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Behavioral Problems

Aggression in DogsAggression In Dogs

When a threat or challenge is ultimately resolved by combat or deference (showing respect toward a superior).

Types of Aggression:

Dominance Aggression – Aggression shown toward people in order to dominate/control them.
Fear Aggression – When dogs are fearful of humans and they show aggressive behavior.
Interdog Aggression – Usually between two male or two female dogs.
Protective Aggression – The animal perceives that their owner is threatened and displays aggressive behavior.
Predatory Aggression – When a dog stalks, stares at or silently pursues small animals or objects such as bicycles.
Territorial Aggression – When a pet protects its location with aggression.
Food-Related Aggression – Aggression toward another pet or human when food is presented, being eaten, or being taken away.
Possessive Aggression – When dogs will not relinquish toys or objects to their owner.
Redirected Aggression – When a dog is stopped from pursuing an aggressive behavior, they may re-direct their aggression to another pet or person.
Pain Aggression – An aggressive response when in pain.
Play Aggression – Involves growling, snapping or barking while playing.
Idiopathic Aggression – Aggression for which there is no known cause.
Maternal Aggression – Occurs during pregnancy, right before or after giving birth. The mother dog may incorrectly perceive a threat and may show aggressive actions.

Signs of Aggression:

Signs of aggression include snarling, growling, nipping, barking, biting, staring, a rigid stance, hair standing up on the neck or back, ears back, baring teeth, wagging tail, etc.

Causes of Aggression:

Possible causes of aggression include genetics, environment, breed, hormones, teasing, often fear, etc.

Treatments for Aggression:

If your dog has a problem with aggression, the first thing to do is have your veterinarian examine him or her. After the exam and any tests, the doctor will give you advice on what he or she thinks would be the best option for your pet. Treatment may include altering the way you interact with your dog, trying a head collar, changing where or when your dog sleeps, eats, or plays, dog training, spaying or neutering, or medication. You may be given options to try at home or be referred to a behavioral specialist.

Anxiety In Dogs

Anxiety in dogs

When the apprehensive anticipation of future danger or misfortune is accompanied by symptoms of tension.

Types of Anxiety:

Fear – A feeling of apprehension associated with the presence or proximity of an object, individual or social situation. Example: Being afraid of people.
Phobia – A profound and quickly developed fear reaction that does not get better over time. Example: Being afraid of noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, & ambulances.
Separation Anxiety – When animals exhibit symptoms of anxiety or excessive distress and/or behavior problems when they are left alone.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Recurrent, frequent thoughts or actions that are out of context to the situations in which they occur. Example: tail chasing, flank sucking (usually in Dobermans), wool chewing (usually in Oriental cat breeds), fly biting, fence running, self-mutilation (licking/chewing), hair or air biting, pacing, staring, vocalizing, some aggressions.

Signs of Anxiety:

Attempts to escape, pacing, excessive drooling, hiding, lowering and tucking the tail, flattening the ears, raised hair along the shoulders and hips, dilated pupils, hiding, shedding, whining, destroying things, excessive panting, shivering, inappropriate urination and defecation, alertness, restlessness, anorexia (not eating), vocalizing (barking/howling), depression, decrease in activity, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive licking, dominance aggression, inter-animal aggression, excessive celebration when owner returns, etc.

Causes of Anxiety:

Breed, abandonment, a traumatic event, a life change (such as a move), a new member in the household, loud noises, other dogs, the addition of a new pet, establishing a hierarchy, etc.

Treatments for Anxiety:

• Sometimes it is hard for you to determine if the symptoms are due to anxiety or a medical problem, so a visit to your veterinarian is the first step. Your vet will determine if the problem is due to anxiety and suggest the best treatment. If you know the source of the problem, it can be resolved faster. Your response to the problem may be helping or be making it worse. Treatments can range from gradually exposing the pet to the problem to medication (as a last resort). Your veterinarian may suggest a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.

• Use D.A.P.® (Dog Appeasing Phermone)

o A synthetic pheromone that helps to calm and reassure dogs of all ages.
o Available in a spray, diffuser or collar.
o Get it at: Pets & Friends, Petsmart, Petco

• Use Composure™ Chews

o An advanced chewable formula that decreases nervousness, hyperactivity, anxiety, or other responses to environmental stress.
o Get it at: Pets & Friends

Cat ScratchingInappropriate Scratching of Furniture by Cats

Scratching is a normal behavior in cats that becomes a "bad" behavior when your cat opts to claw your sofa or other furniture, carpets, curtains, etc.

Causes of Inappropriate Scratching:

To Improve Nail Sharpness – Cats get rid of the dull outer sheath of their nails, revealing the inner needle-sharp nails beneath.

To Apply His/Her Scent to Objects – Cats have scent glands in their paw pads and scratching helps apply this scent to their territory.

To Stretch –The stretching stance helps cats to stretch their whole body.

To Relieve Boredom or Stress – Keep your cat stress free and provide him/her with toys and play time.

scratching postTreatments for Inappropriate Furniture Scratching:

• Screaming or disciplining your cat won't help. It is best to channel that behavior into a more acceptable one.

• Offer your cat a scratching post that is tall enough and sturdy enough to take his/her full body scratching without wobbling or tipping.

• Make your sofa or other furniture less desirable by placing double-sided tape on the spot where he/she scratches

• Place an angled scratching pad next to the spot your cat likes to scratch.

• Products that might be helpful:

o Sticky Paws for Furniture, 2" x 12" double-sided non-toxic adhesive strips. Get It At:
o Cosmic® Catnip Alpine™ Scratcher, a 19" X 7½" corrugated cardboard pad in an angled cardboard base stands 15½" high. A hole at the base holds a mouse toy. It comes with extremely potent certified organic Cosmic Catnip. Get It At: Petsmart, Petco, Doctors Foster & Smith (, 800-323-4208)
o Pavlov's Cat Scratch Feeder, a spring-mounted scratching post, which when used deposits treats into the bowl base. Get It At:, 888-818-6807
o Feliway®, a synthetic copy of natural cat pheromones proven to reduce or prevent feline stress and the associated behavioral problems. Feliway® comes in a spray or a plug-in diffuser for your home. Get It At: Pets & Friends, Petsmart , or Petco
o Soft Paws® Nail Caps For Cats, vinyl nail caps that help keep your cat's nails blunt for 4 to 6 weeks. You can put them on at home, or we can do it here at Pets & Friends for a fee. Get It At: Pets & Friends, Petsmart, or Petco

Inappropriate Urination & Defecation By Cats

When your pet urinates or defecates outside of the litter box, such as on the carpet or on a bed.

Causes of Inappropriate Urination:

Medical Problems – Inflammation of the urinary tract, urinary tract infection, kidney, pancreas or thyroid diseases, age-related mobility issues, decreased cognitive (brain) function
Litter Box Aversions (There is something about your litter box that your cat doesn't like) – The litter box has harsh odors, the sides of the box are too high, the litter is dirty, your cat does not like the feel of the litter, or the scent of the litter is unpleasant.
Inappropriate Site Preferences – The litter box is in an unpleasant area (ex. Too Noisy or dark), your cat is afraid to use the box (bothered or ambushed by a person or pet while in the box).


Cats may spray to show their presence, mark their territory, or advertise their availability to mate. They may also spray due to a new person, pet, furniture, carpet, or a new home. Frustration due to insufficient playtime or a restricted diet may also lead to spraying.

litter boxTreatments for Inappropriate Urination & Defecation:

• Address the problem quickly! The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to become a habit.
• Bring your cat to the veterinarian for a thorough exam, urinalysis and possible bloodwork. These can rule out possible medical problems such as a urinary tract infection. If the problem is not medical, but behavioral, you can try the following:

o Choose the appropriate litter and box

• Most cats prefer unscented, finer-textured litter
• Young kittens, elderly cats, and cats with mobility problems need boxes with low sides.
• Overweight and large cats need bigger boxes.
• Most cats prefer an uncovered box that lets odors escape and allows a 360-degree view of their surroundings.
• Have as many litter boxes as cats in the house-plus one.

o Choose a good litter box location

• Most cats prefer a location that is quiet, private, separate from their feeding area, and easily accessible 24 hours a day.
• If your cat has mobility issues, do not locate the litter box up or down stairs.
• Place multiple boxes in different areas of the house.

o Keep the litter box clean

• If you use a clumping litter, remove feces and urine clumps daily and add clean litter as needed.
• A liner may help keep the box cleaner, but most cats don't like them.
• To clean the box, scrub it with a gentle detergent, dry it, and refill with clean litter. The litter should be changed often enough so that it looks and smells dry and clean. The more cats using the box, the more often this will need to be done.
• Replace old boxes that smell unpleasant or are cracked.

o Use Feliway®

• A synthetic copy of natural cat pheromones proven to reduce or prevent feline stress and the associated behavioral problems.
• Feliway® comes in a spray or a plug-in diffuser for your home.
• Get It At: Pets & Friends, Petsmart , or Petco

o Take your cat to see a Veterinary Behaviorist

• Ask your veterinarian for a referral.


Pets & Friends Animal Hospital, L.L.C.

3625 Baltimore Ave. • Pueblo, CO 81008 • 719-542-2022 / fax 719-545-6261