Bad behavior? I don’t think so…
Bad DogOne of the things I run into often is people telling me about the "bad" behavior they see in their dog or cat...  I cringe everytime I hear it. I have always contended that animals do not show "bad" or "good" behavior.  They just respond to their environment, be it immediate stimulus or things they've been sitting on for a while.  We humans have asked our animals to behave in ways that we perceive as "good".  But I would contend that we actually ask them to behave in a "desirable" fashion.  Show me the behaviors that I find acceptable and not undesirable.  Jumping up to give "kisses" is undesirable to many people.  But to dogs, it's a way to say hello.  (Just like butt sniffing...  but I digress)  Cats scratch on furniture.  Cat's NEED to scratch but do they do it to be mean or bad?  No, they do it to satisfy a need.  The biggest issue I hear about is inappropriate urination.  I often hear things like the dog or cat is intentionally peeing on the rug or on the bed... etc etc...  but in all my years of being around animals, not once have I seen this.  I've seen dogs urinate in front of people, but more often than not, they have a urinary tract infection and need to let their people know it.  Cats often refuse the litter box due to some emotional issue.  Before we label any behavior as bad, we should always look to find the root of the problem.  Whenever your dog or cat (or ferret or whatever manner of critter you have) starts showing a behavior that is new (even if it's sleeping more often), there are things you should do.
  1. Take your critter to the vet.  Rule out any physical problems first! I know of a dog that started urinating by the door and it was two months and a few bloody spots later before the owners figured out it was a UTI and not just a "spiteful" dog.
  2. Keep a record.  Mark you calendar everytime you see this new behavior.  What else happened on that day?  Did you change food?  Was someone visiting? Did you neighbors have a new roof put on? 
  3. Remain calm and patient. Rest assured that your critters are not doing these things to be mean.  Animals are not vengeful.  Fluffy didn't puke in your shoes to tick you off.
  4. Reduce the stress in your home.  What is different about you?  Job got you down? Kids making you nuts?  Try meditation or just taking 10 minutes to yourself once in a while and just be still.
  5. Consider alternative or complementary products. Flower Essences are effective, relatively inexpensive and safe to use.  There are no known side effects and the results can be amazing.
  6. Contact a professional.  Whether it's an animal behaviorist or an animal communicator, seek out someone who can help you.
Remember, good and bad are terms that we have given to our animal's.  Animals are just trying to live their best life and are communicating in the only way that most humans listen.  With their actions.  

5 thoughts on “Bad behavior? I don’t think so…

  1. I TOTALLY agree! I hate it when people use the word “bad” to describe an animal’s behavior! In most cases the owner is doing something to (sometimes unwittingly) cause or contribute to the behavior! I agree – animals respond to the stimulus in their environement.

  2. Yeah.. I agree as well. Dogs just know ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’. When people think their dogs are showing guilt… I’m like uh no, they just think the situation is getting dangerous…

  3. I agree with you that most of the times animals are not good or bad ,they just respond to their surroundings.


  4. I disagree! We have a male cat who we have had for over 5 years. He often thinks we forget things, like he gets us up in the morning if the alarm has gone off and we haven’t arisen. On one such time several weeks ago he crawled on top of my wife, so she shued him. He again crawled up on her chest and urinated on her. This evening, we got back after moving our son into an apartment. My wife was walking into our bedroom, the cat alongside of her. She stopped to look at him when he walked over to a pair of her shorts that had fallen on the floor and while looking up at her urinated on them. He was definitely conveying a message, one in which he is spending the night outside for. Both times the cat boxes had been cleaned that morning. Explain why he would intentionally urinate on her or her clothes in her presence!

  5. Dan,

    My first question is, what does your vet say? Have you taken your cat in for an exam?

    I knew someone who’s cat urinated in front of her parent for weeks until they figured out she was passing blood and trying to show them.

    Something is wrong. Take your cat to the vet. Punishing by locking the cat outside will increase his stress, and will increase the undesireable behavior.

    I encourage you to look at this from your cats point of view.

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