Quick Tips

How do I stop my pet annoying me?

Interrupt early with a whistle click or clap and redirect to treat, toy, bed or on-lead.  The typical first reaction to a problem behaviour whether it is human or animal is to yell – ask any parent!  However, if we can train ourselves to whistle, click or clap instead, it helps to reduce the potential escalation of the situation.  Once we start to yell, our body chemistry and body language changes and the animal easily picks up on this potential threat and may not know how to respond.  Once you have interrupted the problem behaviour, you need to quickly redirect your pet’s attention to a treat, toy or ‘Come’ or ‘Bed’ instruction i.e. something more acceptable.  It is similar to a toddler about to investigate a power point – click, say ‘Don’t touch’ and redirect their attention to a toy.  Timing is critical.

What's the best way to train my pet?

Alternate rewards-based Come-Sit-Shake-Stay-Down training with excitable play then calm reassuring side-on hug with firm, gentle stroking.  Pets like people need to burn off excess energy e.g. chase around the house, tug-o-war with a towel.  To help the animal to practice calming down, use treats to pay your pet to Come and Sit and Stay.  At the same time practice deep slow breaths yourself, to calm your body language and chemistry.  The pet smells and sees this and responds by settling down (mostly).  After a few minutes training, bounce around with your pet again.  Then ask them to Come n Sit n Stay next to you while you hug them to your side and stroke them firmly and slowly i.e. again practicing calm settled behaviour.

How do I handle a dog with too much energy?

Go for a 5 min walk (or car ride) twice daily in local streets, parks or bush.  Pets like people go a bit ‘stir crazy’ if confined to the house or yard for to log without a break.  For a dog that has explored the back yard 20 times before breakfast, getting outside to sniff and explore the footpath for five minutes is a wonderful outing.  If it is raining or you have an injury that precludes you from walking, a five minute car-ride is a good outing that enables the dog to see the neighbourhood or sniff new aromas.

How do I stop my dog pulling on a walks?

On walks, alternate short-lead (for better control) and loose-lead (for exploration).  So many people think they have to force their dog to walk next to them all the time.  Your pet is not a working ‘Guide Dog for the Blind’ or in a championship obedience trial, so it should have the opportunity to explore, sniff and enjoy its environment.  Alternating this exploration with sensible ‘heel’ work teaches your dog that there is a time and a place for excitement and self control i.e. reasonable boundaries.

How do I remain in control when talking to my pet?

Use a Calm Controlled Teacher Voice when chatting with your pet.  Repeating instructions or yelling tends to escalate the situation to ‘Code Red’ and can lead to rebellion or conflict.  Deep Breathing helps you to practice being calm and gives your pet an example to follow.  Veterinary Behaviour Specialist Karen Overall has developed a great protocol to help you learn this technique.

How do I train my pet to calm down?

The music that helps you to relax, helps your pet to relax as well.  Training your pet on a security blanket or towel with food rewards while listening to your favourite music strengthens the association and establishes calm settled behaviour.  Any of these cues then are associated with calm ‘happy’ thoughts – secure place, food, attention from owner, settling sound.  Slow firm stroking from head to shoulders to rump to tail will also provide settling cues so your pet knows how and when to calm down.

Why does my cat like to sit on the back of the lounge?

Cats love to survey their ‘kingdom’ from an elevated refuge.  Especially if cats share the house with dogs, sitting on the back of the lounge elevates them above the normal ‘hub bub’ of family life and they feel safe to have a cat nap.  As an alternative refuge, try placing a towel on a book shelf with a few bits of dry food and a favourite toy.  Rubbing your hands n feet on the towel beforehand provides a familiar family aroma that comforts them.