Pet behaviour problems

Pet behavioural problems can be due to both behavioural causes and/or medical causes. At Sydney Animal Hospitals our veterinarians will investigate pet behavioural problems by obtaining a full history and conducting a full examination including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions and accurately diagnose a problem.

Behavioural problems are often the combined effect of many factors, including your pet’s environment and learning. Here are some:

  1. Genetics can predispose your pet to some behaviours. However, the expression of those behaviours will depend on your pet’s early socialisation and training.
  2. Changes in the environment may contribute to the emergence of behavioural problems. These can include:
    • changes in routine
    • a new member of the household (pet, baby or partner)
    • moving house
    • the loss of a family member or pet can have a dramatic impact on behaviour.
  3. Any medical or degenerative changes associated with ageing may cause the pet to be even more sensitive to these environmental changes.
  4. Learning also plays a part in many behavioural problems. This can include:
    • early training and socialisation, which is essential for a happy, well-adjusted pet.
    • punishment of behavioural problems, which often worsens the situation; positive reinforcement of good behaviour is a much more powerful tool.

At Sydney Animal Hospitals we believe it is very important that professional advice is obtained as soon as the problem appears to effectively resolve it. Positive reinforcement is the preferred method for changing behaviour. However, this also needs to be used carefully as it can encourage undesirable behaviour if used incorrectly.

How are behavioural problems treated?

There is no simple cure for any behavioural problem, so be careful when taking 'helpful' advice. Sometimes pet owners with a destructive dog are often given the advice to get another dog to fix the problem. However, they may end up with double trouble.

It is very important that the cause of the problem is addressed, not just the symptoms of the problem. For example, don't chain a dog up because it is digging; find out the reason for the digging and treat the dog accordingly.

When it comes to your pet's behaviour, it is extremely important to seek the right advice and our Sydney Animal Hospitals veterinarians are qualified to assist you with pet behaviour problems but can also provide the services of an animal behaviour specialist.

If you are serious about changing your pet's problem behaviour, here are some tips to get the best outcome:

  • Get commitment on behalf of the whole family, as everyone your pet interacts with will be responsible for encouraging desirable behaviour.
  • For some problems such as barking, escaping, aggression or separation anxiety it is beneficial to see the pet in its natural environment, thus a home visit may be appropriate.
  • Some cases may also require medication.
  • New training techniques.

For this and other behavioural problems, call us at Sydney Animal Hospitals to make an appointment with one of our skilled veterinarians.

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