One of the most common phone calls we get is from owners with an adolescent or young adult pets who are misbehaving. Upon further enquiry the misbehaviour has been going on for months, sometimes even longer. So why is the behaviour suddenly annoying enough to call for help, and why does it take so long?
Speaking with owners, we have found that many people hold the belief that pets go through naughty phases which they will grow out of. With this belief in mind, most people live through the frustration of a naughty puppy, kitten, or parrot, then transition into the crazy teenage age, complain about their “hormonal” pet, and then finally reach the conclusion that nothing has changed and they can’t put up with it anymore.
While it is true that our pets do change as they grow up, we are still always in a position to be able to positively influence their behaviour. We need to get out of the habit of waiting for something to become a problem and then reacting, and into the habit of knowing how we do want our pets to behave and taking a proactive approach to help them reach those behavioural goals.
We always remind people that if you do nothing, nothing will change. If your puppy is chasing your pant legs as you walk it may be “just a puppy thing”, but you can teach your puppy to move beside you, carry a toy, or sit for attention rather than waiting to have a 7 month old dog heeling you as you walk. Your biting budgie may be “hormonal”, but teaching her to station or step onto a perch will save your finger and maintain your relationship much better than keeping her cage-bound hoping she will grow out of it.
One look at any shelter or rescue website is enough to make you realise that they are full to the brim of young animals that didn’t “grow out of it”. Be proactive in helping your pet to succeed as a member of your family, and train smart, not tough!