Thursday, March 3, 2011
While fighting is scary to watch and dangerous for the combatants, it’s extremely common. Here are some ways to stop battles before casualties occur.
-Don’t get in the middle: Dogs and cats in the heat of battle aren’t discriminating about what (or whom) they bite. So keep your hands clear. If you absolutely have to reach into a fight -- to prevent your pet from being seriously injured -- throw a heavy blanket over the combatants. This will protect your hands when you go for the grab.
-Go deep and loud: When you see a fight brewing, interrupt the aggression with the loudest, deepest ‘No!’ you can muster. Pets associate a low-pitched voice with a threatening growl and take it more seriously than they would a high pitched command.
-Give them a blast: If the squabble occurs in the vicinity of a garden hose, giving the combatants a shot of water will help quench their ardor. Cooling them off with a pitcher of water will serve the same purpose.
-Sit out minor brawls: When dogs or cats meet, you can expect a certain amount of posturing, hissing, growling or tussling. In most cases it’s just their way of becoming acquainted. Chances are the ruckus will calm down in a minute or two.
-Organize get-togethers: To help your pet understand that a strange pet isn’t always hostile, it helps to let them be around their peers as often as possible. Vets recommend introducing pets to others of their kind after their first set of vaccinations, around 12 weeks of age.
-Plan meetings ahead of time: When introducing two (or more) four-legged strangers, try to do it at a time of day when they’re naturally feeling peaceful. After a big meal or when the animals are sleepy or after a long walk or play period is best.
-Introduce them on neutral ground: Rather than bringing animals together at home, where territorial feelings run high, let them meet in a neutral place such as a park.
-Neuter them young: Fighting is greatly reduced in males that have been neutered. Even in females, spaying can reduce some of the aggressive tendencies that lead to fighting.
-Keep him under control: Always have your dog on a leash when you’re in public. If a fight seems to be brewing, you can quickly pull him out of danger.
-Keep the leash low: Although it is natural to pull on the leash when another dog approaches, this pulls your dog’s head into fighting posture. Keep the leash low and loose, so this unintentional body language doesn’t cause the other dog to attack.
-Respect the hierarchy: To prevent fights in the family, older dogs generally should be given more respect and attention than the young upstarts. The older dog gets greeted first, gets groomed first and gets his treat first.
-For CATS only: You’ll want to keep your cat indoors. The average life span of an outdoor cat is 1 to 2 years; for an indoor cat, it’s 12 to 14 years.