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Problem pets? Animal behaviorist Houpt has solutions – Petoskey News-Review

Have a dog that is too aggressive, a cat that won’t use the litter box or a horse with cribbing behaviors?
Animal behaviorist Katherine Houpt can help.
Houpt said canine aggression is the most common problem she deals with in dogs.
“Most canine aggression is rooted in fear,” Houpt said. “Some dogs get aggressive with small children because they move so quickly and unpredictably. We use a doll toddler to test the dog. We use a stuffed dog to see if the dog will be aggressive with other dogs. Studies have found them to be pretty accurate tests, although there is not a 100 percent correlation.”
Houpt helped Gaylord residents Georgia and Donald Maxwell when their dog had problems.
“We got Buzz and Tilly from the animal shelter,” Georgia said. “They’d been together in two homes and abandoned twice. Tilly had severe medical problems, and we had to put her down. Buzz was fine when he was with Tilly or someone else, but if he was alone in the house he’d tear it up.”
Houpt diagnosed the problem as “separation anxiety.” Buzz was trying to get out of the house to find the Maxwells.
“Katherine came to our home and she gave us tips, like not making a big scene when leaving the house,” Georgia said. “Just leaving quietly. She also suggested we see a vet, and we have Buzz on Valium now. He’s doing fine. What was really nice about Katherine, she followed through and checked in on us.”
Houpt has a book signing Thursday, April 24, at Saturn Booksellers, 133 W. Main St., for a book, “Decoding Your Dog,” she co-wrote with 13 other experts in animal behavior. Houpt’s chapter is titled “Creating a Mensa Dog.”
Houpt is a professor emeritus of Cornell University and received her veterinary and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at kah@abcofnm.com or 448-8083. Her website is http://abcofnm.com, and contains tips and questionnaires that can be filled out by owners of pets with problems. For more information about the book signing, call 732-8899.


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