Pampered Pets or Stressed-Out, Over-Burdened Companions?

High end pet services have exploded in the last few years.  Pricey organic, “all natural”, grain and gluten free diets, doggie spas, high-end boarding and day care facilities that include pools and private “suites” are just a few examples.  Cat services lag a bit behind but more attention is being paid to the diets and lifestyles of our feline friends.

But have all these offerings really improved the quality of life for our dogs and cats?  These two species evolved and were domesticated in very different environments than they currently live, yet we expect them to easily adapt to whatever lifestyles we opt to bring them into.

Most of the pet dogs and cats living in western cultures today are expected to adapt to some or all of the following:

  • a life indoors with us for extended periods of time (some never getting outside),
  • relieving themselves when and where we want them to, often on surfaces and in locations that are quite different from their natural tendencies
  • to tolerate significant periods of time alone with limited physical and mental stimulation
  • to tolerate close contact with members of their own or other species they are not related to and may not like
  • to remain passive in the face of social signals and behaviors from people that intimidate or frighten them
  • and MORE.

A pet’s inability to do these things risks harsh treatment, a decrement in well-being, abandonment or euthanasia.  Our environment and human lifestyles are likely to continue to change at a rapid pace in the future. Are our pets capable of adapting to those changes or are we already asking too much of them?

What can we do to maximize their ability to cope with these challenging lifestyles and expectations?  Are the natural histories of dogs and cats and their behavioral needs too often ignored when we look for solutions for behavior problems?

Has our focus become too narrow as owners look for medications and putting behaviors “on cue”?  Should we instead – or at least in addition – be looking at the bigger picture of our pets’ habitats and how many behaviors result from adaptations to the environments in which animals find themselves? Does taking a “diagnostic” approach to behavior problems limit, or even skew, our understanding of the motivation for and solutions to pet behavior problems?

We’ll Chat about these issues and more with a stellar line up of CAABs who really need no introduction, with the amazing depth and breadth of experience they’ll bring to weighing in on these thorny questions.

Join us as we welcome:

Dr. Amy Marder – Former Director of the Center for Shelter Dogs and developer of the Match-Up II Shelter Dog Rehoming Program, which is one of the only behavioral assessment programs undergoing scientific validation.

Dr. Patricia McConnell – international speaker and author of thirteen books on training and behavior, including The Other End of the Leash translated in twelve languages.

Dr. Steve Zawistowski– who spent 26 years as a senior executive at the ASPCA.  “Dr. Z” is a well-known speaker on a number of animal shelter and animal welfare issues.

The Chat is completed. Links to replays are at the bottom of the page.

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