You love your pet, but you may not always love their behavior. Sometimes pets exhibit problem behaviors that are frustrating and difficult to address. Our team at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital wants to help by providing tips to correct six common pet behavior problems.

#1: Your dog jumps on people

Dogs jump on people to get attention, and many people respond by petting them, which reinforces the behavior. Refusing to give your dog attention when they jump is the best way to discourage this behavior. Pro tips include:

  • Turn your back — When your dog jumps on you, stand still, or turn your back to let them know jumping is not appropriate to gain attention. If they continue to jump, walk away, and keep your back turned until they calm down.
  • Tell your dog to sit — If your dog knows the “Sit” command, tell them “Sit,” and  give them attention only when they obey.
  • Get everyone involved — Ensure your friends and family also know how to respond when your dog jumps on them, to reinforce the lesson.

#2: Your cat pees outside the litter box

Cats can be extremely particular about their bathroom facilities, and can stop using their litter box for numerous reasons. Pro tips include:

  • Veterinary check-up — Bring them to Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital, so we can rule out any medical conditions.
  • Scoop frequently — Scoop your cat’s litter box at least once a day, and change out the litter and disinfect their box at least once a week.
  • Provide enough boxes — You should have one box for every cat in your household, plus one extra.
  • Choose the right location — Place your cat’s litter box in a quiet, low traffic area, where they won’t be interrupted or startled.
  • Ensure the box set-up is acceptable — Most cats prefer unscented, clumping litter, and don’t like litter box liners or hoods. In addition, they usually prefer their litter about two inches deep.

#3: Your dog chews on your belongings

Dogs have an inherent need to chew, but when they decide to chew on your valuable belongings, the situation can quickly become upsetting. Pro tips include:

  • Keep your home tidy — Ensure any items you value are kept in a secure location, where your dog can’t reach up and nibble them.
  • Provide appropriate toys — Provide your dog with many appropriate chew toys, ensuring the toys don’t resemble any off-limits items.
  • Get their attention — When you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, clap your hands to get their attention.
  • Divert their focus — Once you have their attention, remove the forbidden item, and divert their focus to an appropriate toy.

#4: Your cat scratches your furniture

Cats scratch for many reasons, including to sharpen their claws, mark their territory, remove frayed or old nails, and to stretch. However, this behavior can be frustrating if they choose your furniture, drapes, or carpeting as their scratching area. Pro tips include:

  • Provide numerous posts — Provide at least two scratching posts for every cat in your home, and provide posts in several different orientations, so your cat has many options.
  • Use catnip — Encourage your cat to use the scratching post by putting catnip on and around the post.
  • Clip your cat’s nails — Clip your cat’s nails about every two weeks to keep the old, frayed nails from being an issue.
  • Make inappropriate scratching areas undesirable — You can place double-sided sticky tape on your furniture or drapes, and sandpaper or newspaper on the floor where your cat scratches inappropriately. 
  • Use plastic caps — You can place plastic caps on your cat’s claws, so they can’t damage your furniture when they scratch.

#5: Your dog counter surfs

If your dog finds yummy tidbits on your counter, making them stop perusing can be difficult. Pro tips include:

  • Crate your dog — Keep your dog in their crate while you are preparing and eating meals, to ensure they won’t be tempted to jump on the counter.
  • Never feed your dog table scraps — Never give your dog scraps after a meal—this reinforces that your food is their food.
  • Clean your counters — Be meticulous about removing all food, including crumbs, from your counters, so your dog is not tempted.

#6: Your cat jumps on the counter

Cats like viewing their environment from a high vantage point, and will jump on any high surface to achieve this goal, including your kitchen counter. Pro tips include:

  • Provide cat perches — Provide elevated vertical spaces for your cat to view their surroundings.
  • Change the texture — Put double-sided sticky tape or aluminum foil on the counter and table, to dissuade them from walking on off-limits surfaces. 
  • Make the area stinky — Cats find smells, such as citronella, air fresheners, citrus, aloe, wintergreen oil, and eucalyptus oil, unpleasant. Put soaked cotton balls that give off these aromas in areas off-limits to your cat.
  • Startle your cat — Blow a whistle and startle your cat when they go to jump on your counter. They will quickly learn to avoid the unpleasant noise.

Stopping your pet’s unwanted behaviors will make your household much calmer. If your pet is exhibiting concerning behavior, contact our Fear Free team at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital, so we can first rule out a medical issue.