Changes in the environment may contribute to the emergence of behavioural problems. For example, changes in routine, a new member of the household (pet, baby or spouse), moving house, or the loss of a family member or pet can have a dramatic impact on behaviour. Any medical or degenerative changes associated with ageing may cause the pet to be even more sensitive to these environmental changes.
Learning also plays a part in many behavioural problems. Early training and socialisation is essential to have a happy, well-adjusted pet. Punishment of behavioural problems often worsens the situation and it is very important that professional advice is obtained as soon as the problem appears to effectively resolve it. Positive reinforcement is the preferred method for changing behaviour, however this also needs to be used carefully as it can encourage undesirable behaviour if used incorrectly.
How are behavioural problems treated?
There is no simple cure for any behavioural problem, so be careful when taking ‘helpful" advice. For example, many people with a destructive dog are given the advice to get another dog to fix the problem, however, they may end up with two destructive dogs! It is very important that the cause of the problem is addressed, not just the symptoms of the problem. For example don’t chain a dog up because it is digging; find out the reason for the digging and treat the dog accordingly.