Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Reading Your Cat’s Body Language

Is your cat trying to tell you something?

When she exposes her stomach does she want you to rub it?

Which signals mean ‘stay away’?

cat lying on ground

Their Eyes

A cat’s pupil will dilate when they are scared or surprised. A Vet knows that seeing dish-like pupils in a bright examination room means to beware. A constricted pupil could also mean your cat is feeling aggressive or tense.

Like a human’s, a cat’s pupil will react to light by dilating in darkness and constricting in well-lit areas, so it is important to take this in to consideration when reading your cat.

Your cat holding eye contact could be communicating a challenge, whereas slow blinking, having her eyes half closed, or sleeping is a sign that your cat trusts you. In a social setting, cats will often look at someone who is not paying them any attention.

cat looking up

Their Tail

A cat will often use their tail to communicate a message. A happy or confident cat will have their tail pointed straight up, whereas a tail pointed down could mean that they are feeling threatened or scared.

A wagging or thumping tail does not indicate the same feeling in a cat as a dog. If your cat’s tail is moving rapidly, it indicates they could be feeling agitated. On the other hand, a slow moving tail is a sign that your cat is trying to make up their mind about something.

When your cat is fluffing up their tail, they are most likely feeling threatened or in danger and is trying to make theme self look as big as possible. A cat with a fluffed tail is best left alone until they calm down.

cat lying down

Their Ears

Ears turned forward suggests that your cat is in a happy and playful mood, whereas if they are turned back they are likely to be feeling anxious or nervous. If their ears are flat against their head, they are feeling aggressive and possibly ready for a fight.

If their ears are standing straight up tall, your cat is alert and at attention. This will often happen when they hear an unfamiliar sound.

cat looking up

Their Body

A cat spread out on their back could be an invitation for you to rub their belly, however use caution when approaching them. A cat will also assume this position when they are feeling defensive, and may be accompanied by extended claws.

If they begin to attack your hand as you approach them, the best thing to do is to freeze. A cat is hard-wired to pounce on moving objects, and keeping still for a moment before retreating is the best thing to do.

cat lying on couch

It is important to keep in mind that these are only guidelines, and may differ from cat to cat. Nobody will know your cat as well as you.

Is your dog being territorial? Getting aggressive around other people/pets? Find out why this may be and how to stop it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Training a Territoriality Aggressive Dog – Back to Basics

Is your dog being territorial? Getting aggressive around other people/pets?

Dogs that are territoriality aggressive can be very dangerous and a huge liability for homeowners. If the behaviour goes unchecked it is likely to increase in severity and can put visitors and other pets at risk. 

Maybe it’s time to think about some basic training to help the well-being of your dog and for the safety of yourself and others.

dog snarling

Why is My Dog Territorial?

Like most creatures, dogs are territorial by nature. It is common for dogs to inherently guard resources and possessions deemed valuable to them. 

Some dogs are genetically inclined to have a greater aggressive tendency. This is due, in great part, to selective breeding for dogs that are best suited to guard us and our property.

Other underlying causes of territorial aggression can occur due to the lack of adequate, early socialization or handling exercises and underlying medical issues. Since there is most often a genetic tendency to territorial aggression, the goal is not to cure the problem but to control and manage it in an effort to decrease severity of possible aggressive displays.

dog with ears down


The subtlety or severity of aggressive displays or behaviours in response to a real or perceived threat can vary on a wide scale and include some or all of the following signs:
Freezing when approached
Turning away
Lifting of the lips

dog snarling


Territorial behaviour can become very dangerous if it turns aggressive. These tips and suggestions for training your territorial dog are a great starting point. 

1. Basic Obedience

Basic obedience lays the groundwork for troubleshooting problem behaviour, and basic commands can be incredibly useful in a tense situation. For example, if your dog has mastered the art of “sit-stay,” you can use it to keep them calm in another part of the house when someone knocks on the door.

Pet gates and a crate will also help as you’re working on the command. Even if you’ve already been through basic obedience training with your dog, a refresher will help both of you focus and bond. Aim for a few five-minute sessions each day, and be sure to make training worth it by offering rewards.

2. Recall 

Recall, or coming when called, is among the most important things you can teach your pup, and for a territorial dog for that matter. You should be able to work on recall anywhere, but if your dog is especially territorial in the yard, indoors is a good starting point.

Again, be sure to reward them for getting it right! You want your dog to know that good things come to those who come when called. 

3. Nothing in Life is Free 

Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can reinforce good behaviour by practising “Nothing in Life is Free” training.

It’s time to re-train your dog (and yourself) that all resources come from you. Again, start small: require your dog to “sit” before you reward them by putting the leash on to take a walk, or sustain a “down” command for a few minutes before being released to eat their dinner. 

Asking your dog to work for everything they want is a positive, safe way to remind them that you control the resources, and can greatly reduce guarding behaviour.

4. Quiet Down 

If you find that your dog barks when they sense a threat to their territory, teach them a command that means “be quiet.”

Don’t wait for your dog to be stuck in a barking loop in the backyard, before teaching them to calm down.

Start in a peaceful environment such as indoors, and gradually introduce more distractions as your dog becomes better at calming on cue. The idea is to reinforce a calm emotional state. This is a step beyond the basics, but when practised and reinforced, a “be quiet” command can help an anxious, territorial dog relax.

Training can go a long way, but while you’re still working on these basics, it’s up to you to reduce potential prompts. This may mean closing the curtains, feeding in a private place, and gating your dog away from the front door when guests are expected. Good luck!

dog sitting on lead

Has your pet ever done something out of the ordinary and you’ve wondered whether or not you should tell your vet?Find out when you should seek your vet.