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Undesirable behaviour: if your dog or cat doesn’t do what you want

From barking to mewing non-stop or scratching and chewing on your furniture. A pet displaying undesirable behaviour can drive us to despair. Here are some tips to help you deal with this kind of behaviour and improve the situation.

What are some potential causes of undesirable behaviour?

There are different types of undesirable behaviour that your pet may adopt, like excessive barking or mewing, food aggression, biting, begging, scratching and much more. Luckily, all of this undesirable behaviour can be unlearned given enough patience and some smart tricks. In order to get to the bottom of the behaviour, it is important to see if you can find the cause. Biting or barking in dogs may be the result of fear or stress. A common cause of excessive barking is boredom, e.g. when your dog is left alone for too long. Other potential causes of barking or spraying in cats for example, on top of fear, stress and boredom, include territorial protection and insecurity. Finding the cause of your pet’s behaviour is the first step to solving it.

Socialising your pet

It is very important to properly socialise your pet. Socialisation essentially means: getting your pet accustomed to other people, animals and other aspects of their environment and everyday life. Socialising your kitten at a young age will help it become a confident and happy adult. Socialisation is important for your puppy as well. Socialising your puppy teaches it how to deal with its environment, avoiding anxious or aggressive behaviour later on.

Undesirable behaviour in dogs

Dogs can display several types of undesirable behaviour, including:

  • Jumping
  • Undesirable biting (objects)
  • Begging
  • Excessive barking
  • Food aggression (aggressively protecting their food bowl)

These types of undesirable behaviour can potentially cause a lot of concerns and negative situations. But luckily they are all solvable with a good dose of patience and repetition. The blog Getting rid of your dog’s undesirable behaviourdiscusses these types of undesirable behaviour in greater detail as well as how to deal with them.

Undesirable behaviour in cats

Cats can display undesirable behaviour too, with various potential causes. Examples of undesirable behaviour in cats include:

  • Urinating outside the litterbox
  • Spraying
  • Undesirable scratching or biting
  • Jumping on the kitchen counter

Of course, you would prefer for your cat not to do these things. These behaviours are unpleasant for yourself and potentially for the cat. Jumping on the kitchen counter, for example, can be dangerous. Sadly, cats regularly burn their paws on a red-hot electric stove. Luckily, these types of undesirable behaviour can be eliminated given the necessary patience. You’ll find different types of undesirable behaviour and tips on how to deal with them in the blog “Getting rid of your cat’s undesirable behaviour”.

Undesirable behaviour in adult pets

Poor socialisation can lead to undesirable behaviour at a young age. When you get a pup or kitten, you are largely responsible for raising your pet and you’ll be able to identify undesirable behaviour early on. This is a bit more complicated when adopting an adult dog. You don’t always know exactly what the dog has been through, which makes it more difficult to deduce the causes of any undesirable behaviour. It is recommended to get professional help for adult dogs that came with some baggage, in order to make progress and solve the problem.

Therapy

Good intentions and lots of patience go a long way, but there are situations where you simply cannot solve the behavioural problems of your dog or cat on your own. In this case, it is recommended to hire a behavioural therapist for your pet. Therapy or a course will dramatically increase the odds of finding a solution to the behavioural problems.

Final thoughts

Here are some tips at a glance to summarise all of the above. If your dog or cat is displaying undesirable behaviour and you want to do something about it, these tips will get you started:

  • Try to find the cause of the behaviour.  
  • Make sure the environment isn’t causing the undesirable behaviour. Make sure your home is dog-friendly or if you’ve got a cat make your home cat-friendly.
  • Reserve enough time to raise your dog or cat. Take socialisation very seriously; it will help avoid problems later on.
  • When addressing undesirable behaviour, be extremely patient.
  • Be consistent and unambiguous, ‘yes’ means yes, ‘no’ means no.
  • Reward good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour. Use your voice to reward your pet because overfeeding is always a risk, but if you want to reward it with something yummy every now and then, use a  healthy and responsible snack.

Get professional help if you can’t solve the problem on your own.

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