Behavioral problems are one of the leading reasons domestic pets are euthanized. Starting puppies and kittens off with proper training is key to preventing issues in the future. If you have concerns about your pets behavior or notice a change in your pets behavior we recommend scheduling a consultation to address the problem early.
Crate training is one of the best things an owner can do for their dog or cat. Crate training puppies and kittens not only protects them from harm, it also prevents destructive behavior when they are left alone. Crate training at a young age makes it easier for pets to be boarded and makes for calmer pets if hospitalization is needed in the future. Crate training is a process and the crate should be a safe place for pets. Crates should never be used as punishment. All cats should be crate or carrier trained as kittens to make transport much less stressful.
Basic obedience is essential for all pets to learn at any early age. Teaching a dog to sit prior to any attention or reward can help curb problem behaviors in the future like jumping and barking. Basic obedience can be taught by owners at home or can be done in a group setting through classes. Cats can be trained in the same way as dogs and can learn many of the same commands.
Handling a puppy or kitten at a young age will make them more receptive to being handled when older. Doing at home physical exams on your pets can be a great way of acclimating them to being touched and can make administration of medications much easier in the future. Open and close their eyes and mouths, look in their ears and wipe them out, and touch their feet and nails. Teach them to lay still on their side and back.
Socialization is also very important for all puppies and kittens. This includes exposure to people, other animals of all kinds, and exposure to objects and noises. The socialization period for puppies is 3–14 weeks of age and for kittens it is 3–9 weeks of age. Safe exposure to as many things as possible during this period will help to reduce anxiety and fear in the future.
Litter Box Hygiene
Litter box hygiene is crucial for keeping cats healthy and preventing behavioral marking. Litter boxes should be 1.5 times the length of the cat and should be easy to get in and out of. Avoid hooded litter boxes as they can trap odors and cause avoidance. The rule of thumb for litter boxes is number of litter boxes = number of cats plus 1. In addition, litter boxes need to be placed in multiple locations in the house, this is especially important in multi cat households. A high quality unscented scoopable cat litter should be used. Litter boxes should contain several inches of litter and be scooped morning and evening. Under bed storage boxes make excellent and inexpensive litter boxes. Place litter boxes in low traffic areas away from any loud noises that may startle cats.
Older pets can be trained as well with time and patience. A consultation with a professional trainer or behavioralist may be recommended depending on the severity of the problem. For pets where behavior modification has been unsuccessful, medication may be prescribed to help with behavioral issues.