Pets can be an amazing addition to any family, providing the unconditional love and companionship you didn’t know you needed until now. Better yet, pets can improve your health in myriad ways, from reducing your risk of depression to improving your cardiovascular health.
However, even if you love your furry friend and the feeling is more or less mutual, that doesn’t mean they always find your behavior as endearing as you find theirs. In fact, there are plenty of signs that your pet is less-than-pleased with you that even the most attentive pet owners might be missing. Read on to find out if your pet’s exhibiting any signs they’re not so pleased with their human friend. And for more amazing information about your four-legged friends, discover the 15 Secrets Your Veterinarian Won’t Tell You!
They’re Peeing On Things
While there are countless reasons your dog or cat might pee, like a lack of walks or a dirty litter box, peeing outside of designated areas may be a sign that your animal is upset. For cats, peeing outside the litter box is often a means of marking their territory, often in response to another animal in the house.
“When cats are upset, they are likely to ‘act out’ by urinating or defecating in inappropriate places such as on the owner’s bed,” says Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinary health expert with Rover.com. “Cats are well known for their tendency towards displaced aggression. In other words, if a cat is upset by something they are likely to lash out at the nearest person or animal.”
For dogs who pee indoors, this behavior is often related to a lack of physical exercise or anxiety, both of which humans can help attenuate with the help of a vet or trainer. And for more incredible info on your pet, check out the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Dog!
They Chew Up Your Stuff
While dogs have an innate desire to chew, their destructive behavior may be the result of either fear, lack of attention, or separation anxiety.
The solution? Check in with your vet to make sure it’s not a medical issue, and take Fido to a behaviorist to get to the bottom or it. And before you bring home a pup, make sure you’ve read up on the 10 Things You Need to Know Before Adopting a Shelter Dog.
They’re Using Your House as a Toilet
Is your dog or cat suddenly treating your whole house like his personal powder room? It could be a sign that he’s not so happy about your behavior. If your pet is pooping wherever he pleases, it may be a sign that you’re not walking them or changing their litter box frequently enough. It could also be a sign your pet is fearful, so consider addressing your own behaviors, like yelling or slamming doors, that could make them scared. And if you’re on the fence about getting an animal of your own, the 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet will have you convinced!
Even the cuddliest pets are still animals, and will revert to their more basic instincts if they’re feeling threatened. If your pet is biting you, chances are they’re responding to a behavior you’re engaging them in that makes them feel threatened or hurt. If you’re giving your pet some love and they suddenly bite, back off and make sure to check in with your vet to make sure they’re not injured or sick.
Scratching is yet another sign your pet isn’t feeling thrilled about their circumstances. Scratching an owner is often how cats tell their owners they need a bit of personal space. And pets who routinely scratch furniture or walls, even if they know they’re not supposed to, may be doing so as a response to anxiety. And for more knowledge of the animal kingdom, don’t miss these 40 Amazing Animal Facts!
Okay, sure, your dog or cat may give the mailman a less-than-friendly greeting from time to time. If you’re the one those angry growls are directed at you, though, odds are you’ve done something to upset or scare them.
“Unhappy dogs may behave in unusual ways, such as having less tolerance and snapping or growling at other animals or people,” says Dr. Richter. However, it’s imperative that you don’t punish your pet for their growling, or you may make them more defensive and even likelier to growl—or worse yet, bite.
Their Ears Are Back or Flat
Cats have 32 muscles in their ears, allowing them to express a wide variety of emotions. If their ears are pointed back or are flat against their head, these are sure signs of aggression, anger, and anxiety. If you’re getting this signal while petting your feline friend, stop immediately. And if you have a feline friend at home, make sure to check out the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Cat!
They Bare Their Teeth
You may love to show off your pearly whites when posing for a selfie. If your dog is doing it, however, chances are they’re not exactly thrilled with how you’re behaving. Baring teeth is often a sign of aggression among dogs, and is generally accompanied by other aggressive behavior, like growling or adopting a defensive posture. However, don’t assume the same is true for all animals: cats will sometimes leave their mouths open to detect scents in the air. And for more animal antics, discover the 20 Celebrities Who Look Like Their Pets!
They Hide From You
You know how your first instinct is to run for cover when you see that ex you were hoping you wouldn’t run into? Yeah, your pet knows that trick, too. If your pet is hiding from you, there’s a good chance they’re feeling threatened or upset and want to get some distance. However, this is often a sign of illness, as well, so if your pet is going missing in your house frequently, it’s time to call the vet.
They Ignore Your Commands
If your pet seems to be giving you the cold shoulder and ignoring your commands all of a sudden, it’s a good sign they’re not happy with you. Dogs in particular may ignore commands when they’re feeling upset, and, funnier yet, research published in Developmental Science reveals that dogs actually ignore information they deem unnecessary.
They Stop Sleeping
Has your formerly sleepy animal companion suddenly become an insomniac? Chances are they’re not feeling super secure at home. Much like their human counterparts, animals will sometimes stop sleeping if they’re feeling anxious or aren’t getting enough exercise. However, that doesn’t mean you should bring them into your bed to fix it: research from the Mayo Clinic reveals that sleeping in the same bed as your pet can have adverse effects on both your sleep and health.
They Yowl When You Pet Them
A little purr or a wiggling tail when you pet your pet? Definitely good signs. An unearthly yowl? Not so much. If you’re giving your pet some affection and they start wailing, they’re telling you in no uncertain terms to stop.
They’re Grooming Themselves Constantly
Regular grooming is a good sign that your pet is healthy and happy. However, if your pet is constantly grooming themselves, even to the point of creating bald patches, that’s a definite sign they’re unhappy. Over-grooming is often an anxiety response, so make sure you take your pet to the vet if you see them behaving this way.
They Refuse Your Treats
Your pet is no dummy. In fact, many animals will show that they’re uncomfortable around a particular person, feeling upset, or scared by refusing to take a treat. If you’ve ever noticed that your dog isn’t too keen on those Milk Bones the vet hands out after giving them shots, that’s probably why.
They Don’t Want to Play
If that tennis ball that used to make your dog go crazy now seems like old news, it could be a sign they’re one unhappy pup. Dog depression is a real thing, and can often manifest the way human depression does, including a lack of interest in their favorite things. And while some dogs do seem to get depressed for no reason, aggressive disciplining or separation anxiety may make them more susceptible.
They Swat at You
Have you ever gone to pet your cat or dog, only to have them shut you down before you can? Chances are they’re pretty peeved. Cats and dogs are both pretty good at communicating their needs physically, including saying, “Hey, not now,” when they’re in no mood to have you pawing at them.
They Make Direct Eye Contact
Eye contact is great in lots of situations: job interviews, first dates, and bonding with your baby, to name a few. However, if your dog is making direct eye contact with you, that’s not always a good sign. While research published in the journal Science reveals that eye contact can be an effective means of bonding with your dog, unbroken eye contact on your dog’s part may be a sign they’re trying to assert dominance, feel threatened, or are anxious.
They Avoid You
It’s hard to feel like your pet suddenly doesn’t enjoy your company anymore, but it’s important to listen up if that’s how they’re acting. Pets, particularly those who are anxious, depressed, or have been abused, will regularly ignore their human caretakers. Fortunately, using a calm voice, rewarding good behavior, never hitting or yelling at your pet, and demonstrating plenty of patience can help them feel more secure in no time.
They Won’t Eat
If your pet is suddenly looking at their full bowl of food the way Gwyneth Paltrow might warily observe a Big Mac, that’s a good sign something’s amiss. Pets who are feeling anxious about new animals or people in the home, a change of routine, or are dealing with separation anxiety will often forgo their food in response. However, refusing to eat is also a sign of certain ailments, from bowel obstructions to cancer, so if your pet skips more than one meal, it’s time to check in with a vet.
Their Back Is Arched
A perfectly-arched back may be a boon to your Pilates practice, but it’s not such a good sign in your pet. Cats often arch their backs as a sign of aggression, letting you know that now’s not a good time to pet them. Dogs will do the same if they’re fearful, so it’s best not to aggressively pursue affection if you see them assume such a position. And just remember, chances are you’re assigning more intent to your pet’s behavior than they can actually muster: they’re just trying to be good boys, after all.
“Pets experience a full range of emotions but there isn’t much evidence that they are capable of assigning specific motives, such as anger, directed towards you,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH of Animal Acupuncture. “If you are concerned that your pet seems angry at you, it is likely you are projecting this behavior. However, pets may manifest behaviors that can be interpreted as anger when something else is going on. It is advisable to bring your pet to your primary care veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of such behaviors.” And when you want to understand your preference for one pet or another better, discover Why You’re a Dog Person or Cat Person!
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