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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 [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


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!

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...

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!

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...

Caring for Convalescing Dogs

After certain medical procedures, your vet will recommend your dog stays on crate rest and/or reduced exercise to allow them to heal. In many cases, your dog will feel (and act) ready to get back in the swing of things well before it is safe to do so. The following tips will help keep your dog’s brain busy—and therefore tire them out—until they are vet-approved for regular exercise. Don’t forget that convalescing dogs might need much more sleep than before—even 16 or 18 hours.

Why Train with Food?

  1. Most dogs love food. This makes it an excellent training reward.
  2. Food is easy to carry and very convenient.
  3. There is a huge variety. This makes it easy to adjust the value of the reward based on level of difficulty. Coming when called mid–squirrel chase needs a higher reward—steak or chicken—than sitting on cue in the living room.
  4. Food makes dogs happy. Using food to train results in dogs who happily anticipate the next training session.
  5. Food can be used to change a dog’s emotional response from fear to joy using a technique called counter-conditioning.

Top Ten Dog Behavior Myths

#1: Dogs are naturally pack animals with a clear social order.

This one falls apart immediately upon scrutiny, because all the evidence suggests that free-ranging dogs (pariahs, feral and semi-feral populations) don’t form packs. Dogs actually form loose, amorphous, transitory associations with other dogs.

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...