Cat and Dog Behavioral Problems and How to Correct Them

A dog lies down among ripped up paper.

Our pets are exceptionally loveable and have a way of entertaining us with their antics. Most of the time, these antics are nothing more than the usual instinctual behaviors, but other times they can cause problems in the household. 

The good news is that many common cat and dog behavioral problems can be corrected through positive rewards training and socialization.

Here are the more frequent problems we at All CreaturesVeterinary Hospital hear about from our pet families and what you can do to teach your pets great manners.

What Causes These Behaviors?

Having a pet who exhibits behaviors you don’t appreciate can be challenging. In fact, it is one of the primary reasons why adoptions don’t work out and animals end up in shelters. Many of the behaviors we associate with being “bad” are actually normal behaviors that go to the extreme through instinct, lack of training, and reward. 

Behaviors like accidents around the home, digging, chewing, and scratching are all commonly reported. Each of these may be related to expression of your pet’s basic drives, but they have become destructive. But why do they do it?

  1. Lack of training and socialization. These basic skills, such as teaching your pet the household rules and potty training, ideally should be accomplished at an early age. These skills, such as basic commands go a long way in helping your pet gain confidence and understand what you expect of them.
  2. They suffer from anxiety or fear. Many behaviors like destructive chewing, digging, scratching, and attempts to escape are often a result of anxiety. Separation anxiety and noise anxiety are frequently diagnoses we see. Treating underlying emotional/behavioral problems through modification and medication can really improve your pet’s demeanor.
  3. They’ve been rewarded for the behavior. If you scold your pet or laugh at the behavior initially, they have learned that they get attention for said behavior. The best approach is to ignore bad or negative behavior and reward the actions you want to see.
  4. They are in pain or are ill. When a pet is suffering from pain or a disease, their behavior is likely to change. They may act out with aggression or other problematic issues, such as spraying around the home.

If your pet has exhibited an increase in negative or unusual behavior, call us for an examination so we can rule out any health related issues.

Common Cat and Dog Behavioral Problems 

There are a number of behaviors a pet can exhibit that warrant redirection, but these are some of the ones we hear about most often.

  • Aggression
  • Chronic meowing or barking
  • Marking or accidents
  • Scratching 
  • Digging
  • Chewing household items
  • Attempts to escape
  • Chewing

How to Redirect Problem Behavior

Depending on the severity of the issue, we can help treat unwanted pet behavior in a few ways. The first of which is training. If your pet doesn’t respond to your commands and is basically running amok in the home, you must start with the basics of housetraining and behavior modification through positive rewards training. 

Socialization is another must for both cats and dogs. If they are not exposed  to new people, pets, and experiences early on, they will need to be gradually conditioned. This should be done slowly and with supervision. Ask our team for ways to socialize your pet.

Certain pets with depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues can be treated with a combination of therapy and medication.

Is Your Pet Becoming a Terror?

We are here to offer recommendations and treatment to curb problem behaviors in pets. Cat and dog behavioral problems can be addressed and successfully treated using the correct approach. Since each pet is unique, we can tailor some options for behavior modification. Just call our team.