Category Archives: Pet Behaviour

Titbit follow-up: Bertie the Schnauzer


So training with Bertie has been pretty straight-forward, and quite easy – until the last time we had a trainging session, in which we continued lead training!

He’s not so keen to walk to heel when he knows a run on the field is just around the corner! But his owners and I have been working with him and he is getting better each time we go out. He is quite good with his recall training, but sometimes gets distracted by the 10 metre lead and decides to play with that instead!

Bertie

Initially treat motivation and reward was enough, especially with the basics; with more distractions and unwillingness to walk without pulling, I implemented a new reward – his favourite squeaky toy! This saw the change in his behaviour, as the motivation to be good for the reward was renewed. Clearly the treats are not what he’s most interested in as a reward, but play time with his favourite squeaky toy is a great reward; he is now motivated to do well again.

Don’t give up when training your pup gets tough – change tactics, change reward, change your approach – incorporate whatever positive thing works.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Titbit: Bertie the Miniature Schnauzer


So recently I’ve started clicker training with my new friend Bertie. As you can see from the photo above, Bertie is a (young) Miniature Schnauzer. He is such a lovely little pup – so friendly and so smart! But, as with all pups, quite mischievous too!

Bertie is quite fond of the clicker as he has quickly learned to associate the noise with the reward. They key in any kind of training is to find what motivates your dog to use as the reward – with Bertie it is most definitely treats! But with your dog it may be a particular toy or ball, or even just a big fuss!

Bertie responds well to the puppy treats i have been usuing. He is lovely to train as he responds really well to the clicker. He learned “down” in about 10 minutes one afternoon.

As he’s young we (his owners and I) are going to do the basic training, as well as a few fun tricks! I know Bertie will pick it up quickly.

The other week I was dog-sitting so used the opportunity to do a little recall training with Bertie on my own. It’ll be an eye opener to see how well he does this for other people; for a first go he was very good for me, and spent a good amount of time off lead as a result.

Before we left the park he made friends with a Husky cross – even if she was a little unsure of the small dog at first!

I am looking forward to doing more training with little Bertie, and seeing him become a model dog/ student! 😉


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Prepping for your Pup!


So you’ve picked your pup and soon (s)he’ll arrive, and make a lovely addition to your household!

Boston Terrier puppy

We love our pets (as per my first ever website post), and part of that love comes before we’ve even brought them home – in ensuring we are ready and able to properly care and provide for them.

Dogs are a very popular pet; preparing for an adopted adult dog and preparing for a puppy are different things. This post will focus on preparing for a brand new little puppy.

Preparation depends a lot on the breed you have chosen – the attributes belonging to the breed of dog you have chosen. Choosing a breed should tie in with your lifestyle – don’t get a breed of dog that requires what you can’t provide. For further information about specific dog breeds, pop me a message or check out my posts covering A-Z of Dog Breeds.


Food, Water and the Bowls that hold them!

Bowls should be the appropriate size and weight for the breed you have chosen; a large dog breed will require larger, heavier bowls than a small dog breed.
If your pup will grow into a tall dog, you may want to invest in bowls that will fit into a stand as your pup grows bigger! A large dog will strong, and move small items (such as food/water bowls) around easily, so heavy duty bowls may be more suitable, to prevent your pup pushing them bowls (and spilling the contents) as they eat/drink.
Small dogs are suited to smaller bowls, and medium dogs to medium bowls, etc. The weight of a smaller bowl will depend on the breed – if it’s a stronger/heftier breed (e.g. British Bulldog) you have chosen you may wish to opt for a weightier bowl, than if you have chosen a petite/lightweight breed (e.g. Italian Greyhound).
The depth of the bowl should reflect the length of muzzle and shape of the head/face of your chosen breed – a short-snouted dog will struggle to reach the bottom of a deep bowl. You can even get bowls specifically designed to keep long, floppy ears out of the dish and nice and clean!

Food will size specific and often age specific, and breed specific too with some brands. Do your research into top brands – don’t compromise with a poor diet for a bargain! There are plenty of top-notch foods out their that won’t break the bank, as well as the ones that will stretch your wallet a bit further! Depending on how quickly the dog breed you have chosen will reach maturity, will determine how long your pup should stay on puppy food – this should be indicated on the packaging (in my opinion, any food brand worth their salt will provide this information). Between 6-18 months old, your dog will have reached sexual maturity (at this point dogs often get neutered), but they may continue to grow to full size for some time after that. Small dogs tend to reach maturity closer to 6 months and are often full grown at 12-18 months; where as larger breeds tend to reach maturity later and can take 2 years to become fully grown.


Beds, crates and safe spaces

As mentioned above, the breed and size of your dog plays a big factor in getting ready for them. If you plan on crate training your pup (which I personally would recommend) think about the best option – if you plan on keeping the crate throughout your pets adult life, for travel or holidays or “just in case!” (like we did with our family dog) then buy for an adult dog! Don’t buy a little crate for the pup, buy the size you will need in the future to accommodate the size of dog you will have. In my experience, crates don’t tend to differ too significantly in price as the sizes go up, so it’s more advisable to spend a tenner or so more for the correct adult size than end up spending the X amount now and then X+ amount again in the future.
Post on Crate Training to follow.

Beds – sizing being the obvious factor here, but also take into account where your pup will be sleeping and what characteristics the breeds is known for. Some breeds are known for chewing through anything – you don’t want your pup chewing their way through nice pillow stuffing that can clog up their gut, just for the sake of wanting them to have a soft bed they can snuggle into. Dogs are brilliant and keeping themselves warm, and you’d be surprised how insulating a lining of newspaper under the bedding can be!
The bed and/or crate will be your pet’s “safe space” – this is where teaching children and others comes in. If your dog takes themselves off to their bed and/or crate, do not disturb them or harass them but leave them to it; they need to know this is their space and it is safe for them to have peace from children and from excitement and anything else.

You should be able to stroke your pet, to handle them if necessary in their bed – they shouldn’t be possessive of their “safe space” to the extent they may get aggressive. Do stroke your pet in their bed and/or crate but not for long, but often enough so they allow you into their “safe space” when necessary.


Collars, leads and “walkies!” related titbits

Get your pup used to a collar – puppy collars are gentle on the new skin and new fur of a young pup. Put the collar on for 5 minutes a day at first, and build up the amount of time over a few weeks. Once your puppy is ready for their first set of vaccinations you can try a collar on for a few hours building up as you see fit until their second set of injections, when you can take them for a walk. Before they can go out into the big, wide world you can take them around your garden or home on collar and lead (or harness or whatever you will use to walk them).

Puppy collar modelled by Tilly


Teaching your pup to walk well on a lead is essential – especially if you plan on walking with just a collar and lead. If you plan to use a harness or a gentle leader (personally I’d advise against using a Halti) get them used to this also with the collar and lead. If you do plan to use a harness, do your research and get the best type of harness for your breed – I would advise against a harness that goes round the chest and over the shoulders as this restricts movement; go for a hardness that goes from the chest, around the shoulders. Do not use a harness on breeds designed to pull, as this will encourage pulling. If you plan to use a gentle leader, ensure you fit your pet with the correct size to ensure full control and that your pet will not slip out of it. Alternatives are check chains and half-check chains – I personally would never use a check chain, and certainly if you are unsure how to set it up for safe use as you could choke your pet; half-check chains are a lot safer, as they do not require set up as they are half chain and half collar. I personally do not prefer either but if you insist on one, go with the half-check.

Gentle Leader


Once your pup is big enough for “walkies”, keep walks short and interesting until they’re big enough to walk further an explore more. If you plan to walk your dog off lead in any location, then off the lead training should be done before hand, in a safe area, to ensure your dog’s safety when out and about off the lead.
 For further information on the above section check out my Loose the Leash! post.

On a related note, for travel in the car I suggest getting a suitable harness or travel seat/carrier. Do not let your dog loose in your car whilst driving – you may have a well behaved dog, but good behaviour won’t stop your dog flying out the windscreen or into a person (or worse) in the event of a crash. My little pooch (pictured below in his car harness) weighs around 10 kg – just imagine the damage 10 kg can do loose in a car in a crash… safety first, for you and them!

Please do check out my other website posts or send me a message via any of my contact details below for further information on any of the above, or advice for walking equipment and/or on and off the lead training.

(Car) Harness – note straps go around the shoulders, not across.




All images are WordPress supplied, open source Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use.


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Titbit: Macy the Staffie

So this morning I went for a walk/ training session with a friend and her Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Macy (pictured). Sensibly, Macy is muzzled on walks as she (like many Staffie’s and other breeds) has a particular dislike toward her fellow canine. She will grumble, whine, moan, and often pull on her lead when other dogs are around – and is particularly displeased if coming into contact with another dog.

This morning Macy (and owner) learned that it is okay for other dogs to walk past (on and off the lead), and that large groups of dogs do not have to be an issue either. Macy kept her focus on the person walking her on the lead, and made very little noise or motion toward other dogs on this morning’s walk.

Macy was walked close to heel, with the led loop around the walker’s wrist, and the other hand holding part way down the lead to keep her to heel, while other dogs were around. She was walked on the opposite side of the pavement to the other dog(s), with the walker in between Macy and the other dogs. This kept Macy focusing on what the walker was doing, rather than on who else was walking past, and whether or not she wanted to eat them! 😉

When a more difficult challenge was presented – lots of dogs coming from lots of directions – Macy and her walker stood still, backed up against something (fence/ wall/ tree/ etc.) on a short lead; the walker talked to Macy to keep her focused, and not distracted by all of the other dogs.

These basic method meant for a pleasant walk and a happy Macy (and owner) – her owner feels like Macy has called her a liar due to how well behaved Macy was, with a little bit of direction.


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Common Behavioural Problems: Tail Chasing

Behaviour Banner

Tail chasing can be a harmless behaviour; however, when performed regularly, and encouraged, can become a behavioural problem (and even damaging to the health of your dog).

Tail chasing (see video) often starts when the dog is young. When you have a puppy, and it is playing and bouncing around and being adorable and silly – and it chases that waggy thing behind it, and the pup is running in circles trying to catch that wild tail! You sit watching this cute display; cooing and talking to the puppy in your excited voice (you know the one I mean)! This, to your puppy, is encouraging the behaviour.

Try, despite how adorable it can be in a young dog, to discourage this behaviour. If you don’t, this behaviour may lead to obsessive compulsive behaviour or damaging attention seeking behaviour in your adult dog. The word compulsive is used to describe the repetitive, irresistible urge to perform a behaviour. Discourage this behaviour as a puppy, and throughout the life of your dog, to reduce the likelihood of this behaviour problem occurring.

Adult dogs with obsessive tenancies can become obsessed with catching their tail, and if they do, they can obsessively chew. The behaviour does not necessarily have a purpose to it, however the dog feels the need to perform it anyway – even past the point of pain. This can be severely damaging to the health of the dog, as obsessive chewing can occur past the point of pain and cause series damage (which can be a behavioural problem in and of itself).  A dog who repeatedly performs a compulsive behaviour may find that it gets in the way of normal activity – normal life. Tail chasing becomes the primary need in the life of the dog – so much so that the dog may lose weight, due to missing meals performing the behaviour; the dog may become lethargic/ exhausted, due to staying awake more to perform the behaviour; the dog my become anxious when not performing the behaviour.

Tail Chasing - Open Source Image
Tail Chasing – Open Source Image

This type of behaviour is more likely to develop in dogs whose living conditions cause stress/ anxiety. Dogs in situations where they are stressed; which can contribute to the compulsive disorders developing. Such as; dogs who spend a lot of time tied up, or confined to living in small areas, or a dog experiencing social issues – long separation from a companion or discord in social relationships, for example. Dogs with the opportunity to perform normal dog behaviour, or do not get the chance to socialise with people and other animals can succumb to obsessive, compulsive behaviour. Alternatively, there could be an underlying medical issue causing the behaviour.

Seek advice from your vet if you suspect that your dog has an obsessive behaviour – your vet may refer you to a dog behaviourist. Your vet will also be able to tell you if the behaviour is being caused by a health issue, and treat any health problems caused by the behaviour.


Image is open source, Google images. The video is a YouTube video, from the search result of “dog tail chasing”. The image and video are NOT my own.


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Adapting – Adaptil

So my Dad got a new job… in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He moved there, and has been flying back and forth to keep seeing us, until everything is sorted our end too; my Mum and sister will shortly follow with the dog, but I’m staying put in England in a place of my own. I have adapted fairly well (even if I have been without internet for the best part of a month – hence the lack of posts); and I’m sure my family will adapt too, and eventually the dog.

Bedlington Terrier
Barney

The first thing we thought of for the dog, for Barney, was the travel. He hates travel. Even 5 minutes down the road to the park or the vet, he cries and gets foul odoured stress-breath! He can’t be sedated for the flight or the ferry in case anything happens, he needs to be awake and able to get himself out of any trouble. So, the decision was made to keep him with the family to travel – so that’s the long (8 hour) ferry. He needs a kennel booking but the family can go be with him, and it’s overnight so we hope he’ll just sleep.

However to make the transition easier, we have opted to try the Adaptil* dog collar; to relieve at least some of the stress he will experience through this long journey. The Adaptil dog collar is much like the plug-in diffuser, in the sense it releases the same calming pheromone as the plug-in – just in a different way. As I said in my post about dogs and fireworks (http://alisanswers.com/index.php/2014/10/23/common-behavioural-problems-fireworks-anxiety-dogs/); the collar works with the heat of the animal; activated by the heat it releases the pheromone into the blood stream. The collar will last approximately 4 weeks, and keep working – which will also help him settle into the new house and surroundings; and should help with his preference of being the only dog, and help him to adapt to the new neighbour (Golden Retriever). Once the collar is taken off, it stops working – if taken off before the 4 weeks is up, you can keep hold of it as it’ll work again later.

It can be ordered through your vet, bought in/ ordered through a pet store, or via the internet – I bought Barney’s from Amazon.

So let’s see how well he copes – putting Adaptil to the test, helping Barney to adapt!

Adaptil Collar - from www.amazon.co.uk
Adaptil Collar – from www.amazon.co.uk

NB. Adaptil is for dogs only.

*Adaptil comes in the forms of collar, diffuser, and spray. Feliway is the cat version; coming in the forms of collar and diffuser.

Fishy Friends

It can be hard to know which fish will get along being in a communal tank. Which fish species get along, and which ones don’t. Quite often (unfortunately) the pet store or aquarium staff also do not know.

I was in a garden centre aquarium about a month ago to restock my tropical tank, and I was shocked to see some of the species that they had kept together. I was even more shocked, and saddened, to see the aggression within tanks due to the wrong species being kept together – dead fish, fin-less/ half-eaten fish, bullying within the tank… all sorts!

It is not fair on the animals in the tanks – they have nowhere to go, so it is the job of those caring for them to ensure they have optimum environments and tank mates. This starts by knowing your fish species and how to house them, and who with.

Tetra, platy, guppy, danio, corydora, swordtail, catfish, loach, molly, and goldfish species are all good communal fish (within their water types) – in my experience.

Chichlids can be kept with other chichlids – but do your research. You may keep the same species chichlids together of different sizes, or different species of similar sizes, or get a communal type (same species, varying sizes).

Barb species are communal within species. For instance you could keep several rosy barbs together, but not a tiger barb an a rosy barb together. Barbs ought to be kept alone within their types, they are not good communal fish – not good with other fish species.

Comet Goldfish
Comet Goldfish

Fighter fish on the other hand should be kept alone, except for breeding (but separated after mating has taken place). This species is very  territorial and aggressive towards other fish – definitely a solitary species.

The size, and the amount of the same species in a tank can cause issues. For instance, you can keep two tangs of the same species but they must be different sizes to avoid conflict/ aggression; or two tangs of the same size but they must be different types.

Ensure you research into fish species before acquiring them – some species may appear to be okay together or just make your tank look aesthetically pleasing together, but may not actually get on. An overstocked tank will likely cause aggression. Fish with lovely, long, flowing fins may survive happily with reduced numbers within their tank; but end up with chewed (off) fins by other fish when there is overcrowding.

Choose your communal tank species carefully. Do thorough research into every fish species, and how well your intended species will get along in a tank – taking into consideration tank size, and amount and size of fish wanted.

Common Behavioural Problems: Fireworks Anxiety (dogs)

Behaviour Banner

I have come to the conclusion over the years that I do not in fact have the pleasure of having a dog. My dog does not exhibit many stereotypical dog behaviours – has no interest in chasing cats, never plays fetch (or anything except ‘chase me!’ really…), he HATES water – jumps over puddles, sulks if he has to go out in the rain, and won’t willingly stay in the bath! You get the picture! This time of year I am always reminded of another way in which my dog is not a dog – you see my little Barney jumps at almost everything! But fireworks… He LOVES them!
*BARK*BARK*BARK*
Yea, you tell those fireworks Barney… ??!
If we do fireworks in our garden the dog is not allowed outside, for his own safety, except on a short lead. He’s only allowed to bark at the one’s he can see/ hear from a distance.

Well, most dogs are not like that. Studies have shown that around 45% of dogs exhibit fear/ anxiety toward fireworks. So, I thought I’d cover some helpful tips to help your canine friend through the fireworks this bonfire night.

1. Ensure your pet has somewhere to hide; somewhere they feel safe. Dark/ covered areas, and enclosed spaces are good as they help calm your pet and make them feel secure. Under furniture, in (clear) cupboards, an enclosed/hooded pet bed, even a cardboard box with something soft and familiar smelling inside – just ensure your pet has access to it at all times so that they can escape the moment they feel the need to.

Zzz Alfie

2. Walk your dog during daylight hours – there is no sense in attempting to walk a frightened dog when it is dark with fireworks going off left, right and centre! Walk them during the day so that they can enjoy the exercise, and you can care for them safely, indoors when the scary fireworks are lighting up the night sky. This reduces the possibility of fireworks being set off during ‘walkies’ and your dog becoming anxious/fearful.

3. By November I assume there are not many people who leave the windows and doors open around their house, due to the cold autumn evenings, however, this point still stands – ensure that windows and doors are shut, and blinds and curtains are also closed, this will help to muffle the sounds of the fireworks outside. Turning on the TV or radio (some noise) will also help to distract your pet from the noise of the fireworks.

Fireworks

4. One of the most important things you, as an owner, can do is to behave completely normal and ignore the fear/anxiety behaviour your dog is exhibiting in response to the fireworks. Unless your pet is self-harming due to the stress/anxiety or going to accidentally cause itself harm, do not give your pet attention (positive or negative) as ‘reward’ for the behaviour. If you are anxious about your pet becoming anxious, they will pick up on it and it will increase their anxiety.
This applies to any irrational fear/anxiety behaviour. If you comfort your pet every time they exhibit fear/anxiety, they feel that there is a reason they are being comforted, and that fear/anxiety is the correct response to the stimuli. Ignore your pets anxiousness; especially toward normal things that will not do them harm – such as the vacuum cleaner, recycling bins, furniture (yes, our pets can become anxious easily over mundane things).

5. Do not leave your pet alone, if you can help it, to ensure their safety. Ensuring your dog is microchipped (and wearing a collar and tag) will be beneficial if your dog somehow escapes.

6. Toys and chews are helpful for distracting your dog and keeping them occupied during the fireworks. A new toy, their favourite toy, a treat toy, a rawhide chew, their favourite chewy treat – whatever will be the best distraction for you.

Barney nomming

7. Adaptil supply a great pheromone diffuser, spray,  and collar for dogs. There are also Adaptil non-pheromone tablets.
The diffuser is a plug in and emits the pheromone throughout your house and works to soothe and comfort your dog.
The collar needs to be in close contact with the skin at all times, the body heat from the animal stimulates the collar to work.
The spray should not be sprayed on the animal! The spray can be sprayed on bedding, in kennels, in the car… ensure you and your pet stay away from the sprayed area after it has been sprayed, for 15 minutes (spray it 15 minutes prior to your dog needing the affects) to allow the spray to take affect and not cause harm to anyone.
NB. Adaptil is specially designed for use with dogs only.

Fear of fireworks doesn’t just affect dogs; many pets are scared of fireworks – the noises and the colours. Most of these tips can be applied to your pet species.

If you are concerned about your pet, seek the advice of your vet and/ or an animal behaviourist.


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information or advice regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either contact me through this site or leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
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Ali Holloway – BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Common Behavioural Problems: Spraying (cats)

Behaviour Banner

Spraying – a form of communication, territorial marking, to signal mating status, indicator of health, and to show dominance. Spraying is a naturalnormal behaviour. It becomes a problem when it becomes excessive, and often in inappropriate places.

Cats will back up to a vertical surface (wall, table/chair leg, couch, door, bed, television…) twitch tail, and spray urine against the vertical surface.

Potential Causes:-
(a) Territorial Behaviour:
– another cat brought into a single-cat household
– a multi-cat household
– moving house/ getting an extension
– redecorating
– new cat(s) in the neighbourhood/territory

(b) Anxiety
– lack of owner attention (for attention)
– jealousy of other pet(s)/children/etc.
– change in routine
– social stressors
– environmental stressors
– new/unusual, (fairly) consistent smells (even as simple as new air freshener)
– negative encounters
– not enough litter trays for amount of cats

(c) Underlying Medical Problem
– consult vet ASAP
– urine crystals
– cystitis
– urolithiasis; struvites (urinary tract stones)
– other…

Cat Zoe
Happy Cat

Treatment Options:
Firstly, determine whether or not this is being caused by a medical issue, and your vet will be able to determine the best course of treatment. If there is no medical issue, then it is likely to be a behavioural issue. Successful treatment of this requires identification of the cause, and fixing of the cause or acceptance (from the animal) of the cause.

If you have a multi-cat household, to reduce the likelihood of unwanted spraying behaviour (and unwanted defecation), ensure that every cat has its own litter tray, and that there is a spare litter tray (or multiple spares for a larger group of cats). Ensure litter trays are in quiet places, not busy or open places; cats like privacy when going to the toilet.

Neutering is a big help, but will not eliminate the problem. Spraying is less common in neutered cats, but it will not prevent spraying. Males also spray more than females, but females do spray.

Feliway pheromone diffuser plug ins and sprays are also available. The release of pheromones helps to calm and reassure, especially in multi-cat households; it can relieve tension between cats.  The pheromone release relieves stress and can help stop your cat spraying; stop the behavioural issue.

Acceptance of the cause; teaching your cat(s) to accept a new addition – whether this is another cat, a dog, a rabbit (i.e. another pet), or a new baby or even just a new couch. You can help this by not comforting your cat when it initially freaks out. Do not berate your cat for this either. Just act normal, like the new addition is completely normal. If you comfort your cat, (s)he will believe (s)he’s being comforted because there is a reason to be freaked out and anxious about this new addition. Normal behaviour on your part will help your cat realise (s)he can behave normally despite this new addition too.

Multi-cat household
Multi-cat household

Cats that get along are less competitive, and far less likely to spray. You can encourage cats to get along by playing with your cats together; giving each one equal attention. Feed them together, and try to encourage them to sleep near to each other – not necessarily sharing the same bed, but within the same room. Provide differently levels for your cats within the home; the more dominant cat will sit higher up than the subordinate(s) – being able to show dominance/ hierarchy in this way is likely to reduce other dominant displays.

Try to keep routine, at least for your cat even if not for yourself – because, let’s face it, we quite often need to mix up our routine; but cats, no, cats like routine. They will patrol the same bit of their territory at (roughly) the same time, daily.  They will sleep, hunt, etc. at (roughly) the same times each day. Feeding, grooming/brushing, and other activities your cat requires you for should be kept in some kind of routine for your cat too.

Although spraying is a very obvious behaviour; know your cat(s) and learn to tell when (s)he is acting out of the ordinary so as to pick up on behavioural issues early.


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
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Common Behavioural Problems: Feather Plucking

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Birds range from the little songbirds in your garden, to the powerful birds of prey, and various kinds of flightless birds – they certainly vary a lot between various species. They have been popular as pets as early as the 1700’s. Christopher Columbus brought 2 Cuban Amazon Parrots back from his travels in the 1490’s.

We all love our pets, no matter how they became introduced into our history, and our individual lives. The sad things about domestic life for our pets, is that sometimes it can result in behavioural problems; without always knowing the cause.

Grooming is a normal, natural behaviour – in birds known as ‘preening’. Feather plucking is when this normal, natural behaviour becomes obsessive, and done to excess. Birds may do this to themselves, or to others in their group.

Possible Causes:
– Nutritional deficiencies/ unbalanced nutrition
– Poor Diet
– Food sensitivity/ intolerances/ allergies
– Disease
– Itchy skin/ skin problems
– Frayed feathers
– Boredom (insufficient stimulation)
– Dirty environment
– Wrong environment

Moluccan Cockatoo
Moluccan Cockatoo

Possible Solutions:
–  Change in diet
–  Allergy tests (steering clear of the allergen)
– Food supplements
– Regular vet checks
– Stimulation: toys, interaction, treats/fruit/veg
– Plenty of light; not left in the dark
– Clean environment
– Sufficient space (but not too much) per bird
– Suitable type of environment; cage (tall or wide), paddock, by water, dirt bath, places to perch (at different levels)

Geese
Geese


Toys:

Ensure these are appropriate for your bird; for the species. Stimulating toys with bells and pieces that move are good for birds such as parrot types.
Mop/ rope toys (without loops!) are good for occupying birds with a pulling/ preening activity – keeping feather preening to a normal and safe amount.
Some birds like toys that look like birds, and this can be beneficial; others will be stressed by this kind of toy – know your bird and what they like, so as to best care for your pet.


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