Training and

Fear of thunderstorms

Dogs can hear four times better than humans and instinctively react to loud and sudden sounds by running away and seeking refuge. Storms can arouse anxiety in cats as they too seek the quietest and darkest places to hide.


  • Make sure your pets are identified with a microchip and collar tag. Ensure your contact details are up-to-date.
  • Remain calm during a storm and go about your activities as normal. Your pet takes cues from you.
  • If your dog is fearful during the storms, don’t pat or cuddle him or her, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour.
  • If a storm is predicted, take your dog for a long walk beforehand to help him or her relax.
  • Give your cat or dog a safe space to retreat to, such as a crate or bed.
  • Try to de-sensitise your pet to storms by playing a CD with storm sounds.
  • If you know your dog or cat is afraid of storms or fireworks and is at risk of fleeing, the best thing you can do is stay home.
  • Signs of fear may include seeking refuge by running under the bed or onto your lap.
  • Signs of a phobia may include pacing, panting, whining, trying to escape, or being destructive.
  • Consult your vet for advice specific to your pet.


When a dog barks, cries or whines during the night it is usually a cry for attention. Being in an unfamiliar environment for the first time can be distressing, confusing and lonely for your newly adopted dog, but it’s important not to reinforce these behaviours.

Ensure your dog has a warm and comfortable place to sleep, such as a bed in the laundry or bathroom.

Do not scold your dog when he or she barks at night. This can encourage the behaviour and increase the dog’s anxiety. Initially you may experience sleepless nights, but it is better to ignore any barking or whining. As long as your dog is comfortable, he or she will come to no harm.

If the barking or whining is persistent, quietly make your way to the closed door and give a firm command of “quiet” through the door. Do not open the door until your dog is calm and quiet. When this occurs, open the door and give your dog lots of praise and cuddles.

Your dog will associate a reward with whatever he or she has just been doing, so be sure to wait until your dog is calm and quiet before giving any attention.

Your dog will soon learn to sleep through the night. If the barking continues, please contact your vet or dog behaviour specialist for advice.

Scratching furniture

Give your cat at least one scratching post: Choose a sturdy scratching post that is as tall as your cat when it stands on its hind legs. Make sure the post is made from rough, coarse material, such as fiber rope. You can make your own scratching post by following our simple guide.

Teach your cat to use the scratching post: Place the post next to the furniture that your cat has been scratching. Make the post more inviting by rubbing catnip on it or spraying it with catnip oil. Sit your cat in front of the post and give lots of praise whenever he or she reaches out and uses it.

Use your authoritative voice: If you catch your cat scratching your furniture, give a sharp “No”, pick up the cat and place him or her next to the scratching post. Your cat will realise that your furniture is a no-go zone and to scratch the post instead.

Be patient and understanding, as your cat is only relying on its instincts. Encourage your cat to scratch its post as often as possible. After repeated practice, he or she should leave the furniture alone.


Barking usually falls into three main categories: boredom, reactivity and anxiety.


Give your dog an activity so he or she is happy and quiet while you are away. 

  • Have three groups of toys (8-10 toys per group) and rotate them every morning on a three-day cycle. This will ensure that your dog doesn’t get bored of playing with the same toys.
  • Make feeding time last longer by filling a treat ball with food so your dog will spend hours digging out the treats.
  • Give your dog a bone two times a week.



Reactive barking is when a dog barks at someone who is walking past or approaching the dog’s home. This type of barking is an alarm call.

Avoid yelling at your dog, as he or she will simply think you are joining in. You want to convey that everything is OK, so  tell your dog in a matter-of-fact tone, “It’s OK.” If the barking stops, praise your dog.

If the barking continues, take the dog away from the window or fence without speaking. Allow the dog to return only when he or she is calm and quiet. If it happens again, repeat the process. Persistence is the key.


Your dog worries about you when you leave the house, causing anxiety levels to soar when he or she sees you getting ready to leave, or is expecting you to return.

When you leave:


  • Stuff a KONG toy with food treats and make a fuss of the process so the dog is distracted.
  • Leave the dog in an area with a safe space, such as a bed or kennel.
  • Leave a radio playing in the house.
  • Don’t make a fuss with cuddles and pats.


When you come home:


  • Ignore the dog and make the KONG toy the focus of your attention.
  • Check if your dog has eaten the treats. If not, scatter them around to encourage your dog to eat.
  • If the treats have been eaten, praise your dog. This will then make the KONG the focus.


The idea is to preoccupy your dog with the toy when you leave and come home.

Keep in mind:


  • Dogs bark for a reason.
  • Identify the reason to find the solution.
  • It takes time to teach your dog that excessive barking is not acceptable.
  • Be patient and consistent. A dog can’t follow rules if they change or are not clear.
  • If you bully the dog into being quiet by shouting or striking, you may create a bigger behaviour problem.


This is general advice only. Please consult your veterinarian or dog trainer for a personalised and comprehensive solution.

Jumping up

A dog jumps up because it wants your attention. If this occurs, avoid pushing or yelling, as  this will only encourage the behaviour.

Harness your dogs’ energy and enthusiasm by following these steps: 

  • When your dog jumps up, cross your arms and turn your back.
  • Your dog might keep jumping, but you must ignore it.
  • The instant your dog stops jumping, pat and praise him or her. If the dog jumps up again, repeat the process. Consistency is the key.
  • When expecting visitors, put your dog on a lead before they arrive. If your dog doesn’t jump, he or she will receive a treat and a pat from the visitor. If the dog does jump, he or she will be taken out of the room.

Dogs learn from repetition, so it’s important to repeat this process until your dog understands.

This is general advice only. Please consult your veterinarian or dog trainer for a personalised and comprehensive solution.


Digging is a common problem. It is important to firstly understand why your dog is digging. Simply preventing your dog from digging can cause new behavioural problems, such as barking and chewing.

Dogs dig for several reasons:

  • Burying or retrieving bones.
  • Keeping cool.
  • Escaping confinement.
  • Flushing out rodents.
  • Sounds and smells that attract them underground.

Boredom: Give your dog things to do while you are out of the house. If you have a large backyard, you can turn up some soil in one area to make it easier for digging. For small backyards, try a plastic shell pool filled with sand. To make these areas appealing for a digging dog, hide bones and toys in them every day before you leave the house.

Scent: If you know what your dog wants to dig up, you can remove the item, but most of the time this is not possible. Peg down some chicken wire or coated mesh over the area where the digging is taking place and spray it with citronella oil, as dogs do not like the smell. Make sure you have set up a digging patch or another activity for your dog to enjoy.

Keeping cool: Make sure your dog has shade and plenty of water. Invest in a shell pool to fill up with cool water and ice, or keep the dog inside under the air conditioner.

Escaping confinement: First ensure you have secure fencing. Check for gaps and look for places where your dog may jump, climb or otherwise get out. If your dog is digging out to seek company, consult a veterinary behaviourist or behavioural trainer as soon as possible. You may also want to consider having your dog desexed, as this helps reduce the urge to roam and find a mate.

Digging comes naturally to dogs, so it can take time to change this behaviour.

This is general advice only. Please consult your veterinarian or dog trainer for a personalised and comprehensive solution.