Skip to main content

Pet Behavior Problems

By June 28, 2011March 19th, 2024Pet Behavior

The dog won’t listen…
That?s what obedience classes are for. Most of the ?chain? pet stores (Petco/Petsmart/Especially for Pets) and often the local animal shelters offer obedience classes for a very nominal fee. Our shelter works with and refers dogs/puppies to a local trainer – Patty?Bolack – Certified Dog Trainer at

There is no such thing as a dog that cannot be trained to be a well-behaved member of the household. Most canines thrive when given basic obedience training. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be a ?help? to humans, therefore, it?s only a matter of a few hours of your time and a little money before your dog is the ?good dog? you?ve always wished for. Please give your dog the benefit of the doubt and take them through a basic obedience class before you give up on them.

We can’t house train the dog
This is a poor excuse for giving up a dog. A dog can certainly be house trained. First, consider crate training. There are numerous books and articles on the subject. This is not ?mean? to the dog, as they are den animals by nature. Then consider the dog. If you are having a problem with urination maybe you are giving your dog free access to water at the wrong times or too much water.

Are you paying attention to the ?timing? of accidents? If your dog drinks a cup of water, then urinates in the house 30 minutes later, begin taking the dog out after watering. Also remember, dogs have a much more acute sense of smell than we humans. Perhaps you haven?t gotten the doggie ?scent? out of the floor or carpet. All pet stores sell special odor killers that, used properly, are both safe and effective. If you have questions about house training or crate training contact a trainer or rescue in your area. They will be happy to help you through.

Our shelter sells crates. Plus we have all the literature and details on how to properly housebreak your canine!

The dogs chew on everything
All dogs chew. Whether they chew on the appropriate item is up to you. A puppy must chew (as any baby cutting teeth must). It is up to you to provide the appropriate item for that chewing. Your vet and our shelter adoption counselors can recommend the best type of chew items for your pup. An older dog can be trained to chew on the proper items as well. Again, you must provide these items for your dog. Finally, crate train your dog. If you allow the dog ?free reign? of your home without supervision you are asking for trouble. Most dogs are safer in a crate when you are not at home.
Our shelter sells crates and we have all the literature and details on how to properly keep your canine from chewing up your home!

We’re moving and can’t have a dog
There is housing in virtually every city and town in the United States that will allow dogs. Before you?re so sure you can?t find affordable housing that will accept pets please look in the local newspaper, or speak with an apartment broker in the area. When taking this dog into your life, you made a commitment that you would love and provide for it the rest of its life. Would you be so quick to move into housing that would not take your children? Then why are you so quick to move where you can not take your dog?
Click here for 13 Steps to Finding Pet-Friendly Rental Housing
Apartment Locators – help you find housing with your pets in any state

Nobody takes care of the dog and he isn’t getting enough exercise – The dog is alone too much..

You have our sympathy. This often happens in households where all members are not committed to the upkeep of an animal. No one wants all of the responsibility. However, this is hardly the dog?s fault, and a very poor reason to have a dog destroyed. Make no mistake-if you take the dog to a shelter, it will probably be euthanized for the unpardonable sin of being a member of the wrong family. You will be killing the dog because you no longer want the responsibility. Make sure this is the kind of person you want to be and the example you want to set for the rest of your family.

We all want to spend as much time with our animals as we can. Personally we’d like to spend all day with mine, but that?s not possible (somebody has to work to buy dog food). Many dog owners leave their animals for 8 to 10 hours while they?re working or at school. While this is not the best of all worlds, it certainly is better than destroying the dog and frankly, is that really the problem? Is it that you feel bad for the dog or you don?t want to spend your limited amount of ?free? time taking care of it? As mentioned before, you made a commitment to this animal. Now you?re too busy for them? Please rethink what you are considering. Do you want the dog destroyed because you just ?don?t have the time”?

Consider asking your local shelter/veterinarian or check the yellow pages for Doggie Daycares in your area! They are generally inexpensive and offer the stimulation your dog/puppy needs to tire him out!

The pet growled/snapped/bit..
This is a tough one. Whether the dog is actually aggressive or not is a judgment call that you, and only you, can make. We first recommend taking your pet to your veterinarian for a full physical examination and possibly having blood/urine/lab work run. OFTEN times there can be an unlying medical problem with an animal that causes these behaviors…your pet could be in pain and you have no idea because he’she isn’t acting sick….
Next, did the dog growl or snap without being provoked? Were you attempting to take something from the dog? Did this happen when food was involved? Was the dog protecting itself from unintended abuse by a child? Many dogs will “snap” to defend their space, or if they feel attacked or pressured. Dogs will react the only way they know how. If the growling and snapping is ongoing, then the dog should be taken to a behavioral therapist (trainer). The trainers will try to teach the dog to react differently to a variety of situations. Snapping is a control response. In most cases, you have to look at root cause. Ok – the dog snapped. Was it because I was playing to aggressively? Was I moving the food bowl during feeding? Many times, it is our fault, but we still want to blame the dog because we as humans do not like to be in the wrong. Bottom line is growling, snapping, and biting can all be corrected. The question is are you willing to take the amount of time needed for the correction. Make a good choice. IF your pet has bitten…please read this.

We highly recommend consulting with a BEHAVIORIST who can deal with such problems and issues. Behaviorist are veterinarians that also extensive knowledge on behavior problems. They are also able to dispense medications should your pet need….Animal behaviorists study the way animals behave and try to determine what causes certain types of behavior?and what factors can prompt behavior change. They usually specialize in certain types of animals, whether it’s fish, birds, large animals, wild animals, livestock or household pets. To learn more about animal behaviorist click here?and to find a behaviorist in your area click here

We also recommend consulting with the Boston Animal Rescue League’s Center for Shelter Dogs – as they have an entire behavior department specifically dedicated to working with pets needing behavior consults/training.

We have allergies and the Doctor recommended getting rid of the pets!

Hypoallergenic Animals – many “breeders” and petstores WANT to sell you a puppy/kitten and “CLAIM” they are hypoallergenic….?Do not believe them! There is no such animal. ?

Educate yourself about the MYTH of “hypoallergenic animals”

Learn more about?Allerpet

Coping with Allergies to Pets…Being a pet owner is never easy. While pets bring us joy and companionship on a daily basis, they also require training, veterinary care, time, love, attention, and even tolerance. Tolerance is especially necessary when a pet owner is allergic to his or her companion animal.

Studies show that approximately 15% of the population is allergic to dogs or cats. An estimated one-third of Americans who are allergic to cats (about 2 million people) live with at least one cat in their household anyway. In a study of 341 adults who were allergic to cats or dogs and had been advised by their physicians to give up their pets, only one out of five did. What’s more, 122 of them obtained another pet after a previous one had died. It’s clear the benefits of pet companionship outweigh the drawbacks of pet allergies for many owners. Living comfortably with a companion animal despite being allergic to him requires a good understanding of the allergic condition and an adherence to a few rules.

All cats and dogs are allergenic (allergy-causing) to people who are allergic to animals. Cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs for allergic people, although some people are more sensitive to dogs than cats. Contrary to popular belief, there are no “non-allergenic” breeds of dogs or cats; even hairless breeds may be highly allergenic. Our shelter sells Allerpet C (for cats) and Allerpet D (for dogs)

Dogs with soft, constantly-growing hair?the Poodle or the Bichon Frise, for example?may be less irritating to some individuals, although this may be because they are bathed and groomed more frequently. One dog or cat of a particular breed may be more irritating to an individual allergy sufferer than another animal of that same breed.

The source of irritation to pet-allergic humans? Glands in the animal’s skin secrete tiny allergy-triggering proteins, called allergens, that linger in the animal’s fur but also float easily in the air. Allergens are present in the animal’s saliva and urine, too, and may become airborne when saliva dries on the fur. The severity of reaction to these allergens varies from one person to the next, ranging from mild sniffling and sneezing to life-threatening asthma, and can be complicated by simultaneous allergies to other irritants in the environment.

If your or a family member’s allergies are simply miserable, but not life-threatening, take these steps to reduce the symptoms:

Create an “allergy free” zone in the home?preferably the bedroom?and strictly prohibit the pet’s access to it. Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner (available at almost any home and garden store or discount department store) in the bedroom. Consider using impermeable covers for the mattress and pillows because allergen particles brought into the room on clothes and other objects can accumulate in them.

Use HEPA air cleaners throughout the rest of the home, and avoid dust-and-dander-catching furnishings such as cloth curtains and blinds and carpeted floors. Clean frequently and thoroughly to remove dust and dander, washing articles such as couch covers and pillows, curtains, and pet beds. Use a “microfilter” bag in the vacuum cleaner to effectively catch all the allergens.

Bathing your pet on a weekly basis can reduce the level of allergens on fur by as much as 84%.

Although products are available that claim to reduce pet allergens when sprayed on the animal’s fur, studies show they are less effective than a weekly bath. Even cats can become accustomed to being bathed; check with your veterinarian’s staff or a good book on pet care for directions about how to do this properly, and use whatever shampoo your veterinarian recommends.

Don’t be quick to blame the family pet for allergies. Ask your allergist to specifically test for allergies to pet dander, rather than making an assumption. And understand that allergies are cumulative. Many allergy sufferers are sensitive to more than one allergen. So if you’re allergic to dust, insecticides, pollen, cigarette smoke, and cat dander, you’ll need to reduce the overall allergen level in your environment by concentrating on all of the causes, not just the pet allergy. For example, you may need to step up measures to remove cat dander from your home and carefully avoid cigarette smoke during spring, when it is difficult to avoid exposure to pollen.

Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can improve symptoms but cannot eliminate them entirely. They work by gradually desensitizing a person’s immune system to the pet allergens. Allergy-causing proteins are injected under the person’s skin, triggering the body to produce antibodies (protective proteins) which block the pet allergen from causing a reaction. Patients are usually given one dose per week for a few weeks to months (depending on the severity of the allergy) and then can often manage with one injection per month.

Additional treatments for allergies to pets are symptomatic, including steroidal and antihistamine nose sprays and antihistamine pills. For asthma, there are multiple medications, sprays, and inhalers available. It is important to find an allergist who understands your commitment to living with your pet. A combination of approaches?medical control of symptoms, good housecleaning methods, and immunotherapy?is most likely to succeed in allowing an allergic person to live with pets.

Of course, if you do not currently have a pet and are considering one, and know you are pet-allergic, be sure to consider carefully whether you can live with the allergy before you bring a new pet home. Except in the case of children, who sometimes outgrow allergies, few allergy sufferers become accustomed to pets to whom they are allergic. Too many allergic owners obtain pets without thinking through the difficulties of living with them. And too often, they end up relinquishing pets, a decision that is difficult for the owner and can be life-threatening for the pet.

Study: Early Exposure to Pets May Reduce Allergies – a new study shows that kids who grow up with dogs and cats in the home actually have a significantly reduced risk of developing common indoor and outdoor allergies.