Pet Behaviour Blog

  • Pet First Aid: Dog Bites


    Home treatment or an emergency trip to the vet or doctor? We’re here to help.

    In our series on pet first aid, we will be detailing the various accidents or ailments that could happen to your pet, and what you can do immediately to treat them and limit the damage before heading to the vet. However, not all accidents require treatment just for the dog. What happens if you or a friend/family member is the victim?

    In our fourth article in the series, we tackle what to do in the case of a dog bite.

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  • Dog Behaviour by Ansie Minnaar

    Playing a game of fetch or tug-o-war is also a great way to expel some energy in a good, positive way.

    By Ansie Minnaar

    Back when all dogs were wild, actions like chewing, scent-marking, barking, chasing, jumping and biting weren't an issue. Now that dogs are part of human families, these natural behaviours can become problem behaviours. That means we have to shape a dog's natural behaviour so it is acceptable in our home, for our children, our other pets, our friends and neighbours and deliverymen and clients if your dog goes to work with you.

    A myriad of factors contribute towards behaviour including genetics, early life experiences, and the extent and nature of owner engagement. Fear is your worst enemy. If your dog is predisposed towards fear due to its genetics, then a long, loving path of behaviour modification and management lies ahead of you. Not always easy but very rewarding when you advance down the road, one small step at a time, towards a happy tail-wagging dog who can face the world and love being in it more.

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  • Ding dong, supper’s here!


    Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning

    The name Pavlov is synonymous with dogs. A bell rings and the dogs salivate at the prospect of food. But do you know how this behaviour came about and why it’s so significant?  Here’s a bit of a history and psychology lesson for you.

    Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physicist who was particularly interested in human and animal behaviour. His biggest contribution to the field of psychology is the theory of classical conditioning – which he demonstrated by means of his famous experiment with dogs. To put it simply, classical conditioning is when a reflex (which is automatic) is conditioned (or manipulated) into responding to an external stimulus.

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  • Dog Training: To treat or not to treat?


    You’re at the end of your tether. No amount of shouting, smacking, or punishing is getting your dog to behave in the manner you wish him to. He won’t heel, doesn’t sit when asked and jumps all over your guests. Bottom line – your dog needs training.

    Dog behaviourists and trainers for years have advocated that positive affirmation is the way to go when training your dog, and using treats to do it comes up trumps.

    Why do treats work when training?

    Quite simply, dogs love food. And they have a keen sense of smell. So it makes sense that using food is an effective training tool.

    Your dog does something right – you reward him with a treat –he eventually associates that behaviour with getting a treat. It’s a win win.

    However, there are some guidelines to follow when using treats as an effective training tool:

    What treats to use: Continue reading

  • Spot Meet Fluffy, Fluffy Meet Spot


    Introducing your new feline friend to your resident pooch, and vice versa

    Your cat has ruled the roost for years and suddenly a noisy, busy, larger-than-life creature enters the picture – it’s understandable your cat isn’t going to react too kindly. Likewise if your pooch has protected your home and been the sole attention receiver for decades and you decide to bring a feline friend (or foe) into her territory – things could get messy.

    It doesn’t have to be though. As with most things that involve your pets, all you need is some planning and a lot of patience.

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  • Down Boy! How to stop your dog jumping

    Do you ever dread going to visit the neighbours because of their dog that always jumps up leaving muddy paw prints on your white trousers, or avoid play dates with your toddler’s best friend because their dog keeps on bowling him over? Now consider if people were to feel the same way about visiting your house.
    We often tend to tolerate jumping – because they’re our beloved pets and they are excited to see us – but what about your guests, your children’s safety or when you’re all dressed up for a night on the town? Jumping up is not so welcomed then!


    Why do dogs jump?

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  • Why does my dog dig?

    Dog behaviour, Regal Pet Health

    Digging may be perfectly normal behaviour for your canine friend, however, this kind of behaviour may pose as troublesome for you!

    We know that digging can be harmful to your environment, but, at the same time, digging for some dogs is an activity that keeps them balanced and busy. It’s a form of exercise and distraction, and, for a dog, it can be simply a matter of being bored and having nothing else to do.

    It’s good to know why your dog is actually digging. It could be for a number of reasons. Sometimes they dig to get warm or stay cool, to entertain themselves, to bury valued items etc. Continue reading

  • Why does my dog chase its tail?

    Dog behavior, Regal Pet HealthBy Dr Megan Kelly

    Why does my dog chase its tail?

    We see it often, a dog thats chasing its tail incessantly never quite catching it, and hour after hour he just keeps trying. We joke saying " he's not the brightest" but more than likely there is a reason for this behaviour.

    We call this compulsive behaviour and it's similar to obsessive compulsive disorder in people. It is a behaviour that is performed repeatedly over and over again to the extent, if it is severe, it actually starts to interfere with your pets normal life.

    Here are a few examples of compulsive disorders:

    Circling, tail chasing, pacing, chewing feet, licking, biting at flies, self directed aggression e.g. Attacking one's tail, persistent barking and staring at shadows.

    If you compare these behaviours in pets to the stereotypic behaviour of zoo animals there is most likely an environmental cause to this behaviour. So we find these pets are often confined to small areas, lack stimulation and the ability to socialise with other dogs and people, and they may also have been physically abused, or had a fearful experience.

    We believe these compulsive behaviours are brought upon by stress, fear and frustration. Some breeds are more predisposed to compulsive disorders e.g. German shepherds and tail chasing.

    Incidentally most pets exhibiting compulsive behaviours also appear to be highly strung in nature, which is very common in the German shepherd breed.

    So how do we treat this condition? Continue reading

  • Dogs that mount; legs, cushions, furniture…

    Our pet behaviourist advises:

    Dogs that mount; legs, cushions, furniture…

    I believe this is a problem that is often misunderstood and not corrected. Most of the time, a dog that jumps on your leg and starts to viciously thrust its hips is funny, or embarrassing. It depends on the situation and the company you’re in. I ALWAYS laugh! My Vizsla, Jelena will take an opportunity presented to her. Thank goodness she only does it to me and not to visitors, as that can be a very uncomfortable scenario to explain yourself out of. Laughing at my dog, of course does not help either. This ritual has become the best game ever because she is able to extract so much attention from me; this just further fuels her to try even harder. The smile on her little face…

    Mounting is a natural behaviour for male dogs in order to increase their population and ensure survival. It becomes a problem when it is out of context, especially on the leg of a visitor- or your mother in law! Dogs don’t only mount when mating, and they don’t only mount other dogs; they may also mount furniture, other animals, stuffed toys, and people. Female dogs can also mount, although less frequently than male dogs. Continue reading

  • Do dogs use body language?

    Can we learn what these behaviours mean in order to better understand our dogs?

    Do dogs use body language?

    Dogs are very expressive animals; they will use body postures and expressions to communicate when they’re feeling happy, sad, nervous, fearful and angry. Fortunately this is a language we can share and communicate in the same way. Although this language system is elaborate and practiced, it is one we can easily understand and interpret. By understanding what our dogs want from us, we will have the knowledge and foresight to know what our dog’s next action will be. Continue reading

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