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puppy licking dishes in dishwasher

Dogs aim to help us out–whether we want them to or not! Image Copr. Claire Hodkinson

In reality, pet-loving owners can have unrealistic expectations. Few of us speak “dog” or understand “felinese” at least without practice, and people easily misunderstand normal pet behaviors—and may actually encourage bad antics without even knowing any better. So what do you do?


Too often, these socially inept cats and dogs (and owners!) means the pet ends up in shelters! Yet there is help available that can literally can save your pet relationship or even the dog and cat’s life. To promote that idea, the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express Tour sponsored by Ceva Animal Health and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists may be coming to a city near you!

Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian, is a spokesperson at the September 8, 2012 Dallas event (THAT’S SATURDAY, GANG!) where you’ll find free behavior tips, shelter pet adoptions, behavior demonstrations, giveaways and more. My friend and colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim, a veterinary behaviorist, will also be on hand to field your dog and cat questions. For a preview, check out this hot-off-the-virtual-press radio interview with Dr. Marty at Pet Peeves Radio.


You really can’t separate pet behavior from their health and well being. For instance, the kitty that gets “creative” outside the box may, indeed, be a behavior problem to you but due to a health condition–or a combination of both. Getting the dog checked by the veterinarian can help pinpoint an anal gland abscess, for instance, that makes him snarl when approached from the rear.

The vet can also direct you to the best person for helping you with a potential behavior issue. Some puppy problems can be fixed with training from a reputable dog trainer. Kitty angst prompting frenzied furniture scratching may be soothed with some help from a cat behavior consultant’s tips about enriching the environment. And veterinarians are the ONLY folks able to prescribe medication (for physical or emotional issues) that may be the tipping point for solving big-time problems. Learn about some of the professional behavior organizations here.  You can learn more about questions to ask to find a dog trainer in this article. Of course, your local veterinarian should know who might be available in your neck of the woods. Many of my referrals come from veterinarians.

ComPetability: Dog Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Cat Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Dog/Cat Behavior Problems


Have you ever needed the help of a pet professional like a dog training specialist or a cat behavior consultant? Where do you go for behavior advice? Yes, you can find some solid, helpful tips on the Internet or even in my books–that first one on dog behavior problems is brand new!–but honestly, it’s a toss up how good “free” info might be, and it could do more harm than good. Your pets rely on you to get the best help possible. And the longer a behavior gets “practiced” the more time it will take to un-learn. Just sayin…

What are your top kitty or doggy behavior complaints? How do you manage them? Please share! And if you’re in the area, say “howdy” to Dr. Marty Becker and the other behavior experts at the event. They truly do want to help your pets behave!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!


  1. Karyl Cunningham

    I get my advice from experience, books and… well… your blogs. LOL

    The most recent problem we’ve had is that Simba has been yowling at the top of her lungs every time someone is in the kitchen, just in case there are treats nearby. It got to the point where she was getting under my feet and driving me completely nuts with all the noise. So finally one night when she was yowling as I got the soft food (which for her is a treat), I put everything down on the counter, and I left the kitchen. Waited until she hushed, then went and got their bowls filled and set down.

    Next night, she started it again, every time I walked into the kitchen. So, I went about my business, dealt with my own dinner, and left. Went to get a drink of water, she followed me and paced some more, I left again. Went in and out of the kitchen several times before she finally gave up and went to curl up in her kitty bed. I gave her a few minutes after that before I went to get her some treats.

    Two nights. That’s all it took. Since then she hasn’t started that up with me again. She tried it on James today and gave up pretty quickly when she realized he was going to walk out of the kitchen too.

    • amyshojai

      Karyl, that’s terrific! Cats are very smart and it doesn’t take long for them to connect-the-dots on cause and effect. Unfortunately, most people give in to the yowl-demands and that just reinforces the behavior.

      • Karyl Cunningham

        It’s hard not to give in sometimes, when you just want to do whatever it takes to make them shush. LOL I have an advantage in that Simba is VERY eager to please, and she does not like anyone to be unhappy with her.

  2. silver price

    Q: My 7-year-old dog, Emory, has a bit of a drooling problem. My apartment building has a small dog area. I’ve been taking him there for potty breaks for years. Recently, however, I’ve noticed that as soon as we step foot in the park he starts drooling excessively. His drooling stops as soon as we leave. The strange part is that it only happens in this specific park—he’s fine inside, outside on walks, and other places. It seems to be an automatic behavioral response to this dog park, so I’m thinking it might be anxiety-related. Have you ever heard of this before?

    • amyshojai

      It could be any number of things. Yes, it could be stress related to some experience he’s had there or expect to have happen. Or it could be anticipatory of something FUN happening. Usually I associate drooling with excitement rather than anxiety. It’s impossible to guess what might trigger the change, but might have something to do with another dog or critter scent that’s specific to this area.


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