Unruly Fur And Behavior: How To Train And Take Care Of Pets At Home

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A woman kisses a rescue cat in Ciudad Bolivar neighborhood, southern Bogota, on May 2, 2020. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman kisses a rescue cat in Ciudad Bolivar neighborhood, southern Bogota, on May 2, 2020. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)

People are spending a lot of time at home with their pets right now, and many are adopting pets.

Leaving your dog alone after being together 24/7 is "the worst thing you can do," says Steve Dale, a certified animal behavior consultant.

If you think your dog may have difficulties with separation anxiety, Dale says now's the time to start working on it.

"Dogs are generally not going to figure out, 'Well, he'll be home. I'll be OK,' " he says. "It typically gets worse before it gets better."

Interview Highlights

On whether people with dogs or cats that need regular grooming should wait until the groomer reopens or try to do the grooming themselves

"If you know it's going to be a while, and, you know your dog is really getting to the point where that dog needs a haircut, contact your veterinarian because some veterinary professionals can give you advice about where to go or at least what to do.

"Make sure the hair is out of the dog's eyes, because that's not fair, right? Imagine your vision being impaired every day, all day. So if you can do that safely without poking your dog in the eye, that's the thing to do. And also, be sure to keep up with brushing, so the hair doesn't get matted in the first place."

On not being able to socialize a new puppy with other dogs and people

"... Socialization is so incredibly important. And there's a window of time where dogs are sponges and they socialize very easily. And it's very, very important because without it, we know dogs can develop behavior problems as a result of not being socialized. So let's be creative and find ways to socialize those puppies."

On how to prevent a dog from developing separation anxiety when things change and there aren't people at home all the time

"Well, I think it's going to happen. The dogs are with us 24/7, all day, every day. Adoptions are up. Fosters are up. That's great, except we are there all the time with these dogs, who in some cases have never been left alone. So you can start by setting up a camera. They are not expensive. And then go away, take everyone with you except the dog, and see how the dog does being left home alone. Also, leave some treats out. If those treats are not scarfed up, that's a red flag right there for most dogs.

"There are lots of products available, pheromone products, there's even one that looks like a little halo and you hold it over your dog's head and it actually lowers the anxiety in your dog. There are nutraceutical products available. You can contact your veterinarian and say, 'What do I do now?' "

On the difference between dog and cat behaviors 

"You know, the truth of the matter is that — those of you who have cats know this and understand this well — cats are very different from dogs. They love us, too, they appreciate the fact that we're there. Now, with the kids there all the time, maybe only paying attention to the cats, that might be a bit too much for some cats, but overall, they appreciate the fact that we are there.

"The thing is, they may adjust better than dogs when we suddenly go back to the office. And you know, the dogs aren't getting an email in advance saying that this is going to happen three weeks from Tuesday. They have no way to know what's coming or why it's coming. So I'm more concerned about dogs in that regard."

Julia Corcoran produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Peter O’Dowd. Corcoran also adapted it for the web. 

This segment aired on May 11, 2020.


Jeremy Hobson Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.



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