Common Dog & Cat Behavior Problems

Dogs and cats represent the vast majority of the pets in the United States. While they are two very different species, there’s actually a lot of similarities when it comes to training these animals to behave appropriately within a human family.

There are just a handful of issues that make up nearly all of the problems that people have with their pet dogs and cats. This means that these problems are very predictable, and fortunately, they’re also very preventable. And that’s probably the biggest similarity of all. When it comes to behavior problems is one of the biggest reasons animals are turned in to shelters. The easiest, most effective and most efficient approach is prevention.


Dog behavior problems are often misunderstood or mishandled by dog owners. Perhaps you are new to dog ownership, considering getting a dog, or just wish to help your dog with a challenging issue. There is a genetic component to behavior.  If you are considering getting a dog, choose your breed and breeder carefully! Thoroughly understanding the most common dog behavior problems is the first step to solving and preventing them. A solid foundation of obedience training will help you prevent or better control many of these issues.

Many behaviors that are normal become problems when taken to excess.  Some of the more common canine behavior problems are:

  • Barking
  • Chewing
  • Digging
  • Begging
  • Jumping Up
  • Aggression
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Noise phobia
  • Fear of travel
  • Fear of travel to the vet!


We love our feline friends when they rub against our legs, knead on our laps, or look us in the eye and purr. Yet sometimes we may not like everything about our four-footed friends. Not when they streak through the house at 3 a.m. or reject a perfectly clean litter box.

You can go a long way in preventing problems by enriching the environment to prevent boredom and stress.  But nothing is 100% effective.  Here’s some of the most common cat behavioral issues. For any of these, visit a veterinarian first to rule out medical problems before assuming the problem is strictly behavioral.

  • Going outside the litter box
  • Scratching at furniture
  • Jumping on counters and tables
  • Anxiety about coming to the vet

 We can help

Basic obedience training is a foundation for good behavior. Trainers can often help solve behavioral problems, but certain problems are beyond what a trainer alone can help you with.  Management may involve some combination of behavioral modification, over-the-counter products and prescription medications.  In the case of aggressive males, neutering usually helps.  Some problems, especially severe aggression, really need the input of a Board Certified Behavioral Specialist.  We will refer you to one if indicated.

There’s probably isn’t a single issue you’ll have with your dog or cat that your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist hasn’t seen — and helped to overcome. You don’t have to live with frustration and you don’t have to give up your cuddly companion when things go awry.  Early intervention is far more successful, so don’t wait until you are at the end of your rope. Armed with a little help from the pros and a bit of patience, you and your companion can live together in harmony.  Give us a call if we can be of assistance.