Like all good mums and dads know, baby-proofing your home is step #1 on the road to good parenting. And pet parenting is no different. Pet proofing your home is not just for your pet. It’s for your peace of mind.
No one wants woof or meow eating strange and un-diet-y foods or objects that could harm them. And keeping your home intact will keep you and fur baby happy.
Let’s look at how to go about pet proofing your home.
Pet proofing your home by training your pet
Your pet is probably your biggest ally in pet proofing your home and training is key. Training him/her not to pee on your carpet, shred your couch or catnap on your bed makes for purrfect pet-proofing.
Training is not only a way of showing love, it also reinforces a sense of belonging and trust. You will either need a professional pet trainer or know-how and endurance. Or both.
Even if a trainer lays down the basic laws, you’ll still need to take over command. Because you’re the one who’s there at bedtime and first thing in the morning. Training requires repetition and confidence.
So, do whatever is required, drink another espresso and tighten your belt. And get ready to repeat yourself, a lot. You’ll be saying things like “no”, “well done” and “good boy/girl” like it’s your new mantra. You may feel like a stuck record but in the long run it’s worth it.
You can also turn to treats to reward good behaviour. Rewarding good behaviour never hurt anyone.
However, if you’re a new pet parent, your fur baby will be new to your home and won’t yet know where to go (and where not to go). Until the training becomes second nature, there are real physical dangers. Like toilet bowls, stove-tops and stairs.
As affectionate and adorable as being licked is, it’s not good for anyone’s complexion to be licked after a long drink from the toilet bowl. Ahem.
So bring in the physical barriers!
Pet proofing for dogs
Dogs and cats have evolved to connect with humans through different hunting and eating habits. As a result, each shows their affection in unique ways.
While dogs evolved through eating human scraps, cats were first attracted by rats and mice who ate our food supplies. And stylistically this often comes through. Dogs want to be humans, while cats simply don’t mind us being around (most of the time).
As a result, dogs really get stuck in. They really want to know (and taste) what a couch is and why we need one. Or they make sure to ‘touch’ each beautiful object. Much like running a finger over a beautiful painting, a dog will brush each crystal vase with a boisterous tail.
Hence, a good way to physically pet proof your home furnishings and other areas for dogs is as follows:
- Chew toys – its either household belongings or a toy. Easy choice.
- Throws – cover couches with thick material to avoid having to reupholster later.
- Rearrange – as with small children, move all loose objects away from edges.
If you want to A-grade your pet proofing for puppies, DIY stores also sell protective coverings for furniture. And remember, a puppy chews not for fun, but to keep its gums and teeth healthy. So, chew toys are no luxury!
Pet proofing for cats
While catsalways land on their feet and are less likely to knock things over, a little double-sided tape on the family heirlooms never hurt anyone. Cats have strong urges to wrap around things and tend to wave their tales when upset. If you’re nodding and re inundated with kitty furballs, read our PD guide on how to remove pet fur.
A biggie with cats is claw sharpening. If you don’t have wooded trees in your garden, be sure to get yourself a free-standing scratching post early on.
One big complaint cat owners have is their cat scratching their couch. If this is you, check out sticky tape made for couch corners or plastic protectors. There’s also natural deterrent spray and natural attracting spray that can work hand in hand with these – to guide the cat away from your furnishings and towards their scratching post.
Much like dogs must chew, cats must sharpen claws. These are just basic necessities.
You can use these sprays on your benchtops and other areas that cats like to climb but humans don’t appreciate having cat hair (or even worse) on
Potty training your pets
Potty training pooch or meow can be quite easy. Simply scratch at the litterbox with fur baby’s paw to show him or her where to go. Do this first thing in the morning and right after meals. If your cat or dog has a garden to go in, even better. Take them out at those same times and show them they can scratch at the sand.
However, your cat may enjoy scratching at your veggie garden, or under your prize roses. Don’t despair, you can spruce up your garden’s aroma and repel kitty with the same plants. Rosemary, lavender and lemon balm are natural cat deterrents and lovely scents for us humans to have around the home.
All baby animals signal when they are ready to make a number one or two. So, look out for cues. As soon as you see the cue, lead the way to the litter! Look out for sudden circling, sniffing or whining which could be the cue. If you don’t notice these cues, you’re not alone. Those who are just lucky.
If your fur baby continues to, or increasingly, poos or pees in the wrong places despite tons of training, a visit to the vet might be needed. Frequent inappropriate soiling is generally a sign that a pet baby is not feeling well. And this can happen at all ages! Happily, medication and visits to the vet are all covered by our comprehensive pet plans.
How to pet proof your home 101
So, let’s make sure we cover all the territory. Here is a comprehensive list of actions for pet proofing your home for cats and dogs:
- Toilets – put the lid down so pooch stays healthy and kitten doesn’t fall in!
- Doors – keep appliance doors closed (washers/dryers) and close doors to no-access rooms.
- Lids – the general rule is “keep closed.” Rubbish bins, food tubs and buckets all count.
- Plugs – very dangerous for plugs or cords to get chewed on, so secure these well. Cover plugs and fasten or tape down cords.
- Poison – lots of human things are dangerous to pets. Pack away detergents, mothballs, hair dye, batteries, and medicine. You may have to train yourself to do this, but it’s worth it! Old fireworks and firework debris can be poisonous too. Keep a lookout for these especially over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
- Windows – if you live in an apartment or multi-storied house, close the windows on the upper levels. Of course, this may not be healthy in summer, so consider a window screen.
- Tools – always unplug and pack away. A tool that’s still connected to the socket stands a chance of being switched on, even by accident.
- Garden – don’t use pesticides or chemical compost. Cats and dogs love to dig and taste all garden varietals.
- Car – never ever drive before checking under your car and around your wheels. A parked car often creates a warm pocket of air – which is very inviting to pets to sit in.
- Fences – check your perimeter. Are you sure there are no holes in or under the fence? If your fence is a hedge you may need to fortify with a proper fence or wall.
If you have ticked your checklist, well done! And remember, preparing beforehand is not only about physical security. It also eases your mind and lets you enjoy hanging out with your pet without unnecessary distractions. Think of it as your personal pet insurance.
The truth about cats and dogs (and humans!)
That said and done, we all know our pets can see beyond our proofing. They know we’re only human after all. And despite our best loving efforts, sometimes pets do still get sick. The best way to pet proof your pet is with comprehensive cat insurance and dog insurance.
That’s the final tick on your checklist!
Pet proofing your home – over to you
Ever had a hair-ball-raising moment with your feline friend? Or maybe discovered your favourite shoes have been turned into the dog’s breakfast? We’d love to know more. Share a line below or post a pic on our Facebook page with your top tips for pet proofing your home!