Illustrated Articles

Behavior

  • Territorial or protective aggression may be exhibited toward people or other animals that approach the pet's property. Generally, people and other animals that are unusual, less familiar to the dog, or most unlike the members of the household are the most likely “targets” of territorial aggression.

  • Anorexia is a decrease or loss of appetite for food. While hunger is a physically driven, appetite is mentally driven. There are two types of anorexia: true anorexia and “pseudo-anorexia.” Both result in decreased food intake, but a dog with pseudo-anorexia wants to eat (is hungry) but can’t because of difficulty picking up, chewing, or swallowing food or some other cause.

  • Anxiety wraps are vest-like garments designed to calm anxious dogs. The vests work under the theory that pressure applied to the dog’s torso causes a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant or hugging a distressed person.

  • Barking is one of the most common complaints of dog owners and their neighbors! But, for dogs, barking is natural. It can serve as a territorial warning signal to other dogs and pack members. Dogs may vocalize when separated from their pack or family members.

  • As cats age, we generally see changes in their behavior. The wild and crazy playful activities we associate with kittens gives way to adult cats sleeping in the sun and prowling around the house. We commonly presume senior cats will take even longer naps in the sun or on our beds. It is important, however, to differentiate normal feline behaviors from abnormal ones, as some behavior changes in aging cats arise from pain and are definitely not normal.

  • As dogs age, we generally see changes in their behavior. The playful ball-chasing and constant running around that we associate with puppies gives way to adult dogs napping in the sun and lounging during evening TV time. And with senior dogs, we accept even more slowing down.

  • With mild or minor behavioral problems, clients are often able to correct the problem by means of reward-based training, as is outlined in the other handouts in this series. However, when problems are more serious, it is easy to make the problem worse rather than improving it.

  • Displacement behaviors are usually normal behaviors that are performed at an inappropriate time, appearing out of context for the occasion. Displacement behaviors arise from situations of either conflict or frustration. Conflict refers to the situation in which an animal is motivated to perform two or more competing behaviors (e.g., approach or withdraw, greeting but fear of being punished).

  • Behavior problems can be due to medical or behavioral causes, or both. A clinical history, physical examination, and diagnostic testing will help determine if there are underlying medical conditions contributing to the problem.

  • Behavior problems may be a result of normal behaviors that are unacceptable to the owners or may be an abnormal behavior for that species.