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If, after reading through the common behavior problems and situations below, you have additional questions about your pet’s behavior, please call to speak to an MD SPCA behavior expert at 410-235-8826, ext. 151 or email trainer@mdspca.org. Our behavior experts are available to pet owners to help work with them on animal behavior problems. Correcting behavior issues improves the relationship between owners and animals to ensure the animal stays in that loving home.

Behavior Library

Cat vs. Cat: Adding a New Cat to Your Family

Cats have a reputation for being anti-social loners, but is that really deserved?  The fact is that they not only need time with their human families, but they are perfectly capable of – sometimes even crave – having buddies of their own species.  The trick is giving them time to adjust to anything that wasn’t their choice.  A major key in this is making sure each cat has adequate access to their important resources.  

Of course the easiest way to ensure your cats can tolerate each other is to give them plenty of space in the beginning...

New Dog on the Block: Adding a New Dog to Your Family

So you’ve decided to add to your family. You’ve talked about any extra financial burden, and how you’ll stretch your time, and you know there’s enough love in your heart for another dog. Of course, you didn’t clear this with your current pup, but she loves other dogs... doesn’t she? Maybe, but remember that meeting someone out at a park and going for a walk is very different than having them move into your bedroom.

School Daze: Finding a Trainer

You want to do the right thing and take your pup to school, but there are so many classes out there; which one do you pick?  How can you tell when you’ve selected the right teacher, or if your dog trainer is even qualified?  While technically someone who has earned the title of “Animal Behaviorist” has an advanced degree in animal behavior, it’s a sad truth that the dog training industry isn’t currently regulated at all...

Happy on the Inside: Indoor Cats

Indoor cats have a lifespan that is 4 - 6 times greater than a cat who goes outdoor (studies show indoor cats can live twenty years or longer, while outdoor cats rarely live past five years.)  In addition, they aren’t exposed to disease, won’t fall victim to predatory animals (or humans), can’t get stuck in traps, be hit by cars, get lost, be stolen, or suffer frostbite or heat stroke...

Household Destruction

Shredded couches, frayed rugs, and scarred coffee tables.  They’re in the nightmares of every cat owner, but they don’t have to be.  Don’t get me wrong – your cat needs to scratch things.  It’s a stress relief for them, and the stretching action can even prevent arthritis as they age; however there are ways to allow – even encourage – the benefits of scratching without sacrificing your home...

Having a Crate Time: Crate Training

At some point, you’ll have to be apart from your best friend, but as a dog-owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your pup safe even when you aren’t there to supervise his every decision.  For some dogs, free roam of the house is safe.  Most days you’ll come home to some extra fur on the couch, and your bedsheets will be ruffled, but other than that, little damage is done.  But for many dogs, some extra boundaries are needed to keep them (and your belongings) safe...

Don’t Touch My Food!

If your dog has been labeled as having a bad habit that animal behaviorists call Food/Resource Guarding, please know that it’s not an alarming issue, but it does need careful management. The program is simple—teach your dog that people approaching the food bowl is a good thing!

Potty Time: Housebreaking

When we think about bringing a new dog into our home, we think of a lot of things – snuggles and belly rubs, long adventuresome hikes, silly tricks that amaze our friends…  Somehow in that idyllic daydream, we always seem to forget about bathroom habits.  Face it, almost any new dog that comes into your home will have to be re-trained to eliminate in the appropriate way, as she learns to adjust to your family’s schedule, and learns to tell you how she needs to go outside...

Night Crawlers: Night-time Activity

It’s always frustrating when the sweet, sleepy snuggle bug cat we love during the day turns into a whirling dervish at night, but the fact is, it’s feline nature.  Cats are nocturnal, which means their bodies tell them to wake up and get to work just as we start to wind down ourselves.  It can make for a difficult roommate situation, and at two in the morning you might be less-likely to remember the affectionate purrs, the playful games of chance, the enthusiastic “biscuit making” or the loving head-bumps quite as fondly as you would at high noon.  With just a little manipulation, you can get your cat adjusted to your routine, and you’ll both reap the benefits of a healthy relationship and a good night’s sleep...