In most cases bringing home a new pet is a learning curve. From choosing the right food to house training there’s a lot you’ll need to know. One of the most important things for you to understand about your new pet is why they act the way they do. Understanding your pet’s behaviour, especially when they appear challenging can make the transition to owning a pet easier for both of you.
One of the most concerning behaviours that new pet owners experience is biting in dogs and scratching in cats. In most cases biting and scratching can be stopped or directed to more appropriate areas like toys or scratching posts. But understanding why they do it is still important.
Reasons Why a Dog May Bite
Have you ever become frustrated and wondered, why does my dog bite me for no reason? Don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s because they are lashing out. There are many reasons why a dog may bite.
They’re playing – in our previous article “How to “nip” Puppy Nipping Early” we addressed many reasons why puppies nip and bite. It’s natural for dogs to want to bite while playing but it’s crucial that they bite toys and not people.
They’re teething – just like babies’ puppies teeth too. When teething gets painful, they find comfort in biting and chewing. Having lots of toys or treats to assist with teething can help discourage a puppy from biting and chewing something else, like your favourite pair of shoes.
They’re stressed out – in a flight or fight situation some dogs might bite. But remember that this is not the norm for dogs that are well socialized. This behaviour should be taken seriously and followed up with as there could be something more serious going on with your dog.
Reasons Why a Cat Might Scratch
Understanding why cats scratch can help save both your sanity and your furniture. These are some common explanations to answer the question, why do cats scratch?
They need to – it’s in a cat’s nature to scratch. In fact, cats with claws need to scratch in order to remove dead outer claws. Always have scratching posts around your home to reduce scratching in unwanted areas.
They’re playing – cats often scratch unintentionally during play. Don’t roughhouse with a kitten or cat as this may promote play biting or scratching in the future.
They’re stressed out – most cats will warn you with a hiss when they are stressed out. But if you’re unlucky you might still end up on the wrong end of a scratch. This is their natural reaction when they’re in an uncomfortable situation.
Could It Be Aggression?
Biting and scratching can be a normal behaviour for your pet. If you feel that the behaviour is problematic and is crossing into aggression you need to address this with your veterinarian.
Fear is the most common reason for dogs and cats to become aggressive. But the underlying reason for that fear may be difficult to determine. If you have an adopted animal that shows aggression it may be due to past abuse. Medical issues can also cause aggressive behaviour in animals.
Always take the time to understand why your pet does the things they do. Even when it gets frustrating, the behaviour might simply be normal. Work with your pet to find a solution to keep them happy and keep your body and furniture safe.