Should We Ignore Bad Behavior?
This question is actually a bit harder to answer than you'd think. There are dog trainers that fall on either side of this issue. Some say "ignore the dog," and others say "more training." If you look carefully at ignoring, you'll see that it doesn't always work.
We've all heard that we should reward good behavior and ignore bad actions. The first component makes sense because, of course, rewarding a behavior increases the likelihood that it will be repeated. However, the problem with ignoring the bad behaviors is two-fold. First, bad behaviors can be self-rewarding. Secondly, there may be other people around your pets that are inadvertently rewarding their bad behaviors.
Here are examples of both... If your dog is a counter-surfer, we'll bet that this behavior is occasionally rewarded - meaning once in a while when he checks out the countertop, he can grab a tasty morsel up there. When he jumps up and gets food, he thinks he did something right; after all, he got a treat for doing it!
If you decide to ignore your dog's jumping behavior when it happens, fine - but are your kids or your neighbor going to follow through? Oodles of people think it's cute when a dog jumps up, so they pet him, which of course, is a reward. Ignoring bad behavior is not always a practical solution.
So, what should you do?
If your dog jumps up when people come into your home, have a small bowl of treats handy and toss some on the floor when someone comes in. Your buddy will probably go for the treats and stop jumping. If your dog is a counter surfer, first and most important, keep food off your countertops when you are not there to watch. If you're cooking and Fido is sniffing the countertop, intervene before he jumps up. Give him a toy or a frozen kong to chew on. You can also block him from the kitchen with a baby gate when things are hectic.
The 3 main ideas here are to manage the environment, change your dog's focus, and teach him what you want him to do in each situation. If you live alone with your dog ignoring bad behavior may work, but it's easier and faster to teach them a new behavior in place of the inappropriate one or divert their attention.
Follow the above advice, and you'll be setting up your pet for success, which will deepen your connection.
How to Pet a Cat
Most cat parents (or cat-petters) have had this experience: your kitty is rubbing against your legs and meowing. She clearly wants to be petted. You start stroking her, and POW, she takes a swipe or nip at you! Is she just grouchy, or could you be petting her the wrong way? Wait... is there a wrong way to pet a cat?
The answer to this question is that it depends on the cat. But if your cat occasionally swipes at you or you're petting a cat that is new to you, learning the right way to pet a cat will help you make a best buddy.
Feline domestication has been more recent than that of our canine friends. A modern house cat's DNA is only slightly different from its wild ancestors. This means that our house cat, in many ways, still thinks like their wild ancestors, who are more solitary, and because of this, they have different social skills than canines. They are social and affectionate, just in a different way than a dog.
Both dogs and cats love to be petted. It makes them feel loved, relaxed, and safe. Here are some basic tips on cat petting.
Space - An important step is to allow the cat to have as much choice and control as possible. Some cats need a bit more space or private time than others. Wait for the cat to come to you to be stroked. Don't hold the cat down; if she feels like leaving, let her leave.
Touch - Keep a light touch when petting a new cat until you learn what they prefer. Don't rub their fur the wrong way; always stroke them from head to tail.
Excitement - Some cats get over-excited when petted (especially a cat that is new to you). So if the cat looks edgy, that may not be the best time for a cuddle.
Locations - Many cats like stroking around their scent glands. This means around their face, on top of their head, under their chin, and at the base of their tail. Most cats love a full-body stroke that starts at their head and ends at the tail base. Cats usually adore petting around their ears, but do it gently. Again, each animal is an individual so pay attention to their body language, so you'll know if they are enjoying it.
Body Language - Learning a bit of cat body language will help you bond with any cat. If she is thumping her tail or swishing it back and forth quickly, growling, or if her pupils are dilated - it's time to back off. Ears flattened against her head are signs of discomfort, as are short bursts of grooming, blinking, or remaining passive when you pet her (no purring or rubbing against you). These are signs that it's time for the cat to get a bit of space. Happy signs are purring, paw kneading, a slowly waving tail, a relaxed posture, and a gentle nudge if you stop.
Belly Rubs - Most dogs love a belly rub; cats not so much (some do - but get to know the cat before you try a belly rub). If you're petting a cat and she rolls over to show her belly, she is not necessarily asking for a belly rub. She is saying she trusts you when she is in this position, but not necessarily that she wants you to scratch her tummy.
Now you're a master at cat petting, so now go find a cat to snuggle with!
More Important Steps For Senior Pets
There are so many things to make our senior pets more comfortable, that we wanted to give you a few more ideas this month.
Senior pets don't regulate their body temperature as well as they did when younger; be sure that your cat or dog has some warm places to snooze. You may want to offer him a spot in the sun or near a heat register in cooler weather. Fido may even need a sweater in cool weather to be toasty enough.
Due to sore joints and decreased mobility, senior cats and dogs often can't groom themselves as well as they used to. So, be sure to help them with more frequent brushing and bathing. Grooming is the best time to feel your pet for unusual lumps, bumps, irritations, or scrapes.
Check regularly for signs of dental disease, which can lead to health issues, including infection, heart disease, and a sore mouth - making it more difficult for your pet to eat.
Elevated food dishes may ease discomfort if your buddy has a bit of trouble bending down.
If your pet is losing some of his hearing, you may want to start teaching him sign language so he can understand you better.
Make sure you visit your vet at least once a year for lab tests to monitor how your senior friend is doing. If your pet is having mobility problems, ask your vet about medications and supplements. It's a good idea to record your pet's weight every month, so you'll know if he is losing weight and if so, report it to your vet. Ask your vet to trim your pet's nails since he may not be exercising as often to wear them down.
Again we want to emphasize that you should continue to exercise and play with your pet; it's actually good for their mobility to keep moving. Just don't overdo it!
After a fun playtime or walk, snuggle up with your buddy and show him some love!
Great Pet Links!
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