Have you ever wondered why your cat bites you after just three pets? Or how to get your dog to chill out and stop barking? We’re uncovering the mysteries of our four-legged friends this week with help from animal behaviour expert Zazie Todd. In this episode, you’ll hear about the underlying psychology behind why our animals act the way they do, and Zazie’s humane tricks for getting your pet to behave.
Highlights from this week’s episode
On the basic rules to follow for training your dog:
I think one of the most important things that people can do with training their dogs is to use food as positive reinforcement for behaviours that you like or when you training the dog. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. One is simply that if people use aversive methods like leash jerks or yelling at the dog or shock collars, research shows that those methods risk causing fear, anxiety, aggression and a worse relationship with the owner. But unfortunately, a lot of people still use those methods some of the time. The other thing is that food is a really great way to motivate your dog. Your dog likes to work for food. There’s research that shows that dogs enjoy working for a reward. And the scientists called it the eureka effect of kind of solving a puzzle and having that satisfaction in solving the puzzle and earning a reward.
On how to readjust our pets to us leaving the house for work after quarantine:
It can really help to give them some alone time still. Ideally, you would have been doing this all through the past few weeks and months, but I think most people haven’t. But you should start to give them some alone time, even if that means you’re going outside and sitting in your car or going for a dog walk without the dog so that they get to be at home for a short period of time anyway, and they’re used to it. And then another thing is to have a routine as much as you can. So if you know that you’re going back to work, if you can switch your routine closer to that before you actually go back to work in terms of the times that day that you walk the dog and the times a day that you feed them and the times of day that you feed the cat…then that will help them because pets really like routine. It helps them to feel more comfortable and it makes things predictable and less stressful.
To hear more of Zazie’s awesome tips, we recommend listening to the full episode!