Pets exhibit various kinds of reactive behaviors depending on their perception of their environment. And any time their behavior puts them or others around them in the mildest of dangers, it’s a good idea to seek professional help in the form of behavior therapy. But you need to read their behavior closely and understand that, often, it isn’t extremes like aggression that need to be handled but something as quirky as excessive chewing of paws.
Before all else, you will need to have your pet checked out for an underlying medical condition that may be causing the behavior. Having ruled out medical issues, the next step would be consulting a certified animal behavior professional. And what’s important to remember is that behavioral changes take time and patience. Look out for these behavioral issues. These are the situations when your pets need therapy.
1. When They Show Signs Of Aggression
There are many reasons why animals can get aggressive. They may be acting possessive of their territory, toys, or food. They may even be scared sometimes and act aggressively due to an underlying fear. They may even feel a need to be dominant as they may feel you aren’t leading the pack.
There are many signs of aggression that a dog exhibits. A few of them are growling, chasing, snarling, barking, baring their teeth, threatening to bite, nipping, or biting. Sometimes a walk overstimulates some dogs into becoming aggressive.
What can help with such dogs are “growl” classes or reactive dog classes. In these classes, two or more dogs are put in a controlled situation, to socialize them. The dogs and their owners are under strict supervision. The owners are given a big space to walk their dogs in. Each dog is then trained to get comfortable with the presence of other dogs and slowly brought closer to them. This brings down the dogs’ anxiety and aggression around other dogs so that they can enjoy their walk in the presence of other dogs and people.
Cats show aggression by swishing their tail, hissing, growling, staring, baring their teeth, biting, or scratching. Cats are expressive creatures. If they don’t want to be petted beyond a point, they may bat your hand away. They can also be particular about their territory and may create trouble if they don’t want you or other pets in it sometimes.
Cats are also known to practice what’s called “redirected aggression.” They may direct their anger to another cat on the other side of the window and scratch people or animals near them. Cats can also get aggressive when in pain.
The first thing to do when you see your kitty acting aggressively is to have her checked by a vet and have medical conditions ruled out. Then, it might be a good idea to consult an animal behaviorist who specializes in cats.
2. When They Show Signs Of Anxiety
Apart from aggression, there are other behavioral issues that our pets sometimes exhibit. One of them is anxiety. Several situations can make our animals anxious. A change in their environment, unexpected events, and being left alone at home all of a sudden are all events that can get them anxious. Animals show anxiety in different ways. They may whine, destroy things around the house, eliminate within the house despite being toilet trained, or groom themselves compulsively, so much so that their raw skin gets exposed.
3. When They Show Signs Of Boredom
Dogs are athletic by design, and a sedentary lifestyle can leave them bored. And once boredom sets in, they can begin to expend their energy in chewing things around the house. As they are social creatures, leaving them alone in the house for long hours can upset them.
The solution here would be to give your dog enough physical and mental stimulation to get him tired and happy. Boredom in dogs can be dealt with by just increasing their level of activity or spending more one-on-one time with them. But if they experience severe separation anxiety and are really afraid when they’re alone at home, it may be time to consult an animal behaviorist.
4. When They Can’t Adapt To Change
Cats usually resort to behavioral issues if something has changed in their environment (like an addition to the family) or when something is wrong with the litter box. They may start eliminating outside the box or start scratching furniture or carpets.
Once you’ve figured out the root of the problem, it can be handled accordingly. Sometimes along with therapy, your pets may even need prescription drugs to relax them. The drugs help the animals cope with the change. They can be weaned off once the changed behavior is in place.