Identifying and Correcting Common Pet Behavior Problems

A grey cat opens its mouth wide.

Pets are the light of our lives, but it goes without saying that we don’t love everything about them. Pet behavior problems are common, and can put a real damper on our enjoyment of our furry friends.

A thorough understanding of the common pet behavior problems is the first step towards correcting them. The good news is that most behavior issues can be fixed relatively simply and quickly.

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Trusted Tips for Training Your New Pet

If your family is among those who grew by four paws during the pandemic, you might be on the hunt for information about training your new pet. There is a lot of information out there, but not all of it is good. Your team at Animal Family Care Veterinary Center is glad to help you sort through what’s out there and even bring you some of our own expert tips!

Fundamentals of Training Your New Pet

When it comes to training your new pet, there are some basic concepts that are essential for success. 

Our favorite buzz words include:

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Those Terrible Teens: You and Your Adolescent Puppy

Much like human pre-teens and teens, adolescence in dogs can be a challenging time. 

Like a teenager, in fact, you may notice your dog expressing themselves in ways you don’t always appreciate, such as ignoring commands, wanting to roam, etc. This age – when your pet is 6 months or so – is prime time for reinforcing good behavior, especially if you don’t want the “bad” behaviors to stick.

Your friends at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center are here with suggestions for you and your adolescent puppy. We can help explain what to expect during the terrible teens to make them terrific for you and your bestie. 

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Pets and Pee Pads: A Conundrum

Pet pee pads may not be the most glamorous thing to have around the house, but they can be indispensable when it comes to housetraining a puppy or a newly adopted adult dog. Although they can be helpful in many circumstances, care and planning should be used to avoid pet pee pads from becoming a crutch and thwarting long-term housetraining.

Animal Family Veterinary Care Center explores the pros and cons of using pet pee pads. 

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Exciting Endeavors: Caring for Your New Puppy

new puppyThere is nothing more exciting than bringing home a new puppy, and experiencing all the love and joy they will add to your family. Owning a puppy isn’t all fun and games, however. By putting a little time, energy, and planning into puppy care, you can ensure that you’ll have a best friend for life.

Animal Family Veterinary Care Center shares our best tips and ideas for caring for your new puppy. We’re excited to be a part of your pet care family, and looking forward to setting you and your puppy on the road to lifelong health and happiness together.

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Making Veterinary Less Stressful for Your Dog

We have all seen owners and/or trainers who have taught their dog, bird, horse, or cat to do amazing things. Birds with huge vocabularies, bike riding dogs, and dancing horses. So how hard should it really be to teach our dog to tolerate a visit to the vet?? If you’re willing to invest a little time, you can train your dog to be a happier patient.

It’s all about practice, practice, practice.  The first place your new puppy should visit is the veterinary office. The very first visit should just be to say hello and get some treats. Use the second visit to make sure they are healthy…

Get your puppy used to having his/her feet handled at home. Start by holding a paw then move on to grasping a toenail. Even if you never plan on clipping nails at home, get your pup accustomed to the clipper around their feet. Remember to use lots of treats and praise!

 Teach your puppy how to take pills before they actually need to. Have your puppy sit sideways next to you or on your lap if they are small. Place one hand around the top jaw with your thumb and middle finger behind the canines. Use your other thumb and forefinger to gently open the lower jaw. Now just place a small treat or piece of cheese in the mouth on the tongue. Do this a few times and you shouldn’t have any trouble when the time to actually medicate comes along. Today there are even specially made products to hide pills in that most dogs love!

Handle your puppy’s ears, clean the area around their eyes, lift their tail, and run your hands along their abdomen. Desensitizing your pup to handling is one of the kindest things you can do for them.

Teach your dog to stand quietly. Much of a veterinary exam is done with the pet standing. If your dog is accustomed to standing calmly beforehand the stress level will go way down. Again, use treats and gentle praise to let your dog know they are doing the correct thing.

Teach your dog to walk on a leash. If your dog is out of control in the waiting area things will only go downhill in the exam room.

Once your pet is protected by vaccines, schedule a puppy class and/or doggie daycare. A well-socialized dog is a stable dog.  No kidding…our happiest patients are campers and Puppy Class alumni.

It’s OK to bring something from home. A toy or blanket works fine and pets find the familiar odor of home calming.

If you‘re nervous your dog will be too. Whatever you feel telegraphs directly to your pet. Some people can’t actually be in the room with their dog and that’s OK. Just don’t let your limitations make things more difficult for your pet.

Animal Family’s Guide to Potty Training Puppy

puppy3 When it comes to puppy training consistency is the key.

 

  • Always use the same door to take your puppy outside to eliminate.BC pup

  • Take him or her to the same area. Hopefully once that area smells like urine and stool their sense of smell will help stimulate them to eliminate.

  • Go out with them, so you can praise while they are going and give a treat right afterwards. Don’t give them their treat once they are in the house. If you do, you praised them for is coming back in, not going potty outdoors.

  • Always use the same word for elimination, Start talking as soon as you take them out of the kennel and continue until you get to the designated place outside. Choose a word. It can be “go potty”, “do your business” or any other phrase that works for both you and your puppy.camp 226

  • If your puppy starts going to the door on his or her own, ask them to let you know it’s time to go out. An easy way to do this is to hang a bell by your door. You can teach the pup to touch the bell or simply reward them when they do it inadvertently.

  • If your puppy goes outside and doesn’t get down to business (within 5 minutes or so) bring them back indoors and put them in their kennel.  Wait about 15-20 minutes and try again. Make a big deal about it when they go outside “YAY!!! GOOD PUPPY, GOOD JOB….LOOK HOW SMART YOU ARE!!!!!”  Go ahead and give a treat as well. (Remember, give the treat while they are outside.)

  • Anytime your puppy has been playing for more the 30 minutes go outside again…… Puppies can’t engage in more than 30-50 minutes of activecaption this play without needing to eliminate!

  • Puppy stays in the kennel when you can’t give them 100 % of your attention!!!! That way they can’t sneak off into another room. Use it like a play pen or crib for babies . As they get better, try using the kennel less and less.

  • If your puppy makes a mistake in the house, clean it up thoroughly and be more vigilant. The fewer mistakes your puppy makes indoors the faster he or she will learn. No corrections unless you catch them in the act. If you see your pup going potty in the house, startle and redirect. Yell, shake a penny can or throw a toy towards them and then quickly take them to their designated area outdoors. Spankings just scare and confuse the puppy. 

  • Repeat as needed for good house breaking…. If you put all of your work in at the beginning you and Rover WILL SUCCEED!cute bulldog puppy

  • House breaking in the winter is a good thing!!!! I find that you and your dog spend very little time outside, so the puppy really learns what you want. Whereas in the summer, when both people and pets want to spend a lot of time outside, puppy can potty any time and may have a much harder time understanding the actual mission.

If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 563-391-9522 or check out our web site https://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com

Tips for Choosing the Right Puppy

 

            Spring is in the air and so is puppy love. This is the time of year when many of us yearn for a new puppy… what could be cuter?  Dogs make wonderful companions.  Just remember not to jump into pet ownership thoughtlessly. There are many factors that should be considered to ensure that your new puppy is the proper fit for your family.

  •   The first thing you need to look at is YOU.  How active are you?  Do you have children?  How old are they?  How old are you?  Do you live in an apartment, single family home or in the country?  Is your yard fenced?  What is your personality like? Are you assertive, passive or somewhere in between?  Do you have any disabilities or health issues?  Do you mind spending time or money on grooming your pet? How picky are you about your house?  Do you think pets should even be in the house?  The list goes on but the point is the first thing you need to look at is your life and lifestyle.  

 Once you have an idea of your parameters, it’s time to start looking at the dog. 

  •  What size of dog fits you?  Large dogs require more space. They can be more difficult for a petite or older person to handle. They are more expensive to feed, medicate, spay or neuter.  They can be a heck of a lot more work to exercise as well. As for small dogs: they require less of everything but activity.  Size does not relate to activity level.  There are some VERY busy small breeds. 
  • How about activity levels.  You need to be very honest with yourself about what activity level you can tolerate in your pet. Age and general health may dictate a small, quiet, older animal.  Are you interested in taking your dog to the dog park or out for a walk or run every day?  Even with a large backyard, most active breeds will require additional exercise.  If you’re a couch potato, many of the hunting and herding breeds may be too high energy for you. Think about your children as well.   If they are too boisterous and rowdy, they may terrify some of the more timid breeds. 
  •   Then there’s sociability.  Do you want a dog that loves everyone or a more reserved animal that may bond only to you or your immediate family?  If you love entertaining or traveling, be sure to get an animal that will enjoy it as well.  Clearly, a one person dog would not be a great idea if you usually have your children as well as all the neighbors’ kids running through the house.
  •  Emotional stability is just as important.  Some breeds are very easy going and unflappable.  Others are less so.  That includes many of the smaller breeds but some of the big guys as well. Again, this is particularly important if you have small children or an active social life. Do your homework and make certain you find a breed that will tolerate busy little hands and bodies.
  • Trainability.  Don’t confuse intelligence with trainability.  Many of the so-called smart breeds can actually be quite difficult to train.  Trainability should be thought of as the “will to please”.   So, if you insist on perfect behavior, do your homework and plan on spending some time in obedience classes as well.  But, if what you really want is a pet that will simply sit, lie down and not eat up the house there are plenty of contenders out there.  PLEASE just don’t buy a highly motivated Border collie or other overachiever if you don’t have the time to keep them busy. When not kept occupied these doggie geniuses may end up destroying your home out of boredom and frustration.   
  •  Dominance.  Unfortunately many people confuse dominance and aggression.  Most of the biting dogs we see in veterinary practice are actually fearful in nature.  Dominant animals are generally confident if they have a calm, assertive owner. In the simplest terms dominance can be thought of as the how hard your dog will work to get his or her own way.  Dominance is variable.  Some dogs may just be dominant over other dogs but submissive to people.  Dominance is not related to size either.  There are a lot of pint sized Napoleons out there.  Be sure to match your will to rule to that of your future pet.
  •   Hardiness.  Pay special attention to hardiness when selecting a breed.  Bulldogs and some of the short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds don’t do well in the heat.  Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and other short coated dogs are not suited to outdoor life in the colder climates.  Matted coats, burned skin, heat stroke or frost bite may all be the consequences of wrong choices made on your part.  Then again, some breeds have been so completed altered by human kind that they are born with an array of health problems just waiting to happen.  No matter what, it’s still best to know ahead of time.
  •  Grooming.  Do you mind brushing your dog every day?  How about a grooming bill once a month?  How about a really big grooming bill once a month? Would you prefer a non-shedding coat? How about a dog with almost no coat at all?  Do you know how to care for eyes and ears or nails and matted hair?  What about anal glands?  Every breed has different grooming care needs.  Don’t overlook this when selecting your dog.

 Great dogs can be found in a lot of places.  That includes shelters and rescue groups.  We wish you good luck in your search and hope that you have figured out that picking the right puppy involves a lot more than who’s got the cutest brown eyes.  Hopefully, you now know that it takes a well thought out plan that combines your needs with those of your future pet.  So be sure to use all of the resources available to you.  Read books, attend dog shows, ask your veterinarian, talk to your friends, talk to breed associations, do whatever it takes to make yourself aware and educated.  Then go ahead and take the big leap into puppy love.

 

Veterinary Clinic Gives Pointers on Choosing the Right Puppy

Summer is here and so is puppy love. This is the time of year when many of us yearn for a new puppy… what could be cuter?  Dogs make wonderful companions.  Just remember not to jump into pet ownership thoughtlessly. There are many factors that should be considered to ensure that your new puppy is the proper fit for your family.

  •  The first thing you need to look at is YOU.  How active are you?  Do you have children?  How old are they?  How old are you?  Do you live in an apartment, single family home or in the country?  Is your yard fenced?  What is your personality like? Are you assertive, passive or somewhere in between?  Do you have any disabilities or health issues?  Do you mind spending time or money on grooming your pet? How picky are you about your house?  Do you think pets should even be in the house?  The list goes on but the point is the first thing you need to look at is your life and lifestyle.

 Once you have an idea of your parameters, it’s time to start looking at the dog.  

  •   What size of dog fits you?  Large dogs require more space. They can be more difficult for a petite or older person to handle. They are more expensive to feed, medicate, spay or neuter.  They can be a heck of a lot more work to exercise as well. As for small dogs: they require less of everything but activity.  Size does not relate to activity level.  There are some VERY busy small breeds.
  •   How about activity levels.  You need to be very honest with yourself about what activity level you can tolerate in your pet. Age and general health may dictate a small, quiet, older animal.  Are you interested in taking your dog to the dog park or out for a walk or run every day?  Even with a large backyard, most active breeds will require additional exercise.  If you’re a couch potato, many of the hunting and herding breeds may be too high energy for you. Think about your children as well.   If they are too boisterous and rowdy, they may terrify some of the more timid breeds. 
  •   Then there’s sociability.  Do you want a dog that loves everyone or a more reserved animal that may bond only to you or your immediate family?  If you love entertaining or traveling, be sure to get an animal that will enjoy it as well.  Clearly, a one person dog would not be a great idea if you usually have your children as well as all the neighbors’ kids running through the house.
  •  Emotional stability is just as important.  Some breeds are very easy going and unflappable.  Others are less so.  That includes many of the smaller breeds but some of the big guys as well. Again, this is particularly important if you have small children or an active social life. Do your homework and make certain you find a breed that will tolerate busy little hands and bodies.
  •  Trainability.  Don’t confuse intelligence with trainability.  Many of the so-called smart breeds can actually be quite difficult to train.  Trainability should be thought of as the “will to please”.   So, if you insist on perfect behavior, do your homework and plan on spending some time in obedience classes as well.  But, if what you really want is a pet that will simply sit, lie down and not eat up the house there are plenty of contenders out there.  PLEASE just don’t buy a highly motivated Border collie or other overachiever if you don’t have the time to keep them busy. When not kept occupied these doggie geniuses may end up destroying your home out of boredom and frustration.   
  •   Dominance.  Unfortunately many people confuse dominance and aggression.  Most of the biting dogs we see in veterinary practice are actually fearful in nature.  Dominant animals are generally confident if they have a calm, assertive owner. In the simplest terms dominance can be thought of as the how hard your dog will work to get his or her own way.  Dominance is variable.  Some dogs may just be dominant over other dogs but submissive to people.  Dominance is not related to size either.  There are a lot of pint sized Napoleons out there.  Be sure to match your will to rule to that of your future pet.
  • Hardiness.  Pay special attention to hardiness when selecting a breed.  Bulldogs and some of the short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds don’t do well in the heat.  Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and other short coated dogs are not suited to outdoor life in the colder climates.  Matted coats, burned skin, heat stroke or frost bite may all be the consequences of wrong choices made on your part.  Then again, some breeds have been so completed altered by human kind that they are born with an array of health problems just waiting to happen.  No matter what, it’s still best to know ahead of time.
  •  Grooming.  Do you mind brushing your dog every day?  How about a grooming bill once a month?  How about a really big grooming bill once a month? Would you prefer a non-shedding coat? How about a dog with almost no coat at all?  Do you know how to care for eyes and ears or nails and matted hair?  What about anal glands?  Every breed has different grooming care needs.  Don’t overlook this when selecting your dog.

 Great dogs can be found in a lot of places.  That includes shelters and rescue groups.  We wish you good luck in your search and hope that you have figured out that picking the right puppy involves a lot more than who’s got the cutest brown eyes.  Hopefully, you now know that it takes a well thought out plan that combines your needs with those of your future pet.  So be sure to use all of the resources available to you.  Read books, attend dog shows, ask your veterinarian, talk to your friends, talk to breed associations, do whatever it takes to make yourself aware and educated.  Then go ahead and take the big leap into puppy love.

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.”

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are purebred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.https://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/training/
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.