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Q&A

Dean Hart answers your questions Dean Hart is a Clinical Behaviourist and Tutor at the Canine Studies College and specialises in helping mature students set up and develop their own business within the canine industry. Visit www.thedoghut.biz Bertie, my young dog keeps jumping up for attention. I push him off and can be quite stern, telling him ‘No’ but this doesn’t stop him. What can I do? Bless him, or we can use other words on a bad day, given that attention seeking can become very annoying. Unfortunately, dogs usually love being touched, looked at and being spoken too, no matter how cross the tone is. If Bertie is desperate for your attention, pushing him down, staring at him and telling him off means he has succeeded! His behaviour has been inadvertently reinforced, oops! Many dogs understand hand pushing on the shoulder (or paw) is an invitation to play. Bertie is young, so probably loves it. Your retraining needs to focus on teaching him a new command that shows him his behaviour is not going to succeed, without making him frustrated. Simply ignor‐ ing a pushy attention seeking dog does not work, so you need a plan. After he has learned your new command, use it in a calm, friendly way to discourage any attention seeking from him, make sure you look away and do not interact with him. It is important he has learned what the command means before you apply the command. If possible, ask somebody to call him away immediately you have said the new command and have been ignoring him, this should help reinforce your message. You do still need to give Bertie plenty of attention, bless him, so continue to talk to Bertie when he is relaxed, invite him to play several times during the day and end this on your terms. When all is calm (hopefully), provide gentle petting for him. This praises all non‐attention seeking behaviour and should start to shape more appropriate behaviour. Allow Bertie plenty of time to adjust and do not rush. Ask your local trainer or behaviourist how to teach a ‘no attention’ command that best meets Bertie’s and your needs.

Q.

Q.

My lovely bitch, Taluka has recently had a season. Afterwards she has completely changed in personality. She seems depressed, moves about a lot without resting, seems irritable, especially over her bed area and food and keeps hiding. I am worried she is anxious and upset, what should I do?

Q.

It is worrying whenever your pet seems unhappy or ill, initially I would advise you have a chat with your vet just to make sure there is no clinical problem causing these changes in Taluka. You don’t mention how long ago she was in season, so I am assuming very recently? If this is the case, then her behaviour could certainly be linked with hormonal changes. Prolactin is a hormone responsible for aggressive behaviour and rises after a season and during phantom pregnancies. The behaviours you have described are similar and expected within maternal aggression caused by a change in prolactin levels. A bitch may start to become quite fierce and guard her bed, bedding, other objects like toys, food and herself when approached. This aggression can fluctuate with the hormone levels during the daytime and therefore episodes of aggression or triggers can be difficult to predict or identify. Taluka may not show any other signs linked with pregnancy, so the behaviour may seem much more distressing and difficult to understand. A simple hormone check with your vet may determine if this is the case and they can recommend the most appropriate treatment. In the meantime, provide Taluka with a quiet, warm and cosy resting place within a calm and peaceful environment.

My cat keeps scratching my sofa, which is getting ruined, why does she do this and is this something I can stop?

Unfortunately your sofa sounds an ideal place and surface to provide opportunity for her to sharpen her claws. These surfaces catch the back of her nail and then as she pulls away. This releases old pieces, promoting new growth, perfect! Some scratching posts don’t allow this, as they provide the wrong surface. Position a hessian scratch post in front of key areas to encourage her to use these and not your furniture. Other materials that may work well are thick blankets or thick, heavy material. Choose patterns with vertical stripes as these tend to attract cats. Remember that cats mark their territories, stretch their muscles using nails and easily learn how to get your attention, so make sure you praise her for using the cat‐scratch‐post and do not give her any attention if she scratches any furniture. Cats love soft wood, so if your sofa has this, then rub down and varnish with several layers until hard, this should put your cat off! In addition to this she probably doesn’t like the small of citronella, so explore products that you could spray on your furnishing without damage.

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Rescue and Animal Care Magazine 29th January - 29th February 2020 - Issue 151  

Hello Readers, It will not be long until Spring and I for one cannot wait! This is when my new year starts with plans and resolutions. Getti...

Rescue and Animal Care Magazine 29th January - 29th February 2020 - Issue 151  

Hello Readers, It will not be long until Spring and I for one cannot wait! This is when my new year starts with plans and resolutions. Getti...

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