair expectations can lead to disappointment.
Breed specific traits – Certain types and breeds of dog have been bred for hundreds of years for specific tasks, which might be incompatible with living in a typical family home.
Bad breeding practices – Unscrupulous breeders might have indiscriminately bred their pets purely for money, without considering temperament.
Diet – It is thought that some pets behaviour may be affected by what they are fed. It is possible that diets that are too high in protein or the wrong type of protein may cause hyperactivity in certain pets. Allergies to certain ingredients may also adversely affect behaviour.
Inadequate or incorrect training – Without proper training, pets can be uncontrollable.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR DOG’S BEHAVIOUR?
Take your dog to the vet – Some behavioural problems can be caused by medical conditions or illnesses, so it is essential to rule out this possibility.
Ask your vet to refer you to a reputable behaviourist – You and your pet may need to have a personal consultation with the behaviourist so they can accurately diagnose the problem and recommend a treatment plan for you to follow.
With some problems you may need to attend follow-up consultations, or keep in contact by phone if any difficulties occur. Going to a behaviourist, a reputable one, such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) or the UK Registry of Canine Behaviourists (UKRCB). If you have pet insurance remember to check the policy details, as you might be able to claim for the cost of consultations.