What’s behind dog and cat obsessions?
Dogs may be a man’s best friend and cats may have been considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians, but we still need to care and look out for them.
One of the most common worries for pet owners comes when they see their four-legged friend becoming obsessed with objects, food or certain behaviours.
But rather than become uneasy about their dog or cat obsessions, figuring out why their behaviour has changed is a far more productive way to address and resolve the issue.
How can I spot if my pets have dog or cat obsessions?
Whilst it may seem funny when your pet picks up a new behaviour, it is not a laughing matter if it becomes repetitive to the point of obsession.
An obsession is an addiction which has the potential to make our dogs and cats very frustrated or unhappy.
Here are five warning signs to look out for when playing with your pet if you think they have an issue:
1. They have obsessive behaviour and tend to take their play very seriously.
2. Their eyes glaze over and you can’t distract them.
3. They appear to be fixated or in a trance.
4. Their face and body language is much stiffer than usual.
5. There is no room for relaxation, no joy to their play.
How to prevent obsessive behaviour in pets
Pets display compulsive behaviour if they are frustrated or stressed, but this is particularly true of cats.
If they want to do something but can’t, they get very frustrated and will choose to do something else, repetitively and regularly if allowed to do so.
Try to ensure your cat or dog gets regular exercise because excess energy is one of the main reasons for obsessive behaviour developing.
Pets quickly work out that they can relieve their anxiety, frustration, or suppressed energy by engaging in intense play. That’s why it’s important to monitor the intensity of your pet’s play and calm them down if you think they may be getting obsessive.
Maintaining an active and varied social life for your pet is a good way to ensure they don’t become fixated on one type of behaviour.
Although they may become obsessed in order to get our attention, do not punish your dog or cat for compulsive behaviour as this will only lead to more of the same instances.
Snatching a toy away from them will only make things gets worse. Instead, be patient and reward them when they choose to stop playing with it voluntarily.