Dog may be man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean that our canine (and feline) housemates are angels. In fact, most people will admit to their pets having some less than desirable habits.

Have you ever stopped to think, though, that maybe you are the root of bad pet behavior? Most of our pet problems stem from mistakes we have made as pet owners. Union Lake Pet Services knows that you want to be the best pet parent you can be, and so we have included all the information you need to banish bad pet behavior for good.

Conditioning and You

Most of our pet’s behaviors rely on two basic principles:  classical and operant conditioning. Let’s explore:

Classical conditioning – Some of you may be familiar with Pavlov’s dogs. A neutral stimulus is associated with something significant in your pet’s life. It is why your pooch does a happy dance when he sees a leash and why your cat comes running when you open the drawer that houses the catnip.

Operant conditioning – Operant conditioning, on the other hand, is the process of molding behaviors. Behaviors are reinforced or weakened through rewards or punishments. Operant conditioning is the reason your dog barks more and more aggressively at the mail carrier (he leaves every time, doesn’t he?) or your cat avoids the counter tops when something like tin foil is placed on them repeatedly.

Much of our furry family member’s’ behavior is centered around these principles, and they are helpful to keep in mind when troubleshooting problem behaviors (and trying to prevent them from forming). Praising your pet when she jumps up on you to greet you might feel good in the moment, but don’t forget that you are conditioning her to greet all of your guests that way.

Other Sources of Bad Pet Behavior

Besides unintentional conditioning that can lead to bad pet behavior, there are other things that we as pet owners do (or don’t do) that can make our perfect angels nightmares. These include:

Lack of stimulation – Idle hands (or paws) are the tools of the devil. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but lack of physical and/or mental stimulation can lead to all sorts of behavior nightmares. Most pets need daily exercise and interaction, and often a lot more than we provide. Be sure to encourage activity, provide plenty of toys and interactive activities, and decrease boredom through things like doggie day care opportunities.

A bad match – Sometimes we pick a pet that just isn’t for us. Do your research so that you don’t end up with a high energy pet, or a breed with special needs that your family can’t handle.

Hormones gone wild – Spaying and neutering have many benefits, but doing so before sexual maturity can prevent the development of problem behaviors like territorial marking.

Poor socialization – Many pet owners miss the prime socialization window in puppy- or kitten hood that is essential to developing a well adjusted pet. Puppy or kitten classes early in life can result in more confident, better behaved pets.

There aren’t bad pets, but unfortunately we sometimes fail our animals. Luckily, you have a great resource in Union Lake Pet Services. We are proud to be here to help you with your four legged babies. Please call us today so that we can get started helping you keep your perfect pet acting like the dog or cat they are or troubleshoot training problems with you.