Dr. Emily Levine of AERA Writes A Pet Behavior Blog!

Dr. Emily Levine is a veterinarian who  specializes in behavior problems at Animal Emergency & Referral Associates in Fairfield NJ and she will be blogging about pet behavior topics. www.animalerc.com

Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm  Comments (12)  

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  1. This is great. I have a cat who has some issues, and it will be great if Dr. Levine is able to provide some advice and recommendations. Looking forward to what she has to say.

  2. I have a shelter dog (spaniel-spaniel mix) that steals things. Then he wants you to chase him to get it. How do I stop him from doing this?

    • The first thing to ask yourself is why is he stealing items? It sounds as if he wants to play; therefore, first and foremost, don’t chase him. If you do, you are teaching him to do this. Secondly, but just as important, you will need to initate more play with him so he doesn’t feel the need to get you to play. If there are times of the day where he is more likely to steal items to play, you need to be pre-emptive. For example, if he is more inclined to do this around 5pm, you need to initaite a game with him at 4:45pm.

      Bottom line: don’t reinforce the stealing behavior by chasing him and meet his behavioral needs by YOU intiating appropriate games/play.

      Hope this helps. If not, please comment again.

  3. I have a 3 year old 15+ lb. cat who bites, unprovoked. 4 months ago I brought home a toy poodle. Every once in a while the cat gets on top of the dog and bites, unprovoked. The dog is too small to get away quickly. I’ve tried for 3 years everything I’ve read nonlinear to stop the biting… he squints and acceepts the water bottle spray. He doesn’t startle at sounds and time out is more like nap time. I’ve sacked him on the tush open handed… that makes him stop but the behaviir still exists. Please help!

    • I wish there were a “quick tip” for this problem but there is not. The real issue is trying to understand why the cat is doing this and then implementing a comprehensive plan to address this issue. It typically takes me 2 hours to do a behavioral consult with someone just to start the initial part of the treatment process. I would encourage you to contact your nearest veterinary behaviorist ( http://www.dacvb.org) and set up a consult.

      I guess I should say that you should keep a diary of incidents to see if a pattern develops with respect to time of day, room in house etc…that may be a trigger.

  4. Thank you for your response. I do keep a log on my cats biting events, and I actually know when he is going to attack…I just don’t know what action to take to prevent this from happening. I have already used water spray from a bottle, can with coins, banging (making loud noises) but NOTHING is working.
    Please advise me in how to stop this from the happening both immediately and long term improved behavior.

    • Nothing may be working because there may be an internal drive to do this and that internal drive needs to be addressed. This is not an issue a quick tip can fix. At this stage, you need to see a veterianrian who has knoweledge about behavior.

  5. Hello Dr. Levine,
    I was wondering what you thought of the “Walk-Me Slip Harness”, or which harness you recommend (top clip is what we’d prefer).

    Also, you suggested a Thundershirt for storms; do you recommend these shirts for skittish dogs on a walk or around other people, to calm them down?

    Thank you so much for your time.


  6. I dont have a favorite harness but there are a few that I like to use. Ultimately it depends which one works best for a particular dog. I generally start with the easy walk harness by premier. I have not heard of top clip so I will need to look into this one. Thanks for info! With respect to the thundershirt, along as it is not to hot outisde, I would suggest trying it for dogs who are skittish outside.

    • Thank you so much for commenting so quickly! Very helpful.

  7. I have an 8 month old golden retriever who has been the best dog. He is so loving and has shown no signs of aggression until today. He was actually attacked by another dog the very first week I had him at 3 months while walking him on a leash and was hurt pretty badly. I was very worried that he would be scared of other dogs and would not be able to be socialized correctly, but he has never had another incident with dogs. He is walked 5 days a week with other dogs and is very friendly everytime he has interacted with dogs. We live in Brooklyn so there are dogs everywhere. We let him off the leash at the park several times a week and he is great. Today I made the mistake of leaving him tethered to a bench outside a shop while i ran in to grab something for the first time ever. As soon as I stepped inside I saw a look of panic on his face (he couldn’t see me at this point but I saw him through the window) and he tried to come to the door to find me but couldn’t because he realized he was tethered to the bench. In an instant he actually panicked and took off barking/crying running down the street and even into the street (he almost got hit by 2 cars). I chased after him but someone else ended up grabbing him. When they grabbed his leash he got very aggressive and bit the poor guy. He also defecated at this time so I know he must have been incredibly afraid. His tail was between his legs and he was shaking. Once he saw I was there and I started to pet him and comfort him he began to calm down but I am very nervous that he bit someone and became so aggressive. I’m also nervous that he panicked like he did. What do you suggest doing? Do we need to have him evaluated immediately?

    • I am so sorry your dog had that experience. Sounds heartbreaking. You should have him evaluated.

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