How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part Two

Dr. Sophia Yin says animal training requires well-defined criteria and clear communication, the right motivators, and excellent timing along with the correct rate of reinforcement. In this second of a two-part article on behavior principles based on the text and the lectures from my Low-Stress Handling certification course, I’ll define and give examples of each principle. I’ll start with well-defined criteria. Let’s say we want to clean our pet’s teeth. It’s unlikely that our pet will let us put a toothbrush in their mouth the first time they’re exposed to one, let alone clean all their teeth in one sitting. … Continue reading How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part Two

How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part One

When it comes to modifying animal behavior, one can turn to behavior specific guides for answers, but the best solution lies in understanding principles behind behavior modification. In both the text and the lectures for her Low-Stress Handling certification course, Dr. Yin discusses four of them: habituation, flooding, desensitization, and counter-conditioning. In this part one of two series, I’ll define and give examples of each principle. I’ll also explain why Yin (and other experts) advises against flooding, and instead recommends a combination of desensitization and counter-conditioning. Habituation is a repeated exposure to a stimulus with no negative effects. When my … Continue reading How To Modify A Pet’s Behavior, Part One

Photo provided by Stephanie Merlin

Interview with Cat Behavior Consultant Stephanie Merlin

The first year of my cat behavior consulting business I had no clients and perhaps would have quit if not the encouragement of other cat behavior consultants such as Stephanie Merlin of The Fulfilled Feline. Like me, Stephanie feel organically … Continue reading Interview with Cat Behavior Consultant Stephanie Merlin

How To Recognize Fear in Dogs and Cats

If you have ever owned or met an aggressive dog or cat, you’re not alone.The Humane Society of United States reports that there are two million dog bites annually, while the Insurance Information Institute says that liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost insurance companies $797 million in 2019. As for cats, Cornell University of Veterinarian Medicine reports that 27% of cats relinquished to shelters for behavioral reasons are surrendered for aggression, while Healthy Pets says that pet owners believe aggression is the number of one behavior issue for cats. In the first module of Dr. … Continue reading How To Recognize Fear in Dogs and Cats

Causes of and Solutions for Cat Aggression

Cat aggression is a serious problem that can result in injury to other animals and people, as well as cause disease. The following causes and solutions are a starting point for addressing aggression. A cat with inappropriate behavior should always see a vet for a health check. Should your cat receive a clean bill of health, please consider contacting a cat behavior consultant. Many behavior modification techniques have detrimental effects if misapplied. A qualified professional will take a complete behavior history, develop an intervention plan customized for your cat, and guide you through its implementation. Lack of Socialization: Adult cats … Continue reading Causes of and Solutions for Cat Aggression

A Quick Guide to Cat & Child Interactions

A cat’s first few days in a new home are often stressful for it but exciting for any children in that home. Balance your child’s enthusiasm for spending time with your cat with your cat’s need to acclimate to their new home by allowing your cat to explore your home without your child present. Then ask your child to allow your cat to approach without paying attention to them or forcing attention on them. When your cat safely interacts with your child, reinforce with treats or toys. Observe Your Cat’s Body Language Teach your child how to read your cat’s … Continue reading A Quick Guide to Cat & Child Interactions

Preparing Your Cat for A New Baby

Maintain A Consistant Schedule Before your baby arrives, decide on and start following a schedule for feeding and playing with your cat, cleaning its litter boxes, and performing other daily care. If possible, enlist family members to help minimize disruption to your cat’s routine in a time of great change. Don’t make the common mistake of giving extra attention to your cat before the baby’s birth. Your cat will become use to the extra attention and won’t understand why it lessens when your baby arrives. Identify activities that your cat enjoys and that you can provide even when busy with … Continue reading Preparing Your Cat for A New Baby