It can be difficult to train or deal with behavioural problems with our pets. These are our top tips to get you started when you are in a behaviour dilemma!

      • Reward good behaviour! All training that you do should be positive, they will respond better to this and it makes it more fun for everyone involved. This can be with treats, petting or toys – it must be something they really like so that they want to do the good behaviour more often.


      • Ignore bad behaviour. This can be very difficult, but by giving no attention for bad behaviour and rewarding good behaviour the animal learns that there is no point in them doing the bad behaviour as it gains them nothing. If you punish bad behaviour this can cause them to do it more often – some dogs especially will do anything for attention, whether that is good or bad. For example if you want to stop your dog jumping up at people you can ignore it when they jump up but then ask them to sit and reward the sit, this way your dog will learn that when people come in then they should sit to be rewarded.


      • Crate training. This is a very useful thing to do with dogs, especially if they are left at home alone. This creates a safe space for the dog that is just for them. However, never shut them in there as a form of punishment – this is ruining its intended purpose and they won’t want to go in there in future. Make sure that they can access it all the time and that there is some food and water in there as well as a comfy bed. When you leave the house, simply shut the crate door and the dog will likely be much happier in there than if left in the house alone normally. If your dog does have separation anxiety issues then try leaving them with something to do – for example, some peanut butter in a kong or a treat ball to keep them entertained for longer whilst you are out. If separation anxiety is a problem with your dog then ring us and we will fit you in to speak to a vet for some more ideas specific to your situation.


      • Dog training or socialisation classes. They don’t need to be a puppy to do this one! Being able to socialise with other dogs is a very important skill for our furry friends. If they are well socialised it makes walks much less stressful (for both you and your dog!) and more enjoyable for them. This is easier to start as a puppy but can be done with older dogs. This also helps you to have a better bond between the two of you.


      • High value treats. When training a dog or cat, it is important to use a treat that they really want. These are often small pieces of meat and this really helps to focus their attention and behave well or do the thing asked of them. Be careful that you use very small pieces and not too many as these can be high in calories and you wouldn’t want them to become overweight.


      • Toilet training. With dogs, make sure they have lots of opportunity to go outside. Once an hour go outside with them and if they go to the toilet praise them! If they have an accident inside do not punish them. You can use puppy pads but take care with these, it can make the dog think it is acceptable to go to the toilet indoors.For cats, provide several litter trays around the house. Place these away from food and water and somewhere more private (cats are quite shy about their business!). Keep the litter consistent so that they know that is where they are supposed to go. Praise them when they toilet in the litter tray and again, do not punish them if they toilet elsewhere! In fact if they do like to pee in a certain place you can always move the litter tray to that place to encourage them to use it.


    • Plenty of exercise. This is good for both behavioural problems and keeping them fit and healthy. Obviously this should only be what your pet can manage and if you would like specific advice for your pet then by all means book an appointment and chat to one of our vets or nurses about it. Ideally this exercise should be plenty and consistent throughout the week. A tired dog is a happy dog! This should help get rid of any excess energy and make them calmer and less destructive at home.Cats can also benefit from exercise but this is usually in the form of play (unless they go outdoors). Using string or other toys your cat can be much more active. This can make them happier and less destructive as they can perform their natural hunting behaviours.

If your pet has any behavioural issues, please pop in and talk to one of our vets – there’s a lot we can do to help, and we can refer you to an expert clinical behaviourist if needed.