While pets can’t tell directly us what is wrong, observing their behavior can reveal underlying issues that may need to be addressed. Behavioral problems are often a result of social, environment and medical conditions. Unwanted pet behavior can often be improved through pet education and consistent training.

Common Behaviors

Aggression

Uncharacteristic aggression and dominance seeking is one of the most serious behaviors in dogs. Aggressive actions include biting, lunging, growling, baring teeth and barking. These can be highly dangerous for people and other pets. Aggression has a broad range social, environmental and medical causes that a Veterinary Behavior Specialist can help identify and begin to treat.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is believed to caused by pet distress during times when they are separated from you and others they feel attached to. When left alone, some pets can exhibit destructive behaviors including barking, chewing, digging, attempting to escape, and improper elimination.

Barking

Barking and howling are how dogs normally communicate; however, excessive vocalization can become a nuisance. Dogs bark for a number of reasons including as an alert; to seek attention; when they are excited, lonely or anxious; or when they are simply bored. Proper training can help control barking habits.

House Training

House training generally occurs when your pet is young, although it can be taught to older animals. This process teaches them to eliminate waste in a designated location rather than in your home. Remember, house training takes time and accidents will happen. Owners should use consistent, positive reinforcement to achieve the best results.

Inappropriate Elimination Disorders

This disorder has a wide range of causes that result in your adult pet improperly eliminating waste. Inappropriate elimination disorders are often a symptom of separation anxiety, excitement and urine marking, or have a physical cause like a change in diet, gastrointestinal distress, infection and incontinence.

Storm Phobias

Although less common in Phoenix, when it does occur, thunder, lightning, heavy wind and rain often frightens cats and dogs. This can lead to them seeking “safety” in locations around the home where they feel secure. While agitated, they may bark or eliminate waste.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Pet cognitive dysfunction syndrome is most often seen in elderly pets and those with dementia. It is characterized by persistent disorientation, difficulty following commands, unresponsiveness to external stimuli, sleep-wake cycle changes, improper waste elimination and a decreased level of activity.

Many symptoms of cognitive dysfunction are seen in unrelated medical disorders. Only your veterinarian can determine if the changes in behavior are the result of cognitive dysfunction or an underlying medical condition.

Destructive Chewing

Chewing is a natural behavior in pets, but can easily become destructive if left unchecked. Inappropriate chewing often occurs in pets with separation anxiety, and who are frustrated, bored or stressed, leading to widespread damage around the home. Redirecting your pet’s energy into toys and edible bones is a good way to condition your dog to chew on appropriate objects.

If you observe any of these behaviors in your pet, please contact us. After a comprehensive pet examination to rule out any medical causes, we may refer you our trusted, board-certified Veterinary Behavior Specialists to help identify and treat the source.