Behavior Resources

Whether you’re welcoming a new pet into your home or looking for guidance about the pets you currently have, we have several resources to help you!

Below are links to some of the common issues you may be facing with your pet.

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Dog Resources

Mental Stimulation Tips for Keeping a Happy Dog

Your dog gets bored — just like you!

But unlike you, he can’t sit down to read a book or play a video game. Instead, he might become restless or even destructive. That’s why it’s important to provide opportunities for your dog to exercise his mind as well as his body.

You’ll find that a dog who gets mental stimulation is a happier, calmer, better-behaved companion.

Try these canine boredom busters:

Enroll in basic or specialty behavior training classes. If you haven’t taken a class with your dog yet, why not? Classes are a great opportunity to bond with your dog, boost his confidence, and develop or polish his manners and skills. And, you’ll love bringing home a tired-out dog! Check out our wide variety of fun classes here. 

Buy puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys that get your dog to work for snacks.

Practice “nosework” by hiding treats under cardboard boxes. Teach your dog to find his treats by sniffing and searching.

Rotate his selection of toys. Swap out what’s available for your dog to play with to keep his assortment fresh and fun.

Teach and practice tricks like “spin,” “shake hands,” “jump through a hula hoop,” and more. You’ll enjoy bonding with your dog and watching him learn.

If he likes other dogs, arrange a play date. Nothing stimulates a friendly dog like time with canine friends.

Stuff or freeze treats inside a Kong.

Teach your dog the names of his toys, and see if he can be trained to retrieve them!

Try canine sports or fun learning classes. We offer a bunch! Browse our agility, Rally-O, canine enrichment games, workouts you can enjoy with your dog, and more.

Take him to a dog-friendly event. If he likes people and other dogs, head to a pledge walk or a restaurant with a dog-friendly patio. Check out our Pup Nights and other pet-friendly events here.

Above all, have fun with your dog! Your dog is a social creature who craves your attention. The best boredom busters are time spent together.

The Four-Legged Sibling: Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby

Bringing home a new baby means new smells, new sounds, and a whole new routine. It’s important to prepare your dog for these changes. Start several months before Baby comes home.

Practice basic training.

Life will be hectic when Baby arrives, and you’ll want to be able to control your dog with simple commands, like “sit,” “stay,” “drop it,” and coming when called. This would be a great time to enroll your dog in basic behavior training.

Babies get lots of visitors. Practice meeting new people now so he learns to greet visitors politely.

If your dog jumps up on you, this is a good time to teach him to stay on the floor.

Prepare for changes.

You may have new rules when Baby comes. If you don’t want your dog to sleep in your bed or climb on the couch after Baby arrives, start practicing these habits ahead of time.

If you think you might be too busy to walk your dog after Baby comes, hire a dog walker or find a doggie daycare and establish a good relationship with them now.

Your schedule may change after Baby is born. Help your dog get used to this by mixing up his feeding schedule. Alternatively, you could buy an automatic feeder.

Expose your dog to new experiences.

Unwrap new items, like high chairs and swings, so your dog can investigate them.

Start using baby lotions and shampoos on your hands so your dog can get used to the new smells.

You can play baby sounds and crying noises on your computer so your dog can get used to them.

Expose your dog to lots of handling. It’s important to know how your dog will react when Baby pets or pokes him, especially if any parts of his body are sensitive or painful. Reward your dog with lots of treats and praise to help him get used to being handled.

If you have friends with kids, invite them over for a fun game of fetch. Show your dog that children and new friends are fun!

Make a good first impression.

When you bring Baby home, make sure your dog has a chance to greet everyone before he sees the baby. After he recovers from his excitement, put him on a leash. Have treats handy!

Remain calm when you bring Baby inside. This will help show your dog that the new addition is nothing to worry about. Have a helper lavish your dog with treats and praise while Baby settles in.

With your dog safely secured on a leash, take him into a quiet room and allow him to sniff Baby. Offer lots of treats and praise. Your dog may be very curious and pull towards the baby. This is normal, but maintain good control of your dog. At first, you may want to limit their interactions to brief periods.

Help your dog and baby develop a friendship.

Share your attention the best you can, by talking to your dog and offering him plenty of treats and pats. Include him in your day whenever possible — it will make him very happy!

Help your dog associate Baby with good things, like praise and pets whenever the baby is around.

If you have trouble, seek help.

Seek the help of a qualified trainer if you need it. Remember not to punish your dog, as it can cause him to feel even more stressed and lead to more behavior problems.

Congratulations to you and your family members, two- and four-footed! 

Chew on This: How to Prevent Destructive Chewing

It’s normal for puppies and dogs to chew, but it’s up to you to manage the habit before it becomes destructive or leads to choking.

If your dog is chewing, first, figure you need to figure out why.

Common Reasons for Chewing:

Puppyhood Teething: Just like human babies, puppies experience soreness and drooling when their teeth come in. At 3 weeks (for baby teeth) and 3 months (for adult teeth) your pup may look for something to chew on for pain relief.

Boredom and Pent-Up Energy: Is your dog ignored or left home alone for too long? He’s likely to go looking for mental stimulation and start chewing.

Feeling Trapped: A dog who is confined to a crate, garage, or room for too long may chew in an attempt to escape.

Fear or Anxiety: Think of a person who chews their fingernails when they feel nervous. If your dog has recently experienced a change in routine or is experiencing fear (from fireworks, sirens, storms, punishment or other), he may resort to chewing to soothe himself.

Diet: A hungry dog may look for things to nibble on.

How to Manage Chewing:

 Put away anything you don’t want your dog to chew. Remember, your dog can’t tell the difference between a cloth toy and your expensive shirt. It’s your job to keep items off-limits.

Consistently offer safe items to chew, like chew treats and Kong toys. If your puppy tries to chew your hands or sweater, consistently redirect him to a chew toy and praise him for using it.

Practice proper confinement, like crate training.

Exercise your dog. Play, exercise, and walks can release pent-up energy.

Try a spray deterrent. If your dog won’t stop chewing a particular off-limits item, purchase a safe chewing deterrent spray, like the taste of bitter apple. You must be consistent about spraying the item every day for at least two weeks or until your dog loses all interest in chewing it.

Provide a consistent, nourishing diet.

Important: Be kind and patient with your dog. Punishing your dog for chewing, especially after the fact, can backfire by making him MORE anxious, fearful, and prone to chewing. Instead provide plenty of safe chew toys and praise, praise, praise!

Humane Animal Rescue Presents: Safe Spaces

Crate Training Your Dog

A dog crate — when introduced and used properly — can be a great training tool that makes you and your dog happy.

Why Use a Crate?

To keep your dog safely confined (and out of mischief and harm’s way) when you can’t supervise him.

For housetraining. Since most dogs don’t like to soil their crates, crates can be used to prevent accidents when you’re not home.

To help your dog feel safe and secure. Many dogs come to think of their crate as their “den” where they can retreat when they need a break.

A crate should never be used as a punishment or as substitute for proper training. Your dog should spend most of his day outside of the crate, enjoying the company of family.

How to Introduce a Crate:

  1. Choose the right sized crate. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lie comfortably inside the crate — that’s it! (If he has too much room, he may use part of the crate as a bathroom.)
  2. Allow a good first impression. New things can be scary! Let your dog explore the crate. Toss toys and favorite treats inside. Encourage him to enter the crate on his own. Only shut the door after he has gone inside willingly. After a few minutes, or if he shows distress, open the door and let him out. Remain calm and happy, so your dog sees that being inside the crate is fun!
  3. Repeat step 2 until your dog is comfortable, gradually staying inside the crate for longer periods of time.
  4. Keep it nearby. Keep the crate near the family so your dog doesn’t feel jailed or isolated. Practice crating at mealtime next to the family dinner table, and at bedtime in your bedroom.
  5. Consider adding your dogs’ favorite things to the crate, like a Kong or an old t-shirt that smells like you. (Never leave your dog unsupervised with something he could choke on.)
  6. Be patient! Allow your dog time to get used to the crate.

Once your dog is comfortably sleeping through the night in his crate, he can be crated while home alone. Practice leaving for 30 minutes, then gradually increasing your time away while your dog is crated.

Important:

  • While training, reward your dog’s good behavior!
  • Practice crating your dog while you’re home, too, so he doesn’t come to associate being crated with you leaving.
  • Remove your dog’s collar, or consider using a breakaway collar, while your dog is inside the crate. The collar can get caught on the bars and pose a serious risk of strangling.
  • Never leave a dog crated for longer than he can hold his bladder or bowels. Puppies and older dogs may not be able to hold it all day.
  • A crated dog may be excited and extra rambunctious when you get home! Plan for playtime to help him burn off that happy energy.
  • Dogs who’ve suffered trauma or separation anxiety may not be good candidates for crates, as they may injure themselves trying to escape. If your dog shows signs of panic (damage to the crate or surrounding objects, wetness from drool or urine, defecation, or excessive howling), consult a behavior trainer.

Here’s to making your dog’s crate time a happy time for both of you!

Achoo! Living With Pet Allergies

What do you do when you’ve met your perfect match, and they give you the sniffles? If you’re experiencing allergies that are annoying, but not life-threatening, try these helpful tips before surrendering your pet:

Have you pet bathed on a weekly basis.

Special shampoos and wipes can prevent dander.

Brush your pet outside.

Ask your vet for supplements and other ways to keep your pet’s coat healthy.

Practice good housekeeping.

Vacuum frequently. This will make a big difference. Many vacuums have special filters and bags to keep allergens from escaping.

Dust often with a damp rag.

Use dust-free kitty litter and wear a mask when scooping.

Wash your bedding frequently.

Breathe fresh air.

Open your windows when possible.

Check out HEPA filters to reduce allergens in your home.

Establish a pet-free zone.

Consider making the bedroom or a home office off-limits to pets. Use an air purifier in this room.

Make sure any bedding, rugs and curtains in this room are easily and frequently washed.

Consult a doctor or allergist.

An antihistamine or other alternative may help. Or, the doctor may pinpoint your triggers and find it’s not your pet, but rather the pollen you encounter on your dog walks that’s bothering you.

Good luck! Here’s to a healthy, happy life with your pet by your side!

Cat Resources

Bad Cattitude: Coping With an Aggressive Cat

A cat can show aggression for many different reasons. If your cat is showing a sudden personality change, see your vet right away. Your cat may have a medical problem that needs attention.

What to Do if Your Cat is Aggressive:

Practice safety first. Don’t risk injury to yourself.

Don’t assume the problem will pass on its own. It may get worse.

Never punish an aggressive cat. You will only frighten the cat and make the problem worse.

Don’t try to break up a fight between cats. Instead, distract them with a loud noise. Consider throwing a blanket over the aggressor so the other cat can escape. Keep them separated until you can safely re-introduce them.

Consult your vet and/or a behaviorist.

Possible Causes of Feline Aggression:

Pain. Consult your vet! Avoid petting your cat, as you may cause further discomfort or injury.

Fear. Observe your cat to identify possible triggers of fearful aggression: strangers, animals, or objects. Don’t try to console a fearful cat, as you could get hurt or make his fear worse.

Rowdy play. If your cat becomes overly aggressive during play, switch to play that puts a safe space between you and your cat — like with a laser pointer or a toy at the end of a stick. Be sure your cat has plenty opportunities to burn off energy with safe play.

Territorial feelings. Cats are very territorial! They can become aggressive towards a cat in the home or yard. Follow our advice when introducing cats to each other. (THIS CAN BE A LINK.)

Petting (overstimulation). Your cat may have a firm limit when it comes to petting, and he will let you know when to stop. Be mindful of this. Shorten petting times and lighten your touch.

Redirected aggression. This kind of aggression can seem to come on for no reason at all. Something is bothering your cat, and it could be anything from an unwelcome visitor, to an animal in the yard, to a scary new object in the room. Observe your cat carefully to find the source of his agitation.

You Rub Me the Wrong Way: How to Avoid Overstimulating Your Cat

It happens all the time. One moment, a friendly cat will be enjoying a pat or a rub. The next moment, he’s biting or swatting!

They can’t help it. Cats can be easily overstimulated. If you learn to understand your cat’s body language, your petting sessions will be nicer for both of you.

How to Tell When Your Cat is Getting Overstimulated:

Fast tail swishing

Skin twitching (especially on the back)

Sudden glances at your hand

Flattened or changed ear position

What to Do:

Avoid that spot. He may not like being touched in a certain spot and is telling you not to touch him there. Most cats don’t like to have their legs, feet, or belly touched.

Lighten up. Your touch may be too rough.

Take a break. Chances are, your cat will be ready for more petting before long.

Meow Are You? Successful Cat-to-Cat Introductions

Cats can be territorial, but with proper introductions, many can live with other cats and even become great friends with their feline roommates. The trick is to provide plenty of time for a slow, careful introduction.

How to Introduce Your New Cat to Your Resident Cat:

  1. Keep them separated. Set up your new feline arrival in an enclosed room. Provide food and water, a litterbox, bed, and toys. Spend time with each of your cats — separately — for the first several days.
  2. Swap scents. Scent communication is very important to curious cats. Give each cat a blanket or bed before they meet. Then, swap them so they can get used to each other’s scents before meeting.
  3. Let your new cat explore — alone. Secure your resident cat(s) in another room so your new cat can explore your house on her own. Allow your new cat to explore and gain confidence before moving to step 4. This could take several days.
  4. Give a glimpse. Let the cats see each other through a baby gate or other barricade. Make this a positive experience by serving them meals or treats. If, in time, the cats show no signs of aggression, you can progress to play sessions (with a wand toy, for example) while the cats see each other through the gate.
  5. Go face-to-face. If your cats have completed steps 1-4 with no signs of aggression, you can host a supervised introduction. You may still need to separate them when you’re not home.

No two cats are the same, so it’s impossible to say how long this process will take. Some hissing will be normal at first.

Practice love and patience, and always reward your cats’ positive behavior with treats and happy attention. The end result will be worth it!

Cats and Dogs: Introducing Multi-Species Roommates

Millions of happy pet owners know that it’s possible for cats and dogs to be great friends and roommates. Here’s how to set them up for success.

  1. Choose the right dog. The Adoption team at Humane Animal Rescue can help you meet a dog with a low prey drive (little desire to “hunt” or chase), or possibly even one that has prior experience living with cats.
  2. Practice basic training. In order to keep your cat safe, you must be able to control your dog with commands like “sit” and “stay.” You may need to keep your dog on a leash until you’re sure he won’t chase or bother your cat.
  3. Make sure your cat can escape the dog. Provide a tall cat tree or other dog-free zone she can escape to if needed.
  4. Trim your cat’s nails to avoid injury if she swats your dog.
  5. Reward good behavior. Offer your dog and cat lots of treats and praise for calm behavior. You can also use clicker training to reinforce good behavior.
  6. Share your love. Help curb jealousy by giving all your pets lots of loving attention.
  7. Make sure the litter box off limits to your dog. It’s dangerous for your dog to ingest litter. On top of that, his hanging around a litterbox can make your cat feel vulnerable or averse to using it. If your dog can’t resist the litterbox, keep it behind a gate or somewhere he can’t access it.

No two pets are the same, so it’s impossible to say how long the introduction process will take. Some hissing and barking will be normal at first.

Practice love and patience, and always reward your pets’ positive behavior with treats and happy attention. The end result will be worth it!

Scratch That: How to Deter Your Cat’s Destructive Scratching

Cats scratch objects for lots of reasons:

To remove the outer sheaths of their “fingernails.” Scratching is a natural, not “bad” behavior!

To stretch their muscles.

To mark their territory. If you spend a lot of time on the couch or a favorite chair, your cat may scratch it to show that she’s part of the family.

Because they’re feeling stimulated and excited. If your cat scratches the carpet or another item when you get home, she’s telling you she’s happy to see you!

How to Deter Unwanted Scratching: 

  1. Buy a scratching post and put it near the item your cat is scratching. Rub catnip on the scratcher and dangle toys near it to make it even more tempting than the object she likes to scratch.
  2. Offer your cat a vertical and a horizontal scratching post. She may prefer using one or both.
  3. Make the item your cat is scratching undesirable. Cover it with a sheet, plastic protector, double-sided tape, or any number of scratch deterrent products available at a pet supply store.
  4. Keep your cat’s nails trimmed. Most cats don’t mind the occasional at-home pedicure.
  5. If your deterrents work, don’t rush to remove them! Your cat may revert back to old behaviors.

Don’t punish your cat or squirt her with a spray bottle when she scratches. You’ll only cause her to feel stress. Instead, give her a scratching post so she can release her urge to scratch. You’ll both be happier!

Welcome Home, Kitty! How to Help Your New Cat Settle In

Imagine being delivered to a brand-new home, full of people you’ve just met. You don’t know where you’re allowed to sit or which food is yours. You can’t even find the bathroom! That’s how confused and overwhelmed your new cat or kitten feels.

You did something wonderful when you adopted a feline. Now, it’s up to you to help her adapt to her new surroundings. Follow these steps to help her start off on the right paw!

Before the New Cat Arrives:

Cat-proof your home. Cats love to play with things that dangle. Safely secure all wires, electrical cords, strings that hang from window blinds, and so on.

Many plants are poisonous to cats. Review this list and make sure your cat won’t have access to any toxic houseplants.

Make sure household cleaners and chemicals are safely out of your cat’s reach.

Set up a litterbox in a quiet area that’s easily accessible to the cat. If you already have a cat, set up a new, additional litterbox so you have one box per cat.

When the New Cat Arrives:

Let your new cat get comfortable in one room before exploring the rest of the house. Be sure she has access to food, water, toys, and a litterbox in the mean time.

If your new cat is hesitant to explore the rest of the house, provide safe hiding places, like boxes. Practice “scent swapping” by petting her with a washcloth to get her scent on it, and then placing the washcloth in the house. The familiar scent will her feel at ease in her new surroundings.

If you have another cat or a dog, be sure to read our tips about successful introductions.

Introduce your cat to a scratching post to provide an outlet for natural scratching behavior

Remember:

Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives.

Cats that go outside face many risks: attack by other animals, getting hit by cars, being poisoned by substances like anti-freeze, exposure to extreme temperatures, and even being harmed by people.

If you want to take your cat outside, train her to use a harness and leash or spending time with her in an outdoor enclosure.

We hope you and your new cat or kitten enjoy a long, happy life together!

The Happy Cat’s Litterbox Tips for Solving Litterbox Blues

Cats will instinctively seek out a litterbox. But sometimes, medical problems or stressful events, like a move or the arrival of a new pet, can cause a change in litterbox behavior.

If your cat has been having accidents outside the box, try these tips:

  1. First, consult your vet. A change in behavior or bathroom habits can indicate a medical problem. Make sure your kitty isn’t suffering from an unseen ailment!
  2. Keep it clean. Cats like a tidy litterbox and may “think outside the box” if there’s waste in the box.
  3. Consider the litter’s texture, especially if your cat is declawed. Declawed cats can be extra sensitive. Older cats or any felines with sensitivity issues may prefer an extra soft litter.
  4. Consider the litterbox location. Your cat may feel vulnerable using a litterbox in a space that’s too noise — or too secluded. If you have multiple floors, put a litterbox on each floor. If your cat has designated her own bathroom space, try keeping a litterbox in that spot!
  5. Keep one box per cat. Most cats don’t like to share. Plus, multiple cats means one box will get dirty faster.
  6. Buy a bigger box. Your cat’s litterbox should be one and a half times the size of your cat.
  7. Consider the shape. A tiny kitten or elderly senior may have a hard time getting into a box with high sides. If your litterbox has a lid and your cat is avoiding it, try removing the lid.
  8. Ditch the scent. Perfumed litters are meant to please humans, but may bother your cat.
  9. Avoid plastic litter liners. While some cats don’t mind them, other cats may snag their claw on the liner and get frightened.

Remember, never punish your cat for accidents. You’ll only frighten your cat. Practice patience to find out what’s keeping your cat from using her box.

Tough Kitty: Play Therapy For Rough Cats

Cats are natural hunters. Your cat may love blankets and baby talk, but he still needs opportunities to flex his instincts and stalk, capture, and “kill” his prey. You can help tire his inner tiger with play therapy.

What to Do:

Buy a wand with a toy bird or mouse on the end of it.

Drag the “prey” around, giving your cat a chance to stalk and hunt it.

See if he likes chasing a fast-moving toy or sneaking up on a slow-moving one, or both!

Be sure to give him opportunities to catch his prey, so he doesn’t become frustrated.

Repeat for 10-15 minutes twice a day.

Reward your cat for a great play session with treats or his dinner.

Experiment with other kinds of play, like laser pointers or even playing fetch with a toy mouse.

Remember, play relieves stress and provides exercise, mental stimulation, and a great opportunity for you and your cat to bond. Have fun!

Achoo! Living With Pet Allergies

What do you do when you’ve met your perfect match, and they give you the sniffles? If you’re experiencing allergies that are annoying, but not life-threatening, try these helpful tips before surrendering your pet:

Have you pet bathed on a weekly basis.

Special shampoos and wipes can prevent dander.

Brush your pet outside.

Ask your vet for supplements and other ways to keep your pet’s coat healthy.

Practice good housekeeping.

Vacuum frequently. This will make a big difference. Many vacuums have special filters and bags to keep allergens from escaping.

Dust often with a damp rag.

Use dust-free kitty litter and wear a mask when scooping.

Wash your bedding frequently.

Breathe fresh air.

Open your windows when possible.

Check out HEPA filters to reduce allergens in your home.

Establish a pet-free zone.

Consider making the bedroom or a home office off-limits to pets. Use an air purifier in this room.

Make sure any bedding, rugs and curtains in this room are easily and frequently washed.

Consult a doctor or allergist.

An antihistamine or other alternative may help. Or, the doctor may pinpoint your triggers and find it’s not your pet, but rather the pollen you encounter on your dog walks that’s bothering you.

Good luck! Here’s to a healthy, happy life with your pet by your side!

Behavior and Training Classes

We offer a variety of dog obedience training classes that are uniquely designed for all
of your dog’s training needs. Our classes use positive reinforcement techniques
to help bring out the best in your dog and strengthen the human-canine bond.

Learn More About Our Classes

Clinic Resources

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Clinic Resources

We are here to help navigate animal health issues!

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Blog

Stay up to date on the work we are doing to help animals.

Read More

FAQ

We are here to answer your questions!

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