Keeping pets can be very rewarding. It can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a big responsibility and it’s important to ensure your little one is happy and healthy. Just like you, your pet can experience a range of emotions including happiness, anxiety, fearfulness and anger. It’s good to understand which emotions your pet is feeling so that any cheeky or unusual behaviour can be rectified by giving them the help and care they need.
Our vets have put together some advice for dealing with mischievous pets, but if you would like further guidance, or have any questions you can talk to our online vets 24/7.
Most common dog behaviour problems
- Pulling on the lead: A chest-led harness, such as a a Lupi non-pull harness, is a perfect training aid, as it takes pressure off a dog’s neck by distributing the pressure more evenly around the body. When the lead is attached to a ring located on the chest strap and your dog pulls, the harness will turn his body around rather than allowing him to go forward.
- Jumping up: Delay greeting your dog until they’re calm. Or if you have guests round, put a lead on your dog and when they’re calm (which may take a few minutes), allow him to approach guests and say hello. If he jumps again, gently turn and lead him away, then wait for calm and repeat. For particularly excitable dogs, remove the dog to a contained area before guests come in. Once your dog calms down, clip on his lead and allow him to come out and greet your guests.
- Barking: How annoying is excessive barking? First, we need to establish the reason: Boredom? For attention? To protect the house and his humans? Aggression? Depending on the root cause, the way to stop dog barking will vary greatly. Start by figuring out what he gets out of barking and remove it. For example, if he barks at people passing by the living room window, manage his behaviour by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room. Or it’s often effective to Ignore the barking and then reward with a treat or toy when he stops. If the barking is due to anxiety or stress, an Adaptil collar together with behaviour training can be a good combination.
- Running away: With so many distractions around, sometimes the sight of you jumping up and down and desperately calling your dog’s name may fail to have an effect. Positive reinforcement is the way to go. You want your dog to know that coming to you is much better than anything he’s going to find out there. When your dog comes to you, praise him like it’s the most amazing thing in the universe. He’ll soon understand that coming to you gets him what he likes best — your affection. When training recall, a long training lead (10 meters or more) can be very helpful as this still allows your dog to roam but you still have control in case they decide to run off. Once they respond to your calls, even when distracted, you can try them off the lead, but it is best to try this in a secured area first.
- Chewing/biting: Puppies like to chew furniture…socks…anything they can get their little teeth in to, so it’s a good idea to ‘puppy-proof’ your home, ensuring anything that can be damaged or can be dangerous to the puppy (such as cables) are out of harm’s way. Consider puppy crate training too. Puppies will be puppies, and they explore their world with their mouths, but something as simple as a chew toy can help, such as a Kong toy. They are very durable but remember, no toy is indestructible.
Most common cat behaviour problems
- Destructive scratching: Cats need to scratch for a variety of reasons, so the best tactic when dealing with scratching is not to try to stop your cat from scratching, but instead to teach her where and what to scratch. Try and provide a variety of scratching posts. Cats want a sturdy post that won’t shift or collapse when used. Most cats also like a post that’s tall enough that they can stretch fully. Feliscratch by Feliway is a good aid to divert your cat to scratch certain places. It contains a pheromone found in cat’s paws and is applied directly to the scratch post. Also, try and clip your cat’s claws regularly (you can ask your vet for advice on how to do this). Clipping the claws will not reduce the scratching behaviour but can reduce damage to furniture.
- Toileting: The most common litter tray problems which might your cat to go outside of her tray are an unclean tray, maybe a hood or liner that makes her uncomfortable, too much litter (or the wrong type), or maybe it’s too small.
- Excessive meowing: The cat’s meow is her way of communicating with people. Cats meow for many reasons—to say hello, to ask for things, and to tell us when something’s wrong. Cats don’t actually meow at each other, just at people. A cat who meows a lot should be checked by a vet to ensure a medical condition is not the cause of the cat’s distress. As cats age, they’re prone to developing an overactive thyroid and kidney disease, and either one may result in excessive meowing.
- Aggression: You need to understand the cause of your cat’s aggression and his motivation for it before you can help him. Keep in mind that a number of medical conditions can cause or contribute to your cat’s aggression, so first it’s best to speak to a vet to rule out anything serious.
Are you concerned about your pet’s behaviour? We recommend you speak to one of our vets to receive tailored advice on the best option for your pet. Our online vets are available 24/7 and can give you instant advice on what to do next. Find out more about our online vet service.