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Pet Talk Tuesday – Dr. Kandefer on pet manners

Posted at 6:21 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:21:55-04

Dr. Lucas Kandefer says most of the time we talk about manners with our puppies and dogs but there are other species that have issues too. He says one thing we see with our cats, in particular, especially when they are young is when they are excited start to become mouthy, they are handsy and they do start trying to bite hands very frequently. When they are kittens, it may cute but when they get a little older, they end up finding it can become more of an issue they don’t have inhibition to bite when they are stressed and there are some cats that actually do get play aggregation where they get so wound up, they don’t know how to stop, and it can cause injuries and cat fights can be really severe. Dr. Lucas Kandefer says if we do want to play with them with their hands, get them use to using something like a cat nip or something that tells them this is when we do interact, and this is when we don’t. He says we want them to have some inhibition when we are working with our hands, so they don’t bite us inadvertently and getting so used to doing that, that they end up causing problems and pain with people.

When we talk about other pets there are some issues with birds. Dr. Kandefer says most of the time, it’s their language and usually that’s usually more of a manners problem with the owners than it is with the birds.

With dogs, they commonly see behavioral issues when that always start when they are younger. It can be anything from fear and they can see issues that happen with training in general. He says a lot of time when we talk about manners; we don’t want our dogs jumping up, we don’t want our dogs to rush people when we interact initially. What we are looking for is training. He says really early on it is important to make sure our pets to know they don’t get interaction unless they are doing things appropriately. It’s easy to ignore a dog that sitting there and staring at you and being good. We tend to interact with the dogs that are jumping on us, barking and making all this noise. Dr. Kanderfer says again it is cute when they are puppies, but we end up finding that we end up training them into that. When we say we only interact with you jump on me, when you bite, then the dog realizes this is what I need for attention, so we are very commonly, inadvertently training some of these bad behaviors into our pets. The other things he sees are fear related problems. A lot of dogs have anxiety when they see new things. Two things really help with that says Dr. Kandefer. One is going to be to make sure we are having them socialized early on. We want them to interact with other people and other dogs, so they understand how they are supposed to. It really helps them to learn social cues and what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate and what they should be afraid of and what they shouldn’t.

Secondly, he says, we really want to make sure we have that opportunity to say if they are afraid, we don’t push them. You want to try and use positive reinforcement to help them understand you don’t have to be afraid of this, there is no reason to. A lot time if they are afraid of people Dr. Kandefer talks to all his clients and recommends new people should be walking treat dispensers. They don’t have to go ahead and interact with your dog; when they see a new person that person always gives them treats and they can start to associate them with something positive rather than that fear that ends up being negative. He says a lot of our problems with our pets, unfortunately, are things that we caused inadvertently and so it really comes down to making sure early on you speak to your veterinarian and you go to a trainer and you make sure that you have the opportunity to give them the exposure and experience they need to be pets we like to have rather than the pets that we do end up with.

Click here to go to the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society.