Preventing & Managing Common Pet Behavioural Problems

Preventing & Managing Common Pet Behavioural Problems

Pets bring our lives so much joy as well as companionship, but sometimes our furry friends may experience behavior problems that can be challenging or frustrating for us to handle. From destructive chewing or scratching to aggressive behavior or excessive barking, these behavioral problems can be present in both dogs and cats. With the right approach however, along with consistent training, these behavioral issues can be managed and prevented. In this article, we’ll explore different techniques to help you prevent and manage common pet behavior problems. 

Preventing Aggression & Socialisation Issues:

One of the best methods of preventing socialization issues and aggression towards other people and animals would be to start with early socialization. Early socialization plays a big role in preventing common behavioral problems in pets. Introduce your young kitten or puppy to other animals, different people, and new environments from a young age, once they’ve been fully vaccinated of course. This helps develop their social skills and reduces the likelihood of aggression or fear of other people or animals later in life. You could also enroll your pet in training classes to introduce them to other animals and help increase their socialization skills, whilst under the supervision and guidance from experienced trainers. 

Establishing A Routine:

Pets require structure and stability in their lives, and having a routine will help them establish that. Set a consistent daily routine for their feedings, walks and exercise, playtimes and nap times. Routines provide your pets with a predictable schedule which helps reduce anxiety and gives them a sense of security. Make sure you dedicate time throughout the day to play with your pet to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. 

Providing Your Pet With Enrichment:

Some behavioral problems may be a result of excess energy or boredom. There are many ways in which you can provide your pet with enrichment activity. We have a number of interactive toys and feeders that provide your pet with enrichment, for example, the All For Paws Interactive Food Maze or the All For Paws Interactive Cat Puzzle Feeder not only slows down your pet’s eating, but also provides them with mental stimulation as they do so. Treat dispensing toys like the All For Paws Interactive Dog Treat Frenzy Roll also encourages your pet to increase their puzzle solving skills, whilst being rewarded. 

Positive Reinforcement Training:

Positive reinforcement training is a wonderful tool for encouraging your pets to learn positive behavior and discouraging unwanted behavior. You can use praise, playtime or training treats like JR Training Treats or Kit Cat Kitty Crunch treats, to help your dog or cat associate good behavior with rewards. Try to avoid punishing your pet too much as it can create anxiety or fear-related behavioral issues. Try to remain consistent and be as patient as possible when using positive reinforcement training. 

Dealing With Separation Anxiety:

Some pets suffer from separation anxiety, which is quite common, and can often lead to destructive behavior when they’re left alone. In order to combat separation anxiety, you’ll need to get your pet used to being alone, gradually. Make sure to make a comfortable space for them, keep a shirt or towel with your scent on or around their bed or sleeping area so that they’ll have a sense of security. Start with short trips out, and gradually increase your trips over time. You could also consider using natural calming aids like Feliway or Adaptil to help them feel more at ease and relax. You could also consider getting a dog sitter while on vacations, so that your pet can stay home where they feel safe. For more information, check out our article on Preparing Your Pets For When You Go On Vacation

Dealing With Excessive Barking: 

If your dog is barking excessively, it can certainly be a nuisance, and can create a lot of frustration around your home. Start by identifying what your dog is barking at, like if there is something bothering them, if they’re bored, afraid or feeling territorial and try to address them accordingly. Provide them with plenty of toys throughout the day to keep them occupied, and ensure that they’re getting enough exercise. Try to desensitize them to whatever is triggering their barking, and implement positive reinforcement techniques as you do so. You can also seek out professional guidance, if the barking is becoming too excessive, and you're unable to manage it. 

Preventing Destructive Behavior: 

Chewing and scratching is natural behavior for both cats and dogs, but can become problematic when it starts affecting your personal belongings, like your furniture or shoes. Make sure to provide your dog with plenty of chew toys, like the West Paw Hurley Bone, and your cat with scratch posts, like the All For Paws Incline Scratcher, to keep them distracted and engaged. We also recommend using training sprays to prevent chewing or scratching. Use positive reinforcement, like praises or treats when your pet chews or scratches their own toys instead of your belongings. 

Preventing Marking: 

Marking can be frustrating to deal with, constantly cleaning up after your pets is not ideal. Marking can be a result of a lack of house training, or can be territorial. Sometimes pets also use marking as a means of communicating that something is wrong. If your pet is marking in your home, and hasn’t displayed this type of behavior in the past, we’d recommend taking them to your local vet to rule out any health concerns. For puppies, make sure you’ve provided them with training pads, during their house training period. You can also discourage marking with training sprays. For cats, encourage them to use their litter boxes with litter attractants, until they’re used to using their litter box, and stop marking around the house. If your cat has left feces on the floor, you could also transfer it to their litter box, so that they can start associating the two with one another. Making sure your pet is neutered may also help prevent marking, but it can also differ from pet to pet. Try to avoid letting your pet see you clean up after them too. 

Consider Professional Help:

If you’re struggling to deal with your pet’s behavioral problems, or if the issues are beyond your management, you can consider a professional trainer or behaviorist. A professional in this field can provide you with expert guidance, and may even identify any underlying conditions or causes for their behavior. You could also consult your local vet as they may be able to tell you if your pet has any health concerns that are contributing to their behavior. 

Preventing and managing common pet behavioral issues requires a lot of patience and dedication. By following this guide, you’ll be able to take the first steps towards preventing and managing behavioral problems effectively. With the right approach, you can create a harmonious and happy environment for both yourself and your fur-babies!

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