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What can I do When My Pet Misbehaves?

Ah, the torture of naughty pet behavior and not knowing what to do about it! There is always a reason for acting out, but we often don’t know what that is — so frustrating! Here’s a brief list of possibilities to consider:

1. An underlying emotional condition.

They might be reacting to a neigborhood animal that they can see through the window, something you might be unaware of while you are away at work. They could be influenced by your own emotiional state or recent changes in the household. They could have childhood trauma and anxiety, separation anxiety, or simply a background that cemented some bad habits. It could be grief over a recent death in the house. I’ve even dealt with situations where one of the other humans in the household was actually the problem — triggering and reinforcing the behavior. The wife wanted serenity but the husband got the dog all riled up because he thought it was “fun.”

2. An undiagnosed medical condition.

There might be something going on that you don’t realize: they could be peeing due to an infection. If a cat is de-clawed, the type of litter you are using could be extremely painful to step on and they will want to avoid the litter box. They could be having age-related changes and are more easily confused because they can’t see, hear, or think as well.

3. Struggles with others in the household.

Sometimes the mix of personalities just isn’t right — everything might have been stable until another pet was adopted into the family. Or the pet is reacting to outside humans — I remember one cat who was greatly upset by a teenager's boyfriend who would visit the house. That cat knew this guy was a bad dude.

4. Boredom.

They are simply not getting enough exercise or stimulation and are acting out because of it. You may be so used to them sleeping a lot that you forget to give them the attention they need. Particularly a problem with cat people who think cats are self-contained and don’t need much interaction — which is quite untrue.

5. They are trying to get your attention.

I’ve had more than one animal tell me that they knew they were being naughty, but acting out was the only way to get their human’s attention that something was wrong with them. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

6. The pet just doesn’t “get it.”

They don’t realize that what is natural to them (for instance, spraying/marking) is actually repellent to humans. I often find myself having to explain this to cats — especially the male ones.

These are the main categories I see in my practice. Now, what can you do about it?

None of the above examples are things that a pet owner would be able to determine or fix on their own. By using animal communication, I work to find the actual root cause of the problem (Step 1), and then we work as partners (Step 2) to create the right solutions. The causes are sometimes not what you would have expected, but once uncovered, it can make a lot of sense in explaining strange or annoying behaviors.

The bottom line is that none of you need to suffer with this. You might be pleasantly surprised to find how quickly we can make changes happen, once we know the actual reasons that started them acting out in the first place.

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