If your pet -- like you -- is beginning to act like a "caged animal," you should do something about it, says Silver Spring psychologist Ginger Hamilton.
"Let them meet people and other animals off their territory. Animals need to be socialized." Because they need regular interaction with other animals -- and other humans -- it's up to the owner, she says, to brave the cold or to stimulate activity indoors. (Letting a pet out unattended in freezing temperatures could be dangerous.)
Among Hamilton's other ideas for mitigating the aggressive behavior that animals tend to exhibit when they're confined:
* Stop playing aggressive games -- like "tug-of-war" -- for awhile. They encourage the behavior you're trying to eliminate.
* Mistake-proof your house. Give pets something appropriate to climb or chew on.
* Exercise your pet until it's "exhausted" if you're leaving home for the day. Then give it a special toy to entertain itself while you're gone. (When you return put it away, to keep it novel.)
* Remember the animal's basic need for companionship. "I always recommend two pets in a household." Like humans, she says, animals get lonely and bored -- and sometimes destructive -- when left alone for long periods. Plus, animals exercise each other more strenuously than an owner can.
* Consider the combination of a dog and cat. "They're marvelous together" because the dog keeps the cat "grounded." (Although cats are good with each other, they tend to play "mantel soccer.")