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  • Emily Snyder

Who owns who? The pet dilemma

By: Emily Snyder, Contributor

An old teacher of mine, Margaret Curtin, walked inside and saw disaster: the dishwasher was trashed and dirty dishes splattered the floor. Upon further inspection, she found his torn Prong collar and a face of guilt. He whimpered and whined, then walked inside his kennel as he was unable to handle such embarrassment. After a brief scolding, she made him bear a sign of shame saying, “I was licking the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. It was full. I got my Prong collar stuck on the bottom rack. I dumped the whole thing on the clean kitchen floor when I ran away. It’s not the first time. #notashamed #unfortunately #neverlearning.”

“They’re so cute!” A thought that crosses people’s heads when they see an animal, but animals are no walk in the park, both physically and mentally. A casual day of cleaning the house, and you’re finally finished, only to have it chewed up or urinated on the next day. Spot a cute collar, cage or accessory? Yep, that’ll be $30, plus taxes, and they aren’t optional.

Margaret isn’t alone in these predicaments, and several others face the same dilemma: “You don’t own the pet. The pet owns you.” We understand your pain of having to cater to their every command for 24 hours, seven days a week and I’ve laid out my best tips to help you handle their next tantrum.

  1. Reinforcement and reward: If you want them to remember your commands, repeat what you say back to them. Have them practice the action/command given and reward them when they do it right.

  2. Psychological evaluation: Animals can experience trauma and suffer mental disorders much like people. If you believe your pet’s behavior has an underlying factor, consider seeking help from a professional.

  3. Negative consequence: Every time they perform an unwanted behavior, take away a privilege. Examples: No treats, toys or playtime. Be mindful of this method, and do not restrict their basic needs.

  4. D.I.Y and clearance/coupons: Pets are not cheap — the various items you purchase for them daily add up. Stores offer sales as promotional work, and if you check when items are leaving or “out of season,” you’ll find they’re more likely to be on sale.

As a fellow pet-owner of numerous dogs throughout my life, I’ve lived with and dealt with the same problems you have. People see those cute doll-like eyes that beg you to spoil them and are clueless to the behind-the-scenes drama they’ve caused you. We know that a well-behaved pet makes a happy life, so take the time to implement training and use these tips as a guide.

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