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Adoption fees waived for all cats and kittens during the entire month of July.

Stop by and let us help you find your purr-fect match!

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 [email protected]. 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

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!

Separation Anxiety

Dogs bond strongly to humans. They can learn to be alone for moderate periods but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s not surprising, then, that about one in five dogs show symptoms of separation anxiety when alone: uncontrollable urinating or defecating; destruction of furniture, walls, windows or flooring; self-injury while attempting to escape kennels; vomiting and drooling; or long periods of barking and crying.

Confinement and Crate Training

Owners are often unsure whether they need to crate train their puppies or newly-adopted dogs or whether to simply confine them in a dog-proofed area during the early weeks or months following adoption. Crate training helps with the following:

  • Housetraining: prompts the dog to hold bladder and bowels when unsupervised
  • Chew-training: prevents the dog from chewing furniture, walls and anything else except the chew toys he is crated with so good habits automatically form
  • Settling down: patterns dog to be inactive when alone
  • Preparation for possible close confinement: dogs that are used to crates are less likely to be stressed when caged during a hospital stay or travel

Exercises to Reduce Jumping Up

Pre-train a solid sit behavior using food rewards until the dog will sit when you ask him to every time. Then, whenever you come home and greet the dog, ask for a sit. If he jumps up, immediately go back outside, closing the door behind you. Now, being greeted by you is his reward. Wait a few seconds and try again. After a few tries, most dogs sit. (But it’s trickier because he’s excited, so be patient.) When he does sit, greet him by crouching down so he can lick your face (often a big piece of the motivation to jump up) and, if he does particularly well, give him rewards stashed in your pocket.

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...

Barking

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons:

  • Watchdog Barking serves the dual purpose of alerting pack members that there is an intruder and warning the intruder that they have been noticed.
  • Demand Barking is the dog’s way of communicating to the owner that he would like something NOW. Typical requests are “open the door NOW,” “pay attention to me NOW,” “let me out of here NOW,” “I wanna see that dog NOW” etc.
  • Spooky Barking occurs when the dog is uncomfortable about something in the environment and barks to say “I’m dangerous! Don’t come any closer!”
  • Boredom Barking can result when the dog’s daily needs for exercise and social stimulation are not met. The dog has gone mad from boredom.

Enrichment

Providing dogs with outlets for their natural behaviors is not only enjoyable, but crucial to their well-being. There has been a recent explosion of enrichment product and ideas. And with a little creativity, you can make your own on any budget!

Shy Dogs

Dogs bond strongly to humans. They can learn to be alone for moderate periods but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s not surprising, then, that about one in five dogs show symptoms of separation anxiety when alone: uncontrollable urinating or defecating; destruction of furniture, walls, windows or flooring; self-injury while attempting to escape kennels; vomiting and drooling; or long periods of barking and crying.

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...