Our pets are the joy of our lives, but sometimes they can present some challenging behaviors we’d like to avoid. Most cats and dogs have behavior problems here and there, but if your pet is engaging in destructive behaviors like chewing, scratching, or having accidents in the home it may be time to take action.
There are a number of common pet behavioral problems we hear about at Clairmont Animal Hospital. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to help redirect your sweet fur friend.
Tips for Correcting Pet Behavioral Problems
Learned behavior happens when attention is given to a specific behavior, or it is a behavior that is hardwired in the pet’s DNA (such as scratching). You can definitely redirect bad behavior by practicing the principles of rewards based training and other simple adjustments.
Cat Scratch Fever: My Cat Scratches Everything
A frequent complaint of cat owners is that Fluffy is shredding the couch. However, did you know that your cat needs to scratch? Scratching is a way for them to remove the outer sheath of the nail and is one of your cat’s calling cards in the wild as a way to mark their territory.
The solution: Provide your cat with lots of alternative places to scratch. Use scratching posts, corrugated pads, cat trees, and other items. Keep certain areas off limits to your cat, or allow them there just when you can supervise them.
Dogs by nature do bark as a way to communicate, but if your dog is barking incessantly at the doorbell or next door neighbor it can be a problem.
The solution: Train your dog to respond differently. Practice by going to the door and opening it often. Teach them to go to a spot, sit, and stay quiet. When they perform this task, reward them with a small treat. Continue repeating this process and add distractions, such as having a friend ring the doorbell or walk by a window. Only reward or give attention to them when they remain quiet and sit.
Dig It? The Dog Who Digs Too Much
If your yard looks like it has been tunneled by gophers, you may have a dog who enjoys digging a little too much. Digging is a natural instinct to find things to eat through rooting around or to make a comfy bed by digging a shallow hole.
The solution: If your dog’s digging is causing problems, one way you can address this is to provide them with a digging area. Use a sandbox or create a dirt pile in the corner of the yard and allow them to fulfill that urge to dig there. If your dog is bored, provide more toys and puzzles and daily exercise for better enrichment.
This is one of the more upsetting of behaviors faced by cat and dog owners. In most cases, the pet in question was never properly housetrained. Unfortunately, this results in a lot of pets ending up in shelters each year without understanding the reasons for it and correcting it.
The solution: First off, make sure your pet gets a clean bill of health through a wellness exam, since urine marking can be a symptom of a health condition. If your dog is having accidents in the home, start at the beginning by re-training them on basic potty skills that focus on repetition and reward. If your cat is spraying, make sure there are enough litter boxes in the home and that they are cleaned each day(plan on two boxes per cat). Cats and dogs are also more likely to spray when they have never been spayed or neutered.
We at Clairmont Animal Hospital know there are multiple problem behaviors that can be experienced by your Fluffy or Fido. But most problems have solutions. Please contact us if you have questions about pet behavioral problems, or to schedule an appointment.