Biting, chewing, barking and scratching are all natural behaviours in cats and dogs. But when this becomes a nuisance, understanding the root cause of that ‘destructive rage’ will help you manage the problem. There's a reason why your furry friend is acting a little crazy, so let's find out what it is...
Before we dig into the topic, it's worth saying that any sudden change in behaviour, like fear or aggression, should be checked by a vet, as your pet could be suffering from pain or illness. Seeing as animals can't talk about what's bothering them, pet parents need to be extra observant when it comes to their pet’s health.
Dogs bark to communicate to us and their fellow canines, and it can indicate anything from excitement to fear. So, the postman may set your dog off or he may lose it when the doorbell rings. This is normal if the barking is brief – it's simply how your canine friend greets guests. However, excessive barking can be very frustrating and it often occurs when dogs are anxious, not exercised enough or left alone for long periods of time.
Similarly, chewing, scratching and digging often express that your dog is bored and so, frustrated. Basically, it’s their way of keeping busy.
Any of those situations sound familiar? Reflecting on the cause will help you work towards a solution. Perhaps your dog needs more frequent walks to expend that excess energy; or a couple of new toys, a comfy bed and the radio on to help them feel less lonely. If you cannot attend to them for hours, a dog walker will help provide the company that they need.
When dogs are easily excitable and jump up on people, obedience training may also help. Seeing a behaviourist or taking your pup to dog training classes are two great ways of learning how to control your dog and respond to unwanted behaviour. Moreover, your dog will learn how to pick up commands and become more social. After all, dogs aren't born with a manual on how to live with humans!
Lastly, there are plenty of wonderful products to help dogs (and their owners) cope with stressful situations. Like Adaptil pheromone collars, diffusers and tablets, which all have a calming effect; no-bark collars that help reduce barking; or non-toxic sprays like Bitter Apple Spray, which can help put pets off chewing your precious belongings.
Never punish your dog, as this will only make the problem worse. Instead, reward good behaviour with a treat or a game of ‘throw and catch’.
Cat scratch fever
Virtually every cat owner will have to deal with scratch marks in their furniture, walls or carpet at some point. But before you tell your kitty off for using your sofa as their boot camp, understand that scratching is a healthy cat behaviour. In essence: cats need to scratch. They do this for different reasons: to mark their territory, to keep their nails trim and sharp, to relieve tension and to stretch their muscles. For those and other reasons, scratching just feels great to cats!
So what can you do about it? Redirect their scratching to a scratching post. We recommend one per cat, and this must be vertical, sturdy and tall enough (at least 90 cm). The ideal place for them? Near your cat's bed or close to the areas of unwanted scratching.
Cats leave their scent in their scratch marks, so you'll need to clean any marks from your furniture with soap and water. You can then apply Feliscratch on your cat's scratching post. Since this releases a scent similar to their own, they'll be naturally drawn to the post.
Other problems you may face as a cat owner are spraying and urinating. Our feline friends spray urine to mark their territory or leave a signal for other cats. But this is different from having an urgent or frequent need to urinate, which could be caused by a bladder infection. When cats urinate they squat down, whereas when they are marking, they stand up, shake their tail and do a step dance with their hind legs. Tomcats in particular produce a highly pungent spray that is hard to miss.
Frequent spraying in the home can indicate that your cat is feeling stressed. They may feel threatened by other cats or upset by changes in their environment, like a new pet, building works or recently moving home.
Take time to monitor your kitty's habits and find out what is causing the changes in their behaviour. Once you’ve understood the problem, you can give these tips a try:
- Remove urine with soapy water and disinfectant. Placing a food bowl in the area may prevent re-spraying.
- Cats are solitary animals and love having a hiding spot of their own. A high place (like a cat tree) will help them feel happy and safe.
- Use Feliway Classic to help an anxious cat or Feliway Friends when cats aren't getting along.
- Stop your neighbour’s cheeky cat from entering your home with a selective-entry cat flap. This uses your cat's microchip as an electronic key.
- If urine spraying gets out of hand or is accompanied by aggression (like fighting), neutering your cat could help stop those behaviours.
Our ultimate tip? Remember that despite the chewing, scratching and urinating, pets are adorable at heart – and perfect in their own little way.