With the increase of acquisitions of pets during the last 18 months, there has been a huge spike of issues in dogs and cats such as aggression, destructive and anti-social behaviour, separation anxiety, and other serious health concerns. Unfortunately, due to circumstances much out of our control, our pets have not had the usual introduction to family life such as visitors to the home, puppy preschool, normal absences of school and work, socialisation at the dog park, travelling in the car, etc. Your pet might just be coming out of this lockdown never having met another soul other than you! What this means moving forward for us and our pets, is that greater effort and focus must be taken to help them transition into this new phase of life, where hopefully things are returning a little more to normal! If you are concerned about your pet and their behaviour, here are some things to think about and also try at home:
- Consultation with your vet or referral to a behaviouralist – with any kind of problem with behaviour in our pets, it is always best to have a veterinary consult to rule out any underlying medical issue that may be contributing to it. This can also be a useful visit to discuss the possibility of medications that could assist in managing these behaviours. If the behavioural issues are severe enough and other health issues have been crossed off the list, your pet may be referred to a veterinary behaviouralist who can assist in working one on one with you and your family to figure out the best ways of helping your furry housemate through this difficult transition.
- Get those puppies to school! – with the promise of our vaccination rates hitting 90% very shortly, our puppy preschool is reopening! All the information you need will be on our website, or feel free to call the clinic for more details. Preschool is paramount in providing your puppy with the necessary training and socialisation that is vital to their development at that age. It can also be fantastic training for you as well! If your puppy is a little too old for preschool, we have some fantastic places for dog obedience to recommend, just give the clinic a call to discuss with us further.
- Have people around to play with your pets – just like our children, our pets need constant and safe exposure to people and situations that are ever changing. This helps them to become desensitised and unreactive to day-to-day things, and helps them to feel safe when their situation, or those around them changes.
- Pop them in the car and go for a road trip! – The last time your pet got in the car might have been the day you brought them home! Some animals adapt to car travel with ease, whilst others can be wary, terrified, or even get motion sickness! It is important to take necessary steps to introduce the car as a positive and stress-free experience as possible. Short trips around the block, a drive that ends at the dog park or the beach (not just the vet!), and even some treats during the trip if appropriate, are just some ways to make the car less daunting. If your pet really struggles with travel, give us a ring to speak to one of our nurses for some general advice, or book in for a consultation with a vet.
- Boredom Busters – with most of us heading back to work or school, our pets will be missing our constant presence at home, and this may manifest in some pretty undesirable behaviours! Giving them something to do whilst you are out of the house will not only occupy their minds, it may just save your couch from getting eaten! For some handy tips on how to entertain them; https://narrevet.com.au/indoor-boredom-busters-for-when-the-weather-isnt-playing-ball/
- Stick with them! – We all have been forced to adjust and adapt in these last couple of years, so we also need to remember to be patient with our pets whilst they navigate this new normal too. Behavioural issues are often some of the trickiest to manage and treat, however it can be incredibly rewarding when we take the time and necessary steps to give our pets what they need. Be sure to always seek professional advice from a veterinarian before making decisions about your pet and their health.