Nov 23, 2009 5:56 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP
If you have seen the movie Marley and Me you know it is about a beloved and wonderful, yet ill-behaved troublemaker of a dog. This is a common scenario and people often ask us how to "fix" a dog like Marley. Here is a situation where an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
If we want a dog to live in our homes amongst us as a family member, we need to provide them with boundaries and routine from day one. You may remember seeing Marley ride home unfettered on the front seat of the car with only his "daddy" (the driver) in the car with him. In the next scene Marley is running freely in the house, knocking over a bag of dog food and then eating everything that spilled on the floor. He is then left loose in the garage while no one is home - they return to find everything in the garage destroyed.
Freedom is a wonderful thing, but youngsters and the untrained need boundaries in order to learn the social skills that allow freedom to be successful. If we prevent our puppies and kittens developing bad habits while they are young, they are far less likely to learn bad behaviors as adults.
Pets should be confined to a crate, exercise pen, fenced run, or smallish room when not supervised by an adult until we know they understand the rules. If we can prevent bad behaviors via good routines, we are then able to use more positive reinforcement - we won't have to punish our pets or get frustrated with them.
If you have questions about behavior or training, give us a call. For more severe problems our Dr. Evans can do a behavior consult with you.
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