Behavioral problems are a top concern among pet owners. In fact, bad behavior is the No. 1 reason why a cat or dog is given up to a shelter by its owner.
The most common of these problems among our furry friends are destructive behavior, house soiling and aggression.
Destructive behavior can take many forms; determining the motivation behind your pet’s bad behavior may help remedy the problem. Pets destroy objects for many reasons: boredom, stress, fear and anxiety, for example. By providing adequate exercise, appropriate toys and regular attention, most destructive behaviors can be cured. If these steps do not curb bad behaviors, seeking help from your veterinarian or behavioral specialist may be warranted. After medical reasons are ruled out, a behavior modification plan and prescribe medications may be necessary.
• Housebreaking trouble. When housebreaking puppies, confinement, scheduling and monitoring to learn where to urinate and defecate properly are the keys to success. Kittens are easier, as their natural response is to use a litterbox.
As cats and dogs age, many situations can contribute to house- breaking accidents. Environmental changes and other external stress- ors may be at fault. Medical conditions like urinary tract infections, bladder inflammation or diarrhea can contribute to problems. This is why it is important to get your pet examined by a veterinarian. Tests on your pet’s urine, feces and blood may be conducted to find the root of the problem. Treatments may include behavior modification and medications.
When a pet decides to take a break from house training, this can become extremely frustrating. Re-training your dog via crate confinement, strict scheduling and positive reinforcement can help. Cats need multiple litterboxes, litter varieties and decreased stress. Clean litterboxes daily; most cats don’t want to use a soiled area.
Thoroughly clean previously soiled areas to deter pets from returning to the spot. Although it can be difficult to not get angry and yell at your pet when it has soiled your best rug, the use of corrections for accidents in the home will only confuse your pet and cause fear. Instead, focus on praise behavior when you catch your pet doing the right thing.
• Aggressive behavior. Aggression issues are less common than destructive behavior and house soiling. Due to the potential danger to people, aggression can be far more devastating and must be handled by professionals. Aggressive behavior can range from minor issues like playful nipping to much more serious biting problems. Aggression problems can exists between pets or between pets and people. However, aggression toward a person should never be ignored and requires immediate consultation with your veterinarian.
With these tips and help from your veterinarian, most destructive behaviors, housebreaking issues and aggression issues can be resolved. This keeps everyone happy.
Information provided by Caryn Paulin, DVM, Westfield Veterinary Hospital, 8789 N.W. 54th Ave., Johnston, 515-986-5738.