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BEHAVIOR

is easiest to teach the pet to jump into the container on the ground first, then place it on the scale for him to climb into.You could also desensitize him to the motion of being lifted in the container and placed on the scale, but this does require more work than simply changing the container’s location.

Crate Training

Crate training for transport can significantly reduce your pet’s stress when he needs to travel. Unfortunately, travel is unlikely to be stress-free, but training an animal to go into a crate voluntarily can still have a positive impact. Utilizing a towel or something else the animal can grip onto is likely to be helpful here as well. You can also line the bottom of the crate with whatever bedding your pet has in his cage as something familiar may help him feel more secure. It will depend on the crate type how exactly to train the behavior to go into the crate. For some small mammals, teaching them to hop into the tray and then adding the top is the easiest route. For others, particularly larger pets, you may have to train them to enter the crate and accept the door closing. For the typical cat carrier-type kennels, I always reward from the side. This results in the animal automatically focusing on the side of the kennel once he is inside, rather than on the door opening and closing. The main reason for this is so the animal is not reaching for the hand that is closing the door when you are desensitizing him to having the door shut. Lastly, I always train an animal to exit the crate by target. This helps to mitigate “self-releasing,” and prevents the door opening from becoming the cue to exit the crate.

An easy behavior such as targeting can help an animal regroup and calm down in a stressful or unfamiliar situation

Crate training in advance can help reduce an animal’s stress levels when he has to be transported to the vet

Oral Medication

Conditioning your pet to take oral medication is simpler than it sounds. The most difficult part is actually finding a reinforcer that can be delivered through a 1cc syringe. The easiest way to go about training this behavior is to offer your pet the reinforcer in the syringe. For apprehensive pets, reward for sniffing the syringe.You can also dip the syringe in the reinforcer, allowing the pet to lick it off. Only dispense the treat once your pet is mouthing the syringe entirely. If your pet is wary, an accidental squirt in the nose is the last thing you want. Gradually increase the amount of reinforcer in the syringe to work up to taking the desired amount. I always dispense more than needed because I add a little of the reinforcer to the medication. Once the animal is taking the amount needed, desensitize him to taking the food quickly. Gradually increase the speed with which you are dispensing the reinforcer. As you do so, also push the syringe into the animal’s mouth slightly. He will learn that this is the way the reinforcer is presented. This helps prevent him backing off once he tastes the medication (if he does not like it) resulting in a half dose and, ultimately, you having to catch him to force feed the rest. Finally, to help the pet learn that taking what is in the syringe is a reinforceable behavior, I typically train him to take water from the syringe. That way, he does not balk or refuse if he cannot smell the reinforcer. When actually giving medication, I give several “fakes” throughout the day. There is no getting around unpleasant tasting medications. To prevent the animal from simply 52

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

When training an animal to accept an injection, it is best to practice many times without actually injecting

BARKS from the Guild March 2017  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...

BARKS from the Guild March 2017  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...