Bad behavior is the most common reason dogs are surrendered by owners to other homes or shelters or sometimes abused or euthanized, according to the California Veterinary Medical Association.
And owners sometimes seek advice without knowing that a veterinarian could help, and they’re unaware there are board-certified veterinary behaviorists trained to remedy such problems.
“We urge pet owners to see a veterinarian first when bad behavior surfaces because a veterinarian can determine whether a medical problem is contributing to the behavior problem,” says CVMA President Ron Faoro, DVM. “Veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions and recommend proper treatment.”
Melissa Bain, DVM, of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Hospital, is one of California’s six board-certified veterinary behaviorists. She says early intervention is key for a dog owner when it comes to preventing a pet’s behavior problems.
“Puppies need to be socialized and trained at an early age. After 14 weeks, socialization becomes more difficult,” she says.
She adds that pet owners should live up to their responsibilities as well by:
- Selecting the right breed for the family’s lifestyle and environment.
- Not confining pets to small places.
- Avoiding rewarding anxious behaviors and instead reinforcing good and relaxed behaviors.
- Helping dogs not to be anxious when alone by using a dog sitter or doggie day care.
- Allowing dogs to view the world through a bright window.
- Sheltering dogs from extreme heat and cold.
- Being mindful of a dog’s behavior after a move or the absence of a dog’s favorite family member.