Pawfect behaviour: Pet parents’ most frequently asked questions – Sydney Morning Herald

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“But sometimes they could have had nausea when they were young and have paired that feeling of nausea with travel and they’re now afraid of the feeling.”

If it’s nervousness that’s troubling your dog, Dr Lindsey suggests getting them to lay low in the foot-well and give them something to chew, which distracts them from their stress and also makes car travel a rewarding experience.

“A bit like we use a pacifier for babies, we use food-filled toys for dogs,” she explains.

“You can also try ‘safe place training’, where you have a crate in your home that you teach them is a safe space and helps them feel calm, then you put them in the crate in the car.”

Some dogs genuinely get motion sickness, though, so speak to your vet about medication that might help.

Should I reward good behaviour?

Short answer from the experts is: yes.

“Reward any behaviour you want to see more of as consistently as possible,” Dr Lindsey says.

“Give them verbal praise or pats or food – if you just focus all of your efforts on telling your dog what they’re doing that’s right, their behavioural problems will resolve.”

How can I stop my cat “marking” in the house?

Firstly, check their litter tray is clean and accessible.

“You should have multiple litter trays so the cat has the opportunity to go in different places,” Currie says, adding that while many people put them in the laundry, noisy washing machines can give cats a fright, so putting it somewhere quieter could help.

“Some cats like bigger trays – even a storage box that is bigger and deeper to allow them to turn around, walk through and dig like they would outside. Try changing the litter up – a clay-based litter is the one that’s most similar to sand and dirt.”

If the marking is in one particular location, the most important thing is that you clean it up properly, says Dr Lindsey.

“It’s an intensive process – first use highly absorbent paper towels, then a product with enzymes to break down the protein content,” she explains.

“Repeat that process and spray with a surgical spirit to break down the fat content of the urine. If you don’t get rid of the urine mark properly, your cat will continue to identify that as a marking location.”

Anxiety can also lead to marking, so be wary of other cats in the house or neighbourhood who could be stressing yours out.

My dog is nervous around visitors: what should I do?

Give them a treat away from visitors and ask your guests to ignore them.

“Allow your dog to warm to them in their own time,” Currie suggests.

“Prepare a Kong or a toilet roll with peanut butter in it so you’re building positive associations with people that are coming to the house.”

My cat doesn’t want to socialise with me. Is there anything I can do?

It’s possible to train cats too.

It’s possible to train cats too.Credit: Getty.

Make sure they are feeling well and getting plenty of alone time.

“Sometimes they don’t want to socialise because they are sore – 80 per cent of cats over the age of 10 will have arthritis,” Dr Lindsey points out.

Ruling that out, the harder you try to snuggle with your cat, the more likely they are to resist, so try to go easy on them.

“Cats do like privacy, so have some dedicated me-time for them. It might be putting them in the bedroom for a couple of hours,” Currie says.

“We can also train our cats. There’s lots of fun tricks you can do with them to get your cat engaged with you and start to build a bit of a relationship. I think we need to learn to love the cat that is in front of us and learn what kind of interactions they want from us.”

My dog hates storms. Is there any way to calm him down?

If your dog is in a state of panic with pupils dilated, excessive panting, drooling, yawning and hiding, speak to your vet.

“There are some dogs who are a little worried and some who display excessive destructive behaviour or escaping – if your dog falls into that category, you need to get help,” Currie says.

But if it’s more low-level anxiety, try to distract them or create a safe place for them to hide out.

“Bring them inside, close the curtains to block out the lightning flashes and put on some music or TV to block out the sound of the rain,” Currie suggests.

Like most dog situations, food usually helps too.

“Bring out your high motivation foods, like grated cheese and ham and yoghurt – give them something else to do that helps keep them calm and takes their mind off things,” suggests Dr Lindsey.

“Dogs can’t multi-task so if they are chewing or using a snuffle mat to find their favourite foods, they’re not going to be able to simultaneously worry about the scary sounds that are coming from outside.”

For a longer-term approach, you could try a nutritional supplement that helps to keep your dog calm – just remember, there is no quick fix for anxiety so you will need to be consistent.

Learn more tips and tricks on supporting your pet’s mental wellbeing, from PAW by Blackmores®.

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