Take one look at the viral blog, Pet Shaming, and it’s difficult to retain any illusions about our furry friends. Love them as we may, they will make a mess of the house when left to their own devices, and they might make themselves very ill in the process. To enjoy the most of your pet (and your home), it’s best to take action with these top 5 pet proofing strategies.
1. See What Your Pet Sees
It’s next to impossible to defend against your pet’s impulses without know just what it is that will tempt them. That’s right, it’s time to get right down to your pet’s level. Replace any uncovered trash cans with their covered counterparts, and get your family into the habit of closing the toilet lid. Keep your eyes peeled for any tempting strings and low-hanging curtains, and remove any scrumptious-looking buttons or wires from snout-level.
Designate a good, inaccessible place for storing plastic bags (a major choking hazard), and keep that garage or unfinished basement free of nails. In the kitchen, keep the floor swept free from coffee grinds, chocolate, and other potentially poisonous foods. And, speaking of poisons, talk to your vet before putting down any rat or ant poison, which can sicken your pet before it reaches its intended target.
One of the best ways to pet proof your home is by training your pet to be his own enforcer. Doing so, however, will depend on you setting your own boundaries. In some homes, jumping on that brand new kids furniture, will be a major no, while other pet owners won’t mind giving their pets free reign. Just keep the rules consistent in your home to avoid confusing your pet. You may want to consider closing the door to pet-free rooms that store, say, your fine antiques, and, if you have a doggy or cat door, you can also train your pets to head out for potty breaks on their own.
While you’ll want to pick up a training manual for the most in-depth tips, one thing to keep in mind is that you’ll only want to reprimand your pet for immediate infractions when they know for sure what they’ve done. If, for instance, you come home to a puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor, your pet may have long ago moved on, and will only find your harsh tone far more confusing. Wait to reward your pet for proper potty behavior later on.
3. Make a Few Renovations
You may love that thick, plush carpeting, but you won’t be nearly as enamored after a few accidents. Consider replacing carpet with easy to clean hardwood or linoleum. One caveat here: older pets can have trouble walking on slick surfaces, so in this case you might want to consider carpet tiles, which are easily removed and replaced in the locality of the spill. Other potential renovations and additions include ramps for aging pets, plastic covers for claw-level wood and double-sided tape for tempting cushions, and even using the bottom drawer of a dresser to hide food dishes and save space.
4. Don’t Forget the Yard
If you’ve got an outdoor-going pet, don’t forget to keep that yard up to spec. Make sure any fences are dug deeply enough, particularly for breeds genetically programmed for burrowing. Test gate latches regularly to make sure they’re up to the job, and examine your fences for any potential holes or weaknesses. Install a long leash if you don’t have a fence so your pet can wander around the yard without you having to be there. Take the time to research plants that are poisonous to your pet and make sure you remove them.
5. Make Concessions to Animal Nature
Hey, animals are animals, and trying to train every instinct out of them is a futile endeavor, if not cruel. The best way to pet proof your home is to know the tendencies of your animal, individual, or breed. Cats, for instance, will do well withscratching pads and cat towers; in fact, give them a beautiful castle, and they just might stop mounting your book case and knocking down plants. Likewise, athletic, intelligent herding dogs will do far less damage to your home if you tire them out with exercise and engage their minds with challenges. Pay attention to pet psychology, and you’ll find a lot more respect paid to your possessions in turn.
With these top 5 tips, your home should stay as spotless as can be. Well, maybe not spotless, but at least a cozy niche for the whole family to enjoy. Fido, too.
Dog photo courtesy of Shutterstock