Living with a dog or a cat is a source of true happiness for owners and family members. However, when our pet behaves in an inappropriate and disturbing way, this harmony is broken and the inconveniences outweigh the joy of living together. These issues are known as behavioural disorders, and they are much more common than you may imagine. Often under-diagnosed and generally very badly perceived, they make daily life difficult, even unbearable, for both the owner and the animal.
If your dog tends to cry when a thunderstorm hits, don’t worry: it will be easy for you to reassure your dog, who is quite understandably frightened by a relatively rare event that can be a little distressing. But if this rather trivial event triggers uncontrollable and excessive reactions, and it’s impossible for you to calm him down, his behaviour could hint at a more severe underlying problem: generalized anxiety, for example. And this type of disorder doesn’t just affect dogs: cats can fall victim to it as well.
If your pet is display problematic behaviour, even if it seems harmless, a consultation at the Clinique Vétérinaire Beaubien in Montreal’s Rosemont–La-Petite-Patrie area is essential.
The Most Common Behavioural Problems in Dogs and Cats
Untimely barking, day and night, repeatedly running away, aggressiveness for no reason, general destruction, eating its excrements or those of other animals – these odd canine behaviours can be disturbing. And cats can be just as problematic. They can make life difficult for us by marking our beautiful leather sofas with odorous urine, by shredding apart our favorite armchairs instead of using the scratching post bought especially for them, not to mention an aggressiveness that leads bites or bloody scratches on our forearms.
The causes of these deviant behaviours are varied and numerous. Stress, anxiety, boredom, a sudden change of environment, but also old age or illness can play a determining role. Inappropriate training, incomplete, poor or no socialization, or even the way the owner interacts with his or her pet can lead a dog or cat to adopt inappropriate behaviours.
Your Veterinarian Is Your Best Ally
The role of your veterinarian is vital in finding solutions that will allow you to live in harmony with your four-legged friend. By talking openly with your veterinarian about your pet, its possible issues, your life together and your respective behaviours, he or she will be able to understand the situation in order to better solve it and diagnose the problems.
Two Possible Treatments:
The first will consist of behavioural therapy. By modifying your pet’s environment, enriching it with various distractions, practicing training methods such as counter-conditioning (redirecting the dog’s attention), your dog will undergo a refresher course to correct bad behaviour. For example, it is essential that your dog masters basic commands, such as “sit” or “down”. He should also respond immediately to his name when you call him. You should be able to immediately and effortlessly capture your dog or puppy’s attention.
If behavioural therapy is not enough, it may be necessary to add medication (in the form of tablets). After checking your pet’s health and conducting a thorough physical examination, your veterinarian will be able to determine if your pet’s behavior could be related to a specific health problem (e.g., aggressive reaction to paw pain). Blood tests will usually be performed during this visit in order to prescribe the right medication for anywhere from a few months to even several years, with regular follow-up regarding the prescription (in person or by phone) to ensure an adequate and effective dosage.
Finally, keep in mind that early intervention is always preferable: the earlier you act, the more effective the solution will be and the easier it will be to implement.