Common Pet Problems

"I'm moving & can't take him with me."

There are a number of ways to approach this dilemma. You need to reassure a prospective landlord that your pets will not damage his property or be a nuisance to the neighbors.

Start looking for a new home well in advance of the date you will need to move. This leaves you with time to find a suitable home that will allow you to keep your furry family members.

Make sure that your pet is spayed or neutered. This eliminates many of the property damaging aspects of animal ownership like territorial spraying by male cats, indoor leg lifting by male dogs, and messy heat cycles and offspring produced by unspayed females.

Offer the prospective landlord an extra security deposit for animal-related damage. This money is returned to you when you end your tenancy if the pets do not damage the house.

Give the landlord letters of recommendation from your veterinarian stating that you keep your pets vaccinated and healthy, from your Animal Control Officer stating that you have not been a source of complaints in your current neighborhood, from your current neighbors stating that you have been a good pet owning neighbor, from your current landlord stating that you took good care of his property while living there.

Have your dog obedience trained and earn a Canine Good Citizen degree offered by the American Kennel Club. A well-mannered dog is a joy to live with and much easier to move with than a destructive monster.

The Canine Good Citizen test, offered by many local kennel clubs, shows that your dog has basic obedience and manners, and is accepted by many housing authorities as proof of responsible pet ownership.

" My new girlfriend is allergic to my pet."

There are several methods of alleviating allergic reactions from animal dander:

  • Don't let the cat or dog sleep in the bedroom of the allergic person.
  • Bathe the animal frequently, using a mild pet shampoo and conditioner to avoid irritating the pet's skin.
  • Brush the pet, outdoors, frequently to remove shedding and loose fur.
  • Install a HEPA filter on your furnace, and in your vacuum cleaner.
  • Vacuum and dust with damp, clean cloth frequently, and damp mop floors often.
  • Limit carpeting in living areas. Wood or tile floors don't trap dust, pollen or dander.
  • Talk to your doctor for advice on other methods such as shots or medications to control symptoms.

"We just got a new puppy or kitten & the old pet won't adjust to it."

Consider the possibility of rejection and decide how you are going to deal with introducing a new pet before you bring the new pet home. Think of your current pet's personality and lifestyle. Has this pet always been an "only pet"? Has it been well-socialized with other animals, perhaps in obedience classes or playgroups? If you have serious doubts, decide whether it is really worth it to bring in a new animal. If you decide to go ahead, introduce a new dog to the original dog in a neutral setting such as a park, or fenced area where the two dogs have room to maneuver and greet each other in natural dog style. Don't stand too close or keep a tight leash on the dogs as this will agitate the dogs and transmit tension. Expect and allow posturing, raised hackles and some minor pushing as long as it is not erupting into a fight. Praise both dogs for calm behavior. Short, supervised meetings will help the dogs establish their pack order in a neutral, non-threatening environment and should ease the transition to the new home situation for both dogs.

A closed door should separate cats for a day, allowing them to sniff each other's scent under the door and get used to each other in this way. Trade places with each other after the first day so the cats can sniff the other's areas. Watch for territory spraying in male cats, and leg lifting in male dogs! Sometimes even neutered males will establish their presence in this manner if not watched. Minor hissing skirmishes are to be expected and should be allowed as long as they do not escalate into a battle. Following the introductions, pets should be separated when unsupervised to avoid potentially injurious arguments over territory, toys or dominance. Gradually allow more time together until you are sure the pets are completely settled.

"We're having a baby."

Now is not the time to bring a new dog into the household!!! Parents sometimes think that a baby should have a "friend" to grow up with and to be a childhood companion. Wrong!! Infants and toddlers are unable to understand the concept of causing pain to others. They grab and grip and chew on anything they can reach, and if that something is a dog or cat they can cause the pet to react with a bite or scratch that injures the child. Parents dealing with the stresses of a new baby do not have the time or energy to properly socialize, train and monitor a new dog or puppy. Children should be at least 3 years old before a new dog is introduced to the family, or older if the child is very active or difficult to control. Dogs should NEVER be left alone with small children and infants.

"I can't afford to spay / neuter my cat or dog"

Spaying or neutering is the most important health care that you can offer your pet. If your pet is not of champion breeding stock and part of a serious, well-thought-out breeding program, that pet should be spayed or neutered by the age of 6 months. There are organizations, some national in scope, others more local in nature, that offer reduced cost and sometimes even no cost spay/neuter vouchers for lower-income families and individuals. There are a number of local programs that assist owners in accomplishing this. Contact your local Humane Society or Animal Control Department for information on financial assistance programs. In the Cape Cod area the Animal Rescue League of Boston has a low cost Spay Waggin that visits the Hyannis, Dennis and Eastham areas once a month. For more information call 1877-590-SPAY (7729) or email Spay Waggin The MSPCA offers the SNAP program. For more information contact them at MSPCA website.

"We just can't handle his behavior anymore!"

Before you decide to surrender a pet with behavior problems, ask yourself these questions:

If I can't handle this behavior, will someone who is not already emotionally attached to the pet want to deal with this problem?

Most likely they will not, or they may deal with the problem in an inhumane manner. If you have a behavior problem with your pet, consult with a professional trainer. To find a good one, contact local veterinarians, and your Animal Control Officer, and ask whom they recommend. Call the local branch of the American Kennel Club whether you own a purebred dog or a mix. These clubs often sponsor obedience training for the public. Some pet supply chains such as Petsmart offer training classes, and many local animal shelters offer courses or recommend trainers. Contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) for a list of members in your area. This organization encourages positive, humane training methods and offers continuing education seminars for dog trainers. When you have several names, call each one and ask if you can watch a class or training session before you commit yourself. Ask for references, and call them! Don't be afraid to ask questions! There are some excellent dog trainers out there, and there are some horrible ones! A good trainer will meet with you and your dog and provide an evaluation of what is needed to give you a well - mannered dog. A good trainer uses a lot of positive reinforcement and frequently uses food as a reward for good behavior. It is very important that you pick someone who can not only teach your dog in a kind manner, but who can also work with you and teach you how to teach your dog, and help you turn your monster into a friend and lifelong companion. Behavior problems are the number one reason why dogs over the age of 6 months are surrendered to animal shelters nationwide.

Is this behavior dangerous?

You could be liable for injuries caused by a dog given or sold to another family by you if you are aware of aggression or another serious behavior problem and you do not disclose that information to the new owner, or to the animal shelter if you choose to surrender the dog. Behaviors such as food and / or toy guarding and possession issues can lead to a serious bite injury if not handled correctly. Destructive chewing habits, separation anxiety issues and housebreaking problems could result in the dog being relegated by its new family to a chain in the back yard for the rest of its life. You are not doing your dog a favor by sending him to a new family without disclosing important information about your dog's personality and temperament to the new owners. You are simply forcing another family to deal with the same painful decision that you should have made, and possibly endangering others.