Q: My dog just recently started ripping up stuff in the house, getting into the trash and generally misbehaving. He is 4 years old and has not acted this way since he was a puppy! What is happening?
A: Abrupt behavior changes in dogs can be attributed to many factors, so the behavior and the dog need to be thoroughly examined in order to find and understand the cause of the behavior.
Although medical issues are less likely in a younger dog, medical issues can make a dog act and behave differently so a thorough exam by a veterinarian is essential to rule out an underlying medical issue.
After he has been cleared medically, then you need to look at your dog’s environment. Did you move and are you now in a new house with a smaller yard? Did anything in your environment change such as adding another pet or human into the household? Is your dog getting enough exercise?
The number one reason for a dog to start misbehaving is boredom, so making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day can significantly slow down bad behavior.
It is important to look at the type of exercise you are providing as well, because just having access to a backyard during the day is not enough exercise for the average dog. Most dogs need to be taken on purposeful walks or be able to play with other dogs daily to get appropriately tired, because a tired dog is a good dog and a bored dog gets into trouble.
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If your dog does not have a medical issue and is getting appropriate exercise and daily stimulation, then you might want to consider a behavior consultation with a veterinarian. These sessions will very thoroughly look at you and your dog’s daily routine and offer some advice as to how to adjust your routine to try and change the bad behavior.
Sometimes, medications are used temporarily in conjunction with behavior modifications to try and alleviate the bad behavior. Treating behavior issues in dogs is very time consuming and challenging but with persistence your dog can once again be a good dog.
Q: I plan on traveling with my pet this holiday season and I need to know what I need to take with me to make sure everything goes smoothly.
A: Traveling during the holidays can be very stressful and adding in a pet companion can increase that stress.
Your mode of travel will be the factor that will dictate what sort of paperwork and information you need to bring with you during your travels. If you are flying, then you must check with your airline to see what their requirements are for traveling with a pet. Each airline has different rules for pet travel so getting that information prior to travel is essential.
If you are driving with your pet, it is recommended that you get a health certificate prior to travel. The chances of you getting asked to show the health certificate while driving is very low, but it is better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have one.
If you are traveling to a different country, then the requirements are dictated by the country you are traveling to and can be quite intensive. If you are traveling internationally, then I recommend that you visit the USDA/APHIS website and research what you need to travel as soon as possible.
It is also important to take your pets vaccine records with you when you travel, no matter the mode of travel, just in case you need proof of vaccination. Also, remember to take any medications with you that your pet might need as getting refills or medications while on vacation can be very challenging. Safe travels!
Dr. Julianne Miller is a Flagstaff veterinarian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.