Pets can’t tell us what is wrong, so we must observe their behavior carefully to find signs of underlying issues that may need to be addressed. Behavioral problems are often a result of social, environmental and medical conditions affecting our pets. Unwanted and abnormal pet behavior can often be improved through pet education and consistent training, which we offer at Dana Niguel Veterinary Hospital. But first, we must confirm that the behavior is not due to an underlying health concern.

Common Behaviors


Uncharacteristic aggression and dominance-seeking is one of the most serious behaviors found in dogs. Aggressive actions include biting, lunging, growling, baring teeth and barking, which can all be dangerous for people and other pets. Aggression has a broad range of potential social, environmental and medical causes. Dana Niguel’s staff has additional training in aggressive behaviors, and we can help identify and treat your pet’s aggression with you.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when pets become distressed while they are separated from their owners, other people they live with and other people they are attached to. Many pets exhibit destructive behavior when they are left alone, like barking, chewing, digging, attempting to escape and improper elimination. We can help you ease your pet’s separation anxiety so you and your pet will feel better when you have to leave your pet alone.


Barking and howling are typical forms of communication for dogs. However, excessive vocalization can become a real nuisance. Dogs bark for a number of reasons, including to alert people to what they perceive is a danger; to seek attention; to show they are excited, lonely or anxious or because they are simply bored. Proper training can help control improper barking habits.

House Training

House training generally occurs when a pet is young, but it can be taught to older animals as well. This process teaches pets to eliminate waste in a designated location outside the home. Remember, house training takes time, and accidents will happen. Owners should use consistent, positive reinforcement to achieve the best results when house training. We can provide assistance and guidance on techniques for house training.

Inappropriate Elimination Disorders

Inappropriate elimination disorders result in an adult pet improperly eliminating waste. Inappropriate elimination disorders have a range of causes, but they are often a symptom of separation anxiety, excitement or urine marking. They can also be a sign of underlying physical causes, like a change in diet, gastrointestinal distress, infection or incontinence. Your Dana Niguel veterinarian must first rule out any health issues before moving forward with training.

Storm Phobias

Thunder, lightning, heavy wind and rain often frighten cats and dogs. This can lead to them seeking “safety” in locations around the home where they feel secure. Many pets end up getting stuck in small, cramped spaces while finding a place to hide, or they’ll desperately find a way to escape by running out the front door or even jumping out a window. While agitated, they may also bark excessively or eliminate waste in an inappropriate location. We can help you calm your pet’s fears of loud noises so they feel comfortable even during the nastiest storms.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is most often seen in elderly pets and those with dementia. It is characterized by persistent disorientation, difficulty following commands, unresponsiveness to external stimuli, sleep-wake cycle changes, improper waste elimination and a decreased level of activity.

Many symptoms of cognitive dysfunction are seen in unrelated medical disorders. Treatment must begin with an exam with your Dana Niguel veterinarian so we can determine if the changes in behavior are the result of cognitive dysfunction or a different underlying medical condition.

Destructive Chewing

Chewing is a natural behavior in pets, but it can easily become destructive if it’s left unchecked. Inappropriate chewing often occurs in pets with separation anxiety and pets that are frustrated, bored or stressed. This often leads to widespread damage around the home. Redirecting your pet’s energy to toys and edible bones is a good way to condition your dog to chew on appropriate objects. Your Dana Niguel veterinarian can provide further guidance on how to reduce destructive chewing.

If you observe any of these behaviors in your pet, please contact Dana Niguel Veterinary Hospital. After a comprehensive pet examination to rule out any medical causes, we may refer you to our trusted, board-certified veterinary behavior specialist to help identify and treat the source of your pet’s behavior.