Behaviour Management

Pets can’t talk to us, so their behaviour is their way of telling us if they are happy or not! But sometimes our pets’ behaviour can be annoying, embarrassing and even worrying.

Many pet owners don’t realise that their pet’s bad and quirky habits are not always a part of their personality – they can be changed for the better if you know how!

At Just For Pets we want you to have a great relationship with your pet. That’s why we encourage you to come in for your free Pet Health Check where we’ll help you address behaviour issues with your pets.

Your pet’s behaviour – did you know?

  • A dog’s sense of smell is 1,000 times more sensitive than a human’s.
  • Dogs can hear better than humans – with much higher frequencies and sounds up to 4 times the distance of human hearing.
  • One of the most common reasons a dog wags its tail is because it’s either happy or nervous.
  • Punishing your pet by ‘rubbing its nose in it’ when it makes a toileting mistake will delay the learning process of toilet training.
  • Cats are clean by nature; provide a clean litter tray and they will use it.

Pet behavioural issues

Your pet’s behaviour is affected by a myriad of factors including nutrition, stress, illness and genetic issues.

Dogs and their behaviour

In Australia, 2 out of every 5 households own one or more dogs.

Dogs thrive on companionship and need to engage in natural behaviours, ongoing socialisation and a nutritious diet to remain both physically and behaviourally healthy.

Dog breeds are classified into categories and can determine some behavioural traits: terrier, working, sporting, hound, herding, toy and non-sporting.

Common behaviour problems in dogs

The most common behavioural problems seen in dogs are:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Aggression towards people or other dogs
  • Resource guarding
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Pulling on lead
  • Disobedience
  • Toileting problems
  • Jumping up
  • Excessive barking
  • Fears and phobias
  • Escaping from the yard
  • Begging at the table
  • Mounting and masturbation
  • Coprophagia (eating faeces)

Causes of behavioural problems in dogs

  • Not enough exercise – dogs need regular physical exercise to be happy.
  • Not enough mental stimulation – mental stimulation is essential for a well-balanced dog.
  • Health problems – health problems can cause behaviour issues.
  • Genetic issues – behaviour issues can sometimes have genetic causes.
  • Inconsistent environment – much like children, dogs need clear, kind and consistent instruction to learn appropriate behaviour.
  • Changes in routine – these can be stressful for your dog and cause it to feel insecure and act out.
  • Changes in diet – also like kids, this can have a huge influence on behaviour. Always feed your dog a high-quality diet. When changing foods, do so gradually over a week.
  • Poor or negative socialisation – provide your puppy or dog with positive, controlled exposure to other dogs, people and new experiences.

Puppies and their behaviour – it’s normal for them but havoc for you!

Some of the ‘normal’ puppy behaviours include growling, biting or nipping, chewing, whining when alone, submissive urination and jumping up to lick faces.

These are perfectly normal for a dog but they can cause havoc in your home. Even though this problem puppy behaviour is ‘normal’ in the canine world, it doesn’t mean it’s okay or that you have to allow it.

Socialisation and healthy puppy development

Socialisation is extremely important for the healthy behavioural development of any puppy. The most critical socialisation period happens between 3-16 weeks of age and this lays a foundation for a well-balanced dog for life. If a puppy doesn’t receive proper socialisation during this period, it can grow up to be a shy, fearful or aggressive dog. Puppy school and obedience training can be great options.

Older dogs and their behaviour

As they age, dogs can suffer deterioration in their memory, ability to learn, awareness and senses of sight and hearing. This can:

  • Cause changes in their sleep-wake cycles, making them tired during the day but restless at night
  • Increase or decrease their activity level
  • Make them forget previously learned commands they once knew well
  • Increase their anxiety and propensity to react aggressively
  • Change their relationships with you and other pets you may have

The good news

With a healthy diet, exercise, playtime, routine and consistency, you can have a healthy, happy and well-behaved pet – even if they have a track record of causing trouble!

Cats and their behaviour

Cats can experience behavioural challenges, and like dogs, there is usually a good reason for this.

Common behaviour problems in cats

  • Litter box problems
  • Destructive scratching
  • Aggression
  • Too much night time behaviour
  • Meowing and yowling
  • Suckling and licking people
  • Chewing, scratching or licking excessively
  • Biting
  • Stalking and predatory behaviour
  • Urine marking

Causes of behavioural problems in cats

  • Health issues and behaviour go together, so if your cat’s behaviour changes suddenly, it is time for a health check.
  • Fleas can cause your cat to chew, scratch, or lick itself incessantly.
  • A cat in heat is affectionate and vocal, alerting a potential mate of their fertile status.
  • A lack of cleanliness, especially in the litter box, can discourage a cat from relieving themselves there. Cats are clean animals by nature so make sure you clean the litter box clean.
  • Unused energy may lead to your cat scratching at your furniture in order to play and work off energy.
  • Stress prompts health and emotional issues that result in changes of behaviour for your cat. Because cats use scent to calm themselves, a stressed-out cat often urinates around the house, or increases scratching behaviour.


Kittens love playing. Through play, they improve their physical coordination and social skills. Kittens tend to have more energy than cats, so increased play helps your kitten (and you!) get a better night’s sleep. Lots of toys are available to help your kitten work off its energy!

Older cats

Older cats suffer a decline in cognitive and other functioning, with feline cognitive dysfunction, or FCD, affecting 1 in 2 cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than 4 out of 5 cats aged 16 to 20 years. This can:

  • Result in deterioration of memory, awareness, sight and hearing
  • Cause disturbances in sleeping patterns
  • Make cats forget learned habits they once knew well
  • Increase anxiety
  • Change their social relationships with you and with other pets in your home

Good pet health supports good pet behaviour

We cherish our beloved furry, winged and scaled family members. Good pet health supports good pet behaviour and the fun, loving relationships with our pets that’s such a joyous part of life.

Our pet’s behaviour alerts us to what we need to know about them.

The experts at your Just for Pets Pet Health Centre can help you to identify what your pet is trying to tell you and how you can help! Visit your nearest participating Just For Pets store  for a free 6 point pet health check today.