Is your pet struggling to cope with modern life?

 

Cats and dogs can react to stressful situations in a variety of different ways. Sometimes they are very noticeable, others may be less so, when perhaps you would say to others "they don't look themselves".

 

Signs that may indicate that your pet isn’t coping include:

 

Sleep disturbances

Altered social interactions

Changed posture

Inappropriate elimination

Withdrawal

behaviours

Weight

change

Excessive

vocalisation

The behaviours listed here may also be a sign of a medical condition, therefore it would be wise to discuss these changes with your dog’s veterinary surgeon, who will be able to advise you as to the appropriate course of action.

 

What else can you do to help?

 

Facing stressful situations can also lead to the development of unwanted behaviours. According to a recent report by the PDSA*, 66% of dog owners and 62% of cat owners reported that they would like to change at least one behaviour shown by their pet. This change in behaviour is the point at which we should take notice to help pets overcome their uneasy feelings.

Recommendations for dogs

Start

  • Teaching appropriate behavioural responses such as toileting in appropriate places, by encouraging and praising the behaviour when the dog/puppy toilets in the desired area and IGNORING the behaviour when the animal toilets in an inappropriate place.
  • Using more hand signals and fewer words to improve communication cues.
  • Creating a safe resting place, somewhere where they will not be disturbed by incoming and outgoing visitors into your home.

 

Stop

  • All kinds of punishment.
  • Reinforcing your dog's behaviour e.g. initiating cuddling or stroking the dog when it is shaking and nervous, although if they come to you for comfort first you should give them gentle attention.
  • Signals that trigger responses to difficult situations such as tugging the lead on meeting other dogs. Giving involuntary warning signs, such as pulling on the lead when you see another dog, alerts your dog that there may be a problem.
  • Reacting yourself – stay calm, your behavioural response may transfer to your dog as they are easily influenced by your emotions


Recommendations for Cats

Start

Environmental enrichments – these are activities which aim to give cats a more diverse interest in their everyday lives such as:

  • Encouraging play and interaction with toys. Engage cats with ‘chase–and–pounce’ type games or mobiles which move and reflect light.
  • Different ways of feeding which replicate their natural instinctive behaviour.
  • Providing multiple feeding places.
  • Thinking in 3D – cats use different levels in the house.
  • Using feeding regimes that replicate hunting.
  • Hiding small amounts of food.
  • Small frequent meals are better than one or two.

 

Stop

  • Punishment of any kind.
  • Forced contact; this applies to human and other animals, cats notably prefer contact to be little and often and on their terms.
  • Reacting yourself – stay calm, your behavioural response may transfer to your cat as they are easily influenced by your emotions.