Pet psychology

It’s hard enough putting ourselves in other people’s shoes to better understand things from their perspective, let alone trying to understand what’s going on in our pet’s mind and what their behaviour means. So let’s take a look at some common behavioural traits of dogs and cats, and try to understand why they do what they do.

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Why isn't your dog obedient?

Dogs are pack animals and need a pack hierarchy system with rules, limitations and boundaries in order to survive and behave well. This is quite difficult for most dog owners to understand as they’re our best friends and we just want to spoil them. Of course you should love your dog and show them lots of affection, but you need to ensure that you don’t just let them get away with any and everything, so that they know who’s boss.

Why does your cat leave a dead mouse at your door?

Deep down domestic cats are hunters just like wild cats but instead of bringing dead prey back to feed their young ones, you get an unwanted present on your doorstep instead! Because we feed them so well, they now hunt for the thrill of it and to avoid the frustration of no longer needing to hunt for food. You may be able to reduce the number of mice left on your doorstep in future by making their meal times more like a ‘hunt’. Why not try hiding their bowls of food in different places around the house or using something like a puzzle ball to feed them, making meal times more exciting.

Why do dogs bark?

Each bark has a specific function for your dog and you'll quickly work out what they're trying to say. You'll also recognise your dog’s bark for wanting to play, go out and be fed etc. But you'll need to ensure you don’t always reward them with what they want when they do bark, otherwise you could end up with a nuisance dog that barks all the time when you’re both in and out of the house.

Why do some cats like having their tummy tickled and others don't?

Cats are all very different and very independent creatures, so what one cat may like another cat may dislike. The tummy is generally a very sensitive part of a cat’s body so many don’t like being tickled there. 

The Cats Protection have produced a guide to help pet owners understand what their cats really want, it suggests that when a cat rolls onto it's side to show its belly, us humans misinterpret this behaviour and think they want their belly rubbed so we're a little shocked when they grab and bite our hands. The truth is, cats are actually showing a greeting type of behaviour and showing trust, so from a cat's perspective it's actually an abuse of that trust to stroke their belly. Most cats would just prefer a head rub!

Learning to understand your dog or cat by reading their body language is a fascinating part of owning a pet but it can really help to improve your relationship with one another.

We love our pets and they’re an important part of our family, they're reassuring and a constant presence in our lives. Pet Insurance provides peace of mind and can help to cover the cost of unexpected vet fees when your pet needs treatment due to an accident or illness.

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