Monthly Behaviour Tip
Although a nice relief from the cold winter weather, spring for our pets often brings with it a side effect of allergies, and annoying insects and parasites. Whether it is a parasite, pain or skin condition, there are many reasons for your dog to scratch or chew itself. Before referring to ‘Dr Google’ and misdiagnosing your dog’s health problem, it is best to seek medical advice from your Veterinary team.
Unfortunately, there is not always an underlying medical reason causing your dog to scratch and chew itself. Dogs can and do suffer from obsessive compulsive behavioural problems, and this may lead to them scratching and licking to excess. However, more commonly and similar to people biting their nails or twirling their hair, your dog’s constant scratching and licking can be a sign of anxiety. This may be due to fear, stress or a lack of physical and mental stimulation.
Whatever the reason for the anxiety, your dog’s constant scratching, licking or chewing behaviours can cause severe damage and effect his/her quality of life. It is important not to punish your dog when you see the behaviour, but also not to give your dog attention as it may reinforce it. Instead, help your dog to develop alternative coping mechanisms. Act early and intercept your dog’s behaviour as soon as you notice it, as once the behaviour has developed it may be difficult to effectively intervene. Distract or redirect your dog’s behaviour as soon it starts by encouraging him/her to chew on toys or bones or engage in a food based puzzle. Bitter sprays or an Elizabethan collar can also help discourage and prevent the self-destructive behaviour. Keep your dog stimulated both physically and mentally to help keep him/her engaged and active. Supply lots of new and varied toys, exercise daily and regular interaction with either people or other dogs. By being attentive to your dogs, teaching alternative behaviours and increasing daily stimulation, your dog’s self-destructive behaviour should reduce and potentially in turn make for a less anxious dog.
Veterinary Nurse Kirstie Hancock is qualified in animal behaviour with her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services through the Delta Society. She has lots of great tips and ideas when it comes to misbehaving pets. Keep an eye out for her monthly tips on our Facebook page. Also check out her own business Facebook page - Positive Paws.
Archived previous tips:
September 2019 blog article - Skin & allergies
August 2019 blog article - Lets talk muzzles
July 2019 blog article - How diet and obesity affects behaviour
June 2019 blog article - Teaching old dogs new tricks
May 2019 blog article - Arthritis
April 2019 blog article - Behaviour
March 2019 blog article – Behaviour
February 2019 blog article – Separation anxiety
January 2019 blog article – Summer Survival / Ears
December 2018 blog article – Christmas and holiday safety
November 2018 blog article - Vaccinations & Parasite Control
October 2018 blog article - Cat behaviour
September 2018 blog article - Skin & allergies
August 2018 blog article - Dental Month
July 2018 blog article - Cat Obesity
June 2018 blog article - Winter time
May 2018 - Senior Pets / Eye Care
April 2018 - Endocrine Disease
March 2018 blog article - Easter camping
February 2018 blog article - Heart health