Everyone knows the joys of owning a pet. Love, companionship, protection and just being fun make having a pet a joy. But it is not all fun and games, is it. Unfortunately, a large part of my day is spent discussing how to address issues we have with our companion animals.
Many people think that some pets actually enjoy driving us crazy. And while some do bad things to gain attention, for most, being “bad” is a combination of natural behaviour and not having an outlet for that behaviour.
Many of these actions can be remedied by simply removing the opportunity to be bad. Taking away an object, moving it to a place it can’t be reached, or making it unattractive to the pet are all simple solutions to resolving conflict.
If the item is something that is not needed, removing it or replacing it with an item that is not attractive to pet is an easy fix. We got some seagrass baskets, and Streaky decided they are the perfect scratching area. Changing then from seagrass to fabric ones stopped that behaviour. We could have tried an number of things to stop the behaviour, but this is by far the simplest solution.
When removing the object is not possible, restricting access to it can be an easy fix. For instance, cord chewing is a common complaint. Some cats and dogs find cords an irresistible opportunity for trouble. Blocking access to the area behind the TV/Stereo can remove the temptation. Either with a physical barrier, or with a deterrent (there are sprays that pets find distasteful, and there are products like the X Mat or Scat Mat that have either pokey spikes or a static charge that stops the animal from accessing the area). Alternately, you can lift the cables up out of the reach of the animal, or run them into the cabinet, limiting the amount of exposed cable.
In the case of chewing, you can also make the item unappetizing by the application of various sprays, gels or home remedies. Finding a taste that is loathed by the animal is key, these tastes are either something extremely bitter, or extremely hot. They don’t all work the same on all animals, each may have different tastes. Just like how we all have that friend that can drink pure Tobasco, some animals like the taste of certain deterrents, so finding one they detest is key.
There are also guards you can buy to protect cables, and even something as simple as wrapping the cable in tinfoil can work. But don’t use tinfoil on power cords, please, for obvious reasons.
Chewing is one problem, but cats and even some dogs also destroy our items by scratching. This is a much harder behaviour to curb, because we can’t use a taste deterrent. There are the sprays I mentioned (you can spray them directly on an item (test on an inconspicuous area first), or on a piece of cloth which is then placed near the area) that make the area unappealing, and the mats that can protect the item, and these do work well. If they are not an option, then there are protectants you can apply, like a 2 way tape or tinfoil, to stop cats from scratching an item, but again, try it first on an inconspicuous area.
Training is also an option. The good old spray bottle is a favourite deterrent, the only problem is that you have to be there to spray. Once you leave, its open season on the couch. Dogs can usually be trained away from bad behaviour with a little effort, cats though, well, they’re cats.
The most important thing is to address the problem immediately, and continue working until it is resolved. If you don’t, the behaviour will become normalized, and fixing the issue will be much more difficult.