8 Things Pet Owners Do That Cause Their Dogs and Cats to Misbehave

Cat in Lap
Bringing cats to the veterinary clinic without a carrier is one of Dr. Patty Khuly's pet peeves.

5. Untrained little “lapdogs.” Just because they’re pocket-sized doesn’t mean they shouldn’t undergo basic obedience training. Yet I know of few tiny-breed dogs who know even the most common commands. What’s up with that?

I propose that this human-induced behavior problem persists because purse-sized dogs seldom hit the floor when they’re out in public. Nonetheless, it’s true that a lack of simple training in basic manners leads to undersocialized dogs who are effectively allowed to become more snappy, yappy and problematic.

6. Expecting perfect feline behavior at home under less-than-perfect circumstances. Keep more than two or three cats? Then you should know it’s unlikely they’ll all get along peacefully. While this might not seem like a problem to you (indeed, most owners are unaware of subtle inter-cat issues), feline stress is commonplace under these circumstances.

Cats are territorial animals and they don’t often like being forced to live in close quarters under one roof. Crowding can make for undesirable litterbox issues, promote stress-induced diseases, and, consequently, isn’t always conducive to keeping cats happy and healthy.

7. Bottomless bowls, begging behavior, and other pet feeding misadventures. How can I put this delicately?

Most pet owners adore their pets so implicitly they manage to induce unwanted feeding-related behaviors (and obesity!) through well-intentioned but misguided actions such as:

a) Keeping bowls filled to the brim with kibble (especially common for cats), b) failing to adhere to a feeding schedule (thereby allowing pets to dictate feeding times), c) feeding under the table or after family mealtimes, d) offering treats willy-nilly (whenever they walk into the kitchen, for example), and e) promoting inter-pet stress by feeding them side-by-side.

8. Cats outside of carriers. Why do people do this? Do they not understand that a feline armful in the waiting room of a vet hospital makes for dangerous dog-related behavior? Moreover, it stresses out the waiting dogs along with the unprotected cat.

Fortunately for these vulnerable felines, there is a solution: We take them to a quiet, dark room until it’s their turn. In fact, we’re starting to do this with all our feline patients. After all, our waiting room is small, and the above-mentioned disorderly dogs understandably freak them out.

All of the above represent this veterinarian’s top eight behavior pet peeves, but I’m sure you have more to offer. Fire away!

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