Awareness and Training
Before resorting to drugs, confinement or worse, caretakers should look at the environment and determine why the cat or dog is behaving the way they do.
In many cases, you can correct the behavior by eliminating the cause or changing the environment. If a dog is digging holes or barking excessively, he may be telling you he’s bored and needs more stimulation or exercise. If your cat suddenly begins urinating outside the litter box, she may be suffering from a urinary tract infection.
Be aware that the following factors can contribute to behavioral or emotional problems in pets:
- Medical – Diseased gums, joint or muscle pain can turn your previously friendly pooch into an aggressive or surly dog. A visit to the vet may reveal the reasons for changes in your pet’s behavior.
- Stress – A family pet can sense discord in a household and may act jumpy, distrustful or defensive. Evaluate your environment to see if there are ways to alleviate tension so that your companion feels safe and valued as a member of your household.
- Anxiety – Kenneling and travel can produce anxiety in pets. Some pets experience nausea in the car, while others may associate a ride in the car with being left at a kennel or a trip to the vet. This type of anxiety, as well as separation anxiety, can result in a range of unwanted conduct from your pet. Acting in a calm, unhurried manner will help reduce some anxiety. Products containing natural calming herbs such as valerian root, chamomile and passion flower help to sooth the nervous system. Flower essence (Rescue Remedy) have been used successfully for many years to reduce anxiety.
- Jealousy – A new member of the family – a boyfriend, new baby or new kitten or puppy -- can result in jealousy. Extra attention and affection toward your pet can go a long way to prevent unwanted behavior.
- Exercise – Lack of exercise and attention often results in destructive or annoying behavior such as barking, digging or chewing on the wrong things. A daily walk or game of catch provides an outlet for your dog’s energy. And it is good for your health too!
- Loud noises – While you can’t always prevent loud noises, you can reduce the fear or anxiety your pet feels by providing companionship during holiday celebrations or thunderstorms. When that is not possible, natural calming aids such as PetCalm, Sedaplus or Quiet Moments may help calm nervous pets.
- Nutrition – Make sure that your dog or cat is getting a high quality diet with the proper balance of nutrients. For example, an all protein diet can cause anxiety or hyperactivity and chemical additives can lead to aggression or hypersensitivity. If your dog or cat begins behaving badly or has sudden changes in their demeanor, evaluate what they are eating. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat.
Consult a Professional
In some cases, a visit to the vet may uncover the source of your pet's unruly behavior and medical treatment may be all that is necessary to correct the problem. However, in the vast majority of cases, some type of behavior modification training will be needed. Ask your vet for a recommendation on a trainer or visit one of these websites for accredited trainers or behaviorist:
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers
International Positive Dog Training Association
Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
Use an Integrative Approach
In summary, look for the causes of the inappropriate behavior and try to correct them. Rule out medical conditions. Consult with a professional trainer or behavioralist.
The following natural products are recommended to help with training and behavior issues, but they are most effective when used in an integrative approach to correcting behavior.
Composure by Vetri-Sciene
When pets can't adapt to stress, it can lead to anxiety, nervousness, hyperactivity, abnormal urine marking, excessive scratching, trembling and destructive or aggressive behavior. Composure by Vetri-Science is a calming support formula to help alleviate stress-related behavior problems without causing drowsiness or impaired motor skills.
Composure is available in three formulas - cats, small dogs, and medium/large size dogs.
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PetCalm by PetAlive
PetCalm is a homeopathic remedy that can help pets with separation anxiety, nervousness and phobias. It is fast acting and easy to adminster -- sprinkle the granules in your pet's mouth where they quickly disolve and begin to soothe your pet's nerves. Great to have on hand for stressful situations such as thunder, fireworks, new additions to the family, and separation anxiety.
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SedaplusVET from Thorne Research
SedaplusVET contains several botanicals to sooth the nervous system, including Valerian, Hops, Chamomile and Passion Flower. This product may also be used to help pets cope with stressful situations such as traveling, separation anxiety, and loud noises.
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Rescue Remedy for Pets by Bach Flower Essences
Rescue Remedy, made by Bach Flower Essence is a natural calming solution that has safely tamed the anxiety of pets and animals for many years. Veterinarians routinely use Research Remedy to calm dogs before examining them. It is also used in animals to decrease stress due to situations such as thunderstorms, traveling, and fireworks.
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Quiet Moments by NaturVet
Recommended to help support the nervous system in reducing stress and tension.
Quiet Moments offers support to your pet during periods of anxiety, nervousness, tension or stress such as traveling, grooming, thunderstorms, 4th of July, or trips to the veterinarian. Contains all natural active ingredients. (Comes in 6-tablet trial pack and 30 count bottle.)
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Mini Naturals Treats from Zuke's
Dogs of all shapes and sizes love these tiny treats. Zuke's Mini Naturals are the perfect size for frequent rewards without overfeeding. Plus they are packed with nutritious ingredients that you can feel good about giving to your dog. Trainers love them as much as dogs do!
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Coprophagia Deterrent from NaturVet
Stool eating is one of the more unpleasant things a dog can do. The natural ingredients in Coprophagia Deterrent makes the dog's feces taste bad (to the dog) and discourages them from eating it.
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Aggression Formula from PetAlive
Helps to reduce biting, scratching and other forms of aggressive behavior in dogs and cats. All natural formula combines effective herbal and homeopathic ingredients to calm the nervous system so that your pet can enjoy the company of other people and animals.
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