Your pets don't have any problem taking a nap on the morning paper or enjoying a refreshing gulp of toilet water. But - being the revered members of the family that they are - you probably want them to cut down on a boorish behavior or two.
Here's how to hamper a few of your pets' rudest moves.
1. Jumping on Guests
Some dogs can't seem to keep all four feet on the ground. The sheer excitement of greeting someone at the door - whether it's your best friend or the UPS driver - is just too much.
Instead teach your dog to keep his paws to himself by sitting politely when greeting guests.
To do this, make training fun for the both of you by turning it into a game, says Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. Here's how: Encourage your dog to run with you down the hallway or across the backyard then stop, and ask him to sit. As soon as his furry bottom hits the ground, give him a treat.
If your dog jumps then sits, hold the treat at nose level as he approaches to distract him from jumping.
Yin says this"game" teaches dogs to keep all four paws on the ground and to sit, even when they're excited. Click here to see a video of the greeting game.
2. Kitty "Love" Bites
Kitties with a propensity to bite usually sink their teeth into flesh when they've become overly excited from too much petting or play, says Yin.
To prevent painful bites owners need to take a lesson from kittens. "When kittens play they'll stop and rest for a couple of seconds and then they'll play again," explains Yin. "They control the excitement level and we need to do that too."
How? By recognizing when your cat reaches a frenzied state. Overly excited cats look like they're stalking prey - ears swerved out to the side and heads slightly lowered. That's the time to take a short break from play or petting and allow your cat to calm down.
3. Outspoken Dogs
Dogs that bark at their owners to get what they want don't know they're being brats. Instead, teach these vocal pooches to say "please" by sitting calmly and quietly.
Start by intensively working on the 'sit' command for two days. That means getting your dog to successfully sit 20 to 50 times throughout a day. (If he comes up to you on his own and sits that's okay too.) Immediately give him a treat for sitting and additional treats for remaining quietly seated.
"If you do this for two days then sitting quietly is on the forefront of their minds," explains Yin. "Then, later on, when they want to bark at you and you're not giving them the reward that you usually do... they'll be puzzled and they'll sit."
If during those two days of training your dog barks at you, stand still and ignore him until he sits quietly. Then quickly reward him.
Food makes the initial training go fast. Eventually you can give fewer and fewer treats as the behavior becomes second nature.
4. Cat Countertop Walking
Lots of exciting and tasty things are on kitchen counters for your feline. So putting an end to these elevated excursions means taking the fun out of the experience by booby trapping the surface with a deterrent like an electrostatic mat or double sided sticky tape placed on cardboard.
Whatever deterrent you use, it must work instantly - not two, three or even four seconds after those delicate paws land on the counter. Otherwise the bobby trap won't be effective in breaking of your cat of this bad habit, says Yin.
At the same time, reward your kitty - 20 to 50 times a day, at first - when her feet are on the ground. "It has to be enough for cats to understand that petting and attention occurs on the floor and nothing good happens on the counters," explains Yin.
5. Drinking From the Toilet
Dogs and cats without easy access to a bowl of clean drinking water often imbibe from the commode. The solution? Shut the lid. And if you live in a sprawling or multi-level house, place two or three bowls of sparkling fresh drinking water in different locations.
6. Sitting on Whatever You're Reading
Plopping down on the newspaper you're reading is your cat's way of saying, "Hey, pay attention to me!" Petting, yelling or shooing your cat away only gives her the attention she's seeking.
Instead, gently pick her up and place her on the floor then reward her with a tasty treat for being there. This quickly teaches your kitty that all four feet on the floor earns her a reward and your attention, says Yin.
The first couple of times a dog gets riled-up and humps a toy, pillow, or guest's leg, owners react by either laughing or with a verbally scolding. "Pretty soon the owners have done an effective job of teaching the dog to do it as an attention seeking behavior," explains Lore Haug of Texas Veterinary Behavior Services in Sugar Land, Texas.
To stop mounting, you'll need to first remove all items targeted by your dog. Then reward him for displaying a more acceptable behavior like lying quietly on his bed when guests visit.
In some cases excessive mounting stems from medical conditions such as urinary track disease, says Haug. If your adult dog suddenly starts mounting objects, talk to your veterinarian about possible physical reasons.
8. Passing Gas
If your pet passes gas occasionally it's perfectly normal. However excessive gas might be caused by a change in diet or something more serious issue like gastrointestinal disease, says Haug. If your pooch (or feline) frequently passes gas, a trip to your veterinarian might be in order to help clear the air.