What has Your Pet Eaten Lately: Curbing Inappropriate Behaviors

pet chewing, puppy chewing, inappropriate chewing

Gidget trying to eat my shirt

As most of you know, I recently acquired a crazy new fuzzy family member. Since my pets have all come from shelters, it’s been a very long time since I had a puppy in the house. As I deal with all the issues I’m always discussing with clients, some of my old blogs have become very relevant. So here’s one from last spring that is currently near and dear to my heart. :)

 

 Welcome back to Tales & Tails with Dr. Ferrell. I hope your week is goingwell. To begin today’s blog, I have a little guessing game for you.

 

What do these items all have in common? A bowl of almonds, several pairs of underwear, a cup of yogurt, five Bluetooth earpieces, a bag of M&M’s, Dr. Regehr’s socks, multiple Sharpie pens, used tissue from the bathroom trash, three dog beds, and anything I or Dr Regehr leave unsupervised on our desks at work. Answer: these are just some of the items my dog Jiggy has eaten or shredded in the two years that I’ve had her. And yes, I said five not-inexpensive Bluetooth earpieces. Luckily, I haven’t had to remove anything from her stomach surgically yet, and the only thing I’ve only had to make her vomit was the M&M’s. The rest I found in pieces or deposited in the yard, if you know what I mean.

 

I’ll be honest. I used to get frustrated when clients’ pets had to

"You didn't want to read the mail did you? 'Cuz I ate it."

“You didn’t want to read the mail did you? ‘Cuz I ate it.”

have surgery multiple times so I could remove the latest foreign body. Now I’m just waiting my turn and I have a much better understanding of the difficulties in entertaining a high energy pet. I’ll think I have everything hidden or out of reach, but Jiggy always finds a way to get into trouble. She can climb like a cat and she’s so fast! She can finish off her latest discovery before I’m even aware she’s grabbed it. So what have I done to curb some of that excess energy? And what can you do for your mischief makers at home?

 

There are hundreds of behavior modification techniques out there. And when your pet is acting out, you need to discuss the issue with your veterinarian so an individualized plan can be fit to your pet’s needs and your family’s lifestyle. But for addressing every day mischievousness, some simple changes may help. Both physical and mental exercise and activity are a must!  We can’t expect our pets to be on their own for entertainment for hours every day (the time you’re sleeping or away from home or just plain busy) and not get into trouble.  So we have to maximize the quality of our time with them and find ways to keep them entertained when we’re busy.

 

Step one: walk your dogs. Every day. Twice daily is even better. Ideally, walk 20-30 minutes in the morning and again in the evening. If you don’t have that much time, do the best you can. Dedicate a specific time every day to walk, so it becomes part of your routine. And get the family involved–walking is great for humans too!  Walking will help decrease your dog’s excess physical and mental energy so they go looking for less trouble later. I know Jiggy is much less apt to misbehave on days she’s had a good walk. Do you have a problem walker? Try a Gentle Leader or call us for other options and more advice.

 

Step two: play with your cats! Experiment with different types of toys to determine what your cat likes. Corey Cat is completely enamored with the laser pointer and will chase it for as long as the battery lasts.  There are more cat toys available now than you can imagine. Feathers, fuzzy mice, things that squeak and move and dance on their own–the list goes on and on. Exercise and interaction with you are imperative to your cat’s health and will make them more content, better behaved pets.

 

Step three: make your pets’ daily activities more interesting. Instead of plopping their food in a bowl as you run out the door, get them a feeding toy like a Kong (adorable video here) or the ones shown below. These are available in all shapes and sizes for both dogs and cats. An inexpensive option for a cat is to poke kibble-sized holes in a foam cup or water bottle. Put the lid on and you have a feeding toy that will entertain all day. The point is to make your pet problem-solve and move around to get their food, again decreasing that excess physical and mental energy that leads to trouble.

 

 

Explore your options and find what fits with your schedule and lifestyle, but make your pets a priority. They’ll be more content and better behaved pets and you’ll have fewer messes to clean up. And if you’re stumped about what would work best for you, call us anytime and we’ll help you find the best plan for your pets and your family.

(reprint from 4/10/14)

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