Some people endure a lot of unpleasant pet behavior, while others just give up and dump pets at shelters or on the street. But all that is unnecessary. Instead of treating pets badly, abandoning pets, it’s a much better solution for all when pet owners make-good on the fun, pet-ownership originally intended.
A few lucky shelter animals get adopted, but many are euthanized (killed by injection) in over-populated shelters. Of the approximate 8 million pets that end up in shelters, about half are euthanized, according to the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) report on November 29, 2009. Abandoned pets usually die quickly by starvation or by becoming dinner for a wild animal.
Following a few simple tips can bring years of joy to pet and owner, instead of such tragedy:
To Spay and Neuter or Not?
The answer is easy: Do it! Females are spade and males are neutered, in relatively safe surgeries that leave them sterile, or unable to make more puppies and kittens. Dogs and cats that have had this surgery are generally calmer, don’t urinate in a territorial manner as often, and are not as destructive as pets that have not been spayed or neutered. Many veterinarians and shelters offer deep discount or even free spay and neuter clinics to make the service accessible to all.
The Animal Rescue League (ARL) reported sobering statistics on March 26, 2010: A cat can produce three litters of kittens every year, with up to six kittens each time. A dog can produce two litters of pups every year, with between four to twelve pups each time, depending on the size of the parent dogs.
In theory, a dog plus its offspring may produce over 50,000 pups in just six years. In theory, a cat plus its offspring may produce over 900,000 kittens in six years.
Barking Dogs – Shhhh
Barking dogs are a common pet owner issue. Many people instinctively shout, “No!” or “Shut Up!” But there is a problem with that in a dog’s mind. The dog thinks the owner is simply joining in and barking with it. Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Education offers these tips:
Speak to the dog. Don’t yell. Everyone in the house needs to use the same verbal command to let the dog know what it needs to do. The commands, “No” and “Stop” are okay, as long as they are spoken in a regular voice tone.
Be consistent. Use the same command every time the dog barks, and don’t give the dog treats or do anything to give the dog an impression that it is okay to bark. Mixed messages will never solve the problem. If the barking is really bad, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a dog trainer. Some pet stores offer discounted classes in many behavior modification issues for dogs. In addition, aside from commanding them, it is also important to give them proper care, treatment and protection. As such, you must consider a lot of things to ensure their safety like knowing how to protect dog paws from hot pavement.
Cat-Proofing for Safety
Cats cannot be disciplined the same way as dogs. Their brains work very differently. Dogs naturally form a ‘top dog’ attitude with their owner as that ‘top.’ Cats only socialize if necessary. Physical punishment never works for either dogs or cats, because it only teaches the pet to fear. Cat Fanciers magazine shares many tips for easier life with cats:
Most cats hate to get wet, so consistently spraying a water bottle at the cats when they behave badly, like when jumping on the kitchen countertop, and will help. However, be warned cats only behave while the owner is in the room, so wash down those kitchen top areas when the cat’s loose in the house and you’ve been out of sight.
The best behavior modification tactic with cats is to use the same measures used in childproofing a home for a two year old. If the item is not accessible, the cats won’t get into it. Get childproofing accessories at any discount department store or baby store. Some home improvement centers also sell childproofing gadgets and they are usually under $12.00. Any childproofing hint that works for little children, also works for cats: Making sure cabinets and bookshelves are stable, keeping sharps, toxic plants, household cleaners, and breakables out of reach, and keeping kitchen countertops clear of tempting foods or sealing them in unbreakable containers.
The Bottom Line
Pet ownership is a responsibility like child-rearing, and it doesn’t just come naturally. There are many considerations to keep life fun and easy for you and your pets. Refer to the expert pet advice resource links in this article text for more information on these and other specific pet concerns.