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.