Behavioural Tip of the Month

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

Pet care at Murray Bridge Veterinary Clinic for dogs and cats

 After Hours & Emergencies  08 8531 4000

Our comprehensive emergency service offers a veterinarian on call 24 hours every day of the year.

Telephone 0885 314 000 when the clinic is closed to hear a recorded message and directions to speak to a staff member.

Always phone first before rushing to the clinic with an injured animal or other emergency. An additional fee is charged outside normal clinic hours.