CINCINNATI – I thought I’d begin my first column for 2015 sharing some of my favorite New Year’s Resolutions when it comes to pets and pet care.
1. I will stop labeling my pet with such descriptions as dumb, stubborn, bad, mad at me, or jealous as those words will not help me to solve the behavior problems those adjectives describe. In fact, using those words may actually impede me from getting to the root of the problem since they may become self-fulfilling prophecies.
2. I will stop blaming my pet for his unwanted behavior and start looking at the behavior in terms of its function to my pet. I will remind myself that no behavior happens in a vacuum and is always influenced by the environment. Behavior is a tool my pet uses to get something of value or move away from something negative.
3. Knowing that behaviors which get my pet something of value will be repeated, I will pay attention to what I want my pet to do more of, and offer positive reinforcement upon seeing those behaviors.
4. I will pay attention to how my pet communicates using body language behaviors to let me know when he is happy, aroused, afraid or uncomfortable, tired, angry, or playful so that I can help him get his needs met in acceptable ways.
5. I will give my pet plenty or appropriate outlets for exercising his mind and body in acceptable ways; and I will include myself in some of those choices.
Lisa Desatnik spends something quality “shoulder time” with Chester. That’s Dreyfuss perching on her hand. (Photo courtesy of L. Desatnik)
6. I will practice my timing so that when I teach my pet what I want him to do, my lesson will be clear and easier to understand.
7. I will incorporate training into my everyday life. Knowing that my pet is constantly learning by the consequences of his behavior, I can teach him that choices I want him to make are the best choices.
8. I will learn something new, even something simple, every month because an eager student makes for an eager mentor and teacher. Learning is more fun when you do it together – your pet and you.
9. I will appreciate my pet’s unconditional love and will never take that for granted.
10. I will make it my goal to make life fun and enriching for my pet.