16 Pet Behavior Issues and How to Deal With Them
What to do when animals―and their owners―act up.
What to do: “You hope your friend would recognize that her pet is jumping up on you,” says Jennifer Quasha, author of Don't Pet a Pooch While He's Pooping ($9, amazon.com). “But if she doesn’t, politely say, ‘Oh, do you mind? My outfit is black, and I don’t like cat hair,’ or ‘I’m scared of dogs―do you mind putting him outside?’ ” It should be the owner’s responsibility to notice these situations and ask people if they’re comfortable with, say, a dog roaming among the party guests. But if an owner seems oblivious, it’s fine to remind her tactfully.
Issue: Every time you’re out on a walk, your dog insists on conducting his business in an inappropriate spot.
What to do: In the suburbs, don’t let your dog use someone’s lawn as a toilet. “Even if you’re going to pick up the mess, people don’t like the fact that their kids may be running around barefoot where a dog has done his business,” says veterinarian Betsy Brevitz, author of Hound Health Handbook. Instead, she advises, take your dog to the street or to the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the curb. Be sure to pick up any messes and throw them in your own garbage can.
In the city, “don’t take your dog to the one tree on the block,” says Stephen Zawistowski, an animal behaviorist and senior vice president of the ASPCA. The salt in urine can harm the tree if every dog that walks by gives it a sprinkle. “Curb your dog when he urinates,” he says. “Also, keep him out of small gardens and flower beds.” And always pick up after him. (In an American Kennel Club survey, 46 percent of dog owners and 47 percent of nonowners cited those who don’t clean up their dogs’ messes as their biggest pet-related annoyance.)
Issue: There’s a stray animal skulking up and down your street.
What to do: “Use extreme caution when going up to a dog or a cat―you could get a severe bite,” says Brevitz. One option is to call your local animal-control agency. If you’re comfortable with animals and can read their body language well, determine whether the stray seems approachable; if he does, look for identification, usually on the collar. The lack of a collar may be a sign that a dog is not friendly, so it’s usually best to wait for an animal-control officer. An agency’s decision to put the animal up for adoption, send him to a rescue organization, or put him down―and the time frame―will depend on local ordinances.