barks feature | brave new world A swing in your shift Even a confident dog that is used to having the house to himself can be prone to the pitfalls of separation anxiety. Often, something as simple as a pet parent working a different shift is enough of a change to make a dog anxious and begin acting out. It’s reasonable to think that cats are immune to separation anxiety because of their natural independence, but that’s not the case. Cats may not be as vulnerable as dogs — many of whom live to please their owners — but they can still develop unease from too much time alone. Prescription: make interaction count, and improve the quality of alone time get up and go! “A good run or vigorous play session before you leave can zap some energy and help calm pets down,” Dr. Yin says. make a quiet exit: “About 15 minutes before you leave, put your pet in his special comfy ‘home alone’ place, like his bed or open crate. Make sure he’s being rewarded for time alone there.” tickle their brains: “Interactive toys can keep pets mentally and physically challenged for hours, and setting up food scavenger hunts by hiding bits of kibble around the house will not only make your pet’s time alone go by quickly, but also make it rewarding!” % it’s time to call for help when… There are a few trademark signs of separation anxiety for both cats and dogs. Cats often pace or excessively groom or vocalize. Other signals of stress include loss of appetite and of course, eliminating outside the litter box. Dogs can become destructive while home alone — from shredding paper to eating through walls! They can also typically forget their house training, pace, pant, bark and whine excessively. If any of these behaviors last a week or more, it’s time to get expert help before the situation declines. Who you gonna call? You’re certain that some type of action is necessary to help your pet — so where do you start? Here are some tips to find a great trainer or behaviorist who works within your budget and with your personality. Get vetted: If you’re less than 100% certain that pain or a medical condition could be affecting your pet’s behavior, call your vet. Depending on her assessment, you might be referred to a trainer or behaviorist. Initial here: Look for certifications such as CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainer) or CAAB (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist), or check out the Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ comprehensive list: http://apdt.com/petowners/choose Fit matters: You and your pet need to be comfortable with whomever you work with, so set up an interview to make sure there’s a good personality match. Try patience: Avoid trainers who claim that they can fix the problem quickly. Pushing through a behavior problem can backfire, resulting in increased anxieties or even aggression.
Shiny Happy Pets Issue
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