Does your pet have behavioral issues? It might be genetic… But animal behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman says 85% of our pet’s behavior problems come from life experiences – which can often be traced back to us. Here’s how we could be driving our pets nuts:
First: We don’t exercise them. Some people think cats don’t need exercise. And some owners think leaving their dog in the backyard is enough. But animals that zoom around the house – or chew our shoes – are trying to tell us they have pent up energy. Dr. Dodman says dogs and cats need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and some dogs need a lot more.
Another reason your dog might be going crazy: They went gluten-free when you did. The problem is, dogs have no trouble digesting grains. And grain-free dog food can actually contain too much protein. In a study, dogs with behavioral issues were fed kibble with varying protein levels. The result: Dogs on low-protein kibble became less aggressive, while those eating high-protein food got worse. That’s because meat doesn’t contain enough dietary tryptophan, which triggers calming chemicals in your dog’s brain. That’s not to say that your dog should carb-load. Just like people, dogs need a balanced diet. But if your dog has normal GI function and isn’t itchy while eating a diet that contains gluten, he’s not gluten intolerant.
The final reasons our pets freak out: Because we’re stressed. Have you ever noticed that your high-strung friend has a high-strung dog? And that your mellow friend has a mellow dog? That’s because our pets pick up on our moods and reflect them. They may not understand why we’re anxious, but they’re very good at reading body language. And if we’re calmer, they will be too.