Best Ways to Manage Your Pet’s Bad Habits
As pet parents we know that our four-legged friends are more than just creatures that we share a space with. They are our companions. Our confidants. The ones that we turn to when we are having a bad day.
But, let’s be honest. Even our BFFs have habits that we would rather live without. So what should you do if your pet’s bad behavior becomes too hard to handle? We’ve collected some tips to help you to manage these problems.
What Causes Bad Behavior Anyway?
Unless you’re Dr. Doolittle, odds are that you can’t communicate directly with your cat or dog to learn why they do the crazy things they do. Most vets believe there are a numerous factors that can cause your pet to act out. Here are five of the most common:
- Attention-seeking behavior: animals resorting to a bad habit to elicit a response from you
- Age: Just like us, aging can have a dramatic effect on our pet’s behavior
- Inactivity: Disobedient behavior is often a sign of a pet being under-stimulated
- Health issues: An animal’s actions can be a sign of distress
- Environmental changes: Pets sometimes have issues with change, which causes them to act out
The good news? In most cases you can curtail your pet’s behavior without professional intervention.
Dealing with Your Dog’s Poor Habits
When it comes to dogs, much of their bad behavior can be solved by how you react to them. In the case of excessive barking or jumping, sometimes the best response is having none at all.
Dog experts believe that when we immediately give dogs attention as a response to their barking or jumping, they instantly view it as a reward. In the case of barking, don’t immediately respond. Instead, try to identify the possible trigger and work to remove it from the situation. If the barking is brought on by unfamiliar noises, you can counter it with another noise such as television or radio. You can also move the dog to a quiet space until the situation passes.
Another possible solution is distracting your dog with toys or activities. You can even use treats as an added incentive to encourage them to stop barking (some of our customers even use the Petzi Treat Cam to keep their dogs from barking at the doorbell).
If your dog is a jumper, do not respond by yelling “no” while pushing them off. Instead, stand straight or turn your back on them while saying no in a firm voice. Eventually they will get the hint.
When Your Cat Misbehaves
Like children, cats will sometimes misbehave if they aren’t getting enough interaction and attention. It’s imperative to have playtime set aside every day for your feline to keep them happy and engaged. While this doesn’t resolve every behavioral problem, it does address issues related to inactivity and separation anxiety.
For most cat owners, curtailing Fluffy’s instinct to scratch your favorite couch is by far the biggest issue that they face.
Most cats scratch in order to mark their territory with scent glands, which are located under their paw pads. It also helps wear down their nails. Trimming your cat’s nails at least once a month can limit this habit. You can also purchase a good scratching post and sprinkle the scratching post with a lot of catnip to encourage them to use the post instead of your vintage drapes.
When to Get Help
There are situations where it is highly recommended for pet parents to seek professional assistance. This is normally suggested and helpful when there are underlying health issues or problems with aggression.
According to the ASCPA, aggression serves as one of the most common behavioral problem with dogs and cats. Although the underlying cause could be multifaceted, it’s important for pet owners to take definitive action if they believe that their pets could be a potential danger to others. It is recommended that you work with either a veterinarian or an animal specialist to isolate the behavior’s trigger so that you can reestablish order in your household.
Although health issues may be more difficult to recognize, there are some common signs that pets may exhibit. For example, cats urinating outside of the litter box can also be a sign of bladder or urinary problems. House-trained dogs that can no longer control their bodily functions indoors could be experiencing the initial stages of diabetes.
In many cases, these illnesses may become life threatening if left untreated. It’s highly recommended that you reach out to your vet if you notice any extreme changes to your pet’s behavior. With early detection, you can easily alleviate their pain so that they can go back to being your happy and well-behaved partner in crime.