Last week we went through Steps 1-4 on how to positively change your dog’s destructive behavior. Today we finish looking through the steps that can help you and your dog live in peace!
The popularity of essential oils have really taken off in recent years. You may have heard the benefits of such oils as lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile, rose, and frankincense in alleviating symptoms of stress and anxiety or as a sleep aid. EO’s have similar benefits to our pets as well! We currently use a “sleep” essential oil blend to help our senior dog sleep at night.
Step 6: Classical Music
Research has shown how great different types of music can affect our mood. Researchers at Stanford University (press release 2006) have said that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” Isn’t that amazing?
Play music to relax your pet, specifically music at a moderate to low volume and possessing a “largo” or slow tempo. Classical music seems to have the best effects for both humans and animals. A company called Through a Dog’s Ear has designed albums specifically for cats and dogs, for traveling in a car, puppies, and seniors. (Side note: they also have one to help desensitise noise phobias.)
Step 7: Working with a positive reinforcement trainer
There is not enough room in a blog to substitute for a quality trainer. Positive reinforcement trainers must stay informed on the latest in animal behavior research and methods for humanely working through rerouting the brain. A positive reinforcement trainer will be able to work with you to build a custom program that works for both you and your pet. If you have a kitty, know that there are trainers that work with this superior species. (Editor’s note). We recommend L’Chaim Canine & Feline for helping with destructive behavior issues in cats.
Step 8: Pharmaceuticals
I won’t go into great detail here as I am not a veterinarian. The last few decades have yielded great advancements in mental health medications. Many of the medications that help humans cope with depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges work for our pets as well, including destructive behavior.
If you have worked through all the other steps and aren’t seeing an appreciable difference in your pet’s behavior it might be time to consult your veterinarian. Your vet is knowledgeable and will help you choose appropriate medications. Our vet helped a foster with minor crate anxiety by prescribing a low dose of Prozac and our senior dog is now on Trazadone for his cognitive disfunction. Please don’t share your medications with your pet!
If your pet still exhibits persistent severe behavior issues we suggest working with Dr. Feltes at The Behavior Clinic. Dr. Feltes, DVM is a licensed veterinarian with a focus in behavior. I personally know several pets that have become happy, content, law abiding citizens because of her help. Her services do not come cheap but are well worth your (and your pet’s) mental well being!
Change is brought about by patience and persistence. Destructive behavior changes take time, like trying to stop a bad habit. The more you put into this process, the more results you’ll see. Don’t give up on your pet, it would never give up on you!