9 Quick Tips to Pet- Proof Your Home

Prevent your adorable furball from turning your home upside down with chewing, scratching and accidents.

He’s man’s best friend and she’s a comforting purr machine. They’re both treasured family members, but they need a little help to keep from getting into mischief. Here are some quick and easy ways you can make your home—and theirs—safer, cleaner and more organized.

Get down to your pet’s level. When you’re on your hands and knees, you’ll suddenly notice things from your pet’s point of view. Like tantalizing wires and electrical cords, toy and game pieces, loose string, candy wrappers or coins and pills that may have dropped and rolled out of sight. (A single acetaminophen tablet can kill an adult cat.) Check those places where your vacuum cleaner couldn’t reach—your puppy or kitten can squeeze in there—and block off any small spaces and crevices.

An open and shut case. Cats and kittens are attracted to dark enclosures, so look carefully before closing drawers and closets. Consider adding child-proof locks to cabinets for particularly agile puppies and kittens. A friend remembers the morning she could hear her cat meowing but couldn’t find her…until she finally opened the clothes dryer. (Luckily, the cat was fine, despite the static cling.)

Watch out for the puddle! Accidents will happen. Scolding, sticking his nose into the stain or swatting him with a newspaper will only confuse your puppy. And it could make him think you just don’t want to see him peeing. (Then your pup might seek out more hidden locations, like behind the sofa.) To a puppy, the mess and the act are unrelated. Say a sharp “no!” when you catch him going indoors; then immediately take the puppy outside and stay out until he goes again. Then praise him lavishly and consider giving him a treat to help the behavior along.

Chew on this. Dogs chew to explore their world. And that can mean anything from your favorite shoes to a corner of your furniture. You can prevent this by making sure closet doors are closed and keeping things off the floor. Also, many dogs don’t like the taste of lemon or bitter apple—try spraying pet-safe products in these flavors on tempting chewables.

With a puppy, try to keep him from getting bored—and therefore getting into trouble. Or use child-safety gates to keep him in a pet-friendly room or in a place where you can easily keep an eye on him.

Scat cat! A cat can jump seven times the height of its tail! So when cleaning countertops, be sure to use antibacterial products that will kill bacteria that can be tracked in on your kitten’s paws.

Scratch that idea. Cats need to scratch to claim their territory and exercise the muscles and tendons of their paws—and they won’t know which is your prized sofa. You can use double-stick tape on upholstery (test it first to make sure it won’t leave a mark or stain) because cats hate things that stick to their fur. Declawing involves removing the claw at the knuckle—a more humane alternative is to place scratching posts close to where she eats and sleeps. And get your kitten used to having her nails clipped as a youngster by rewarding her with praise and treats.

Put a lid on it. For some reason, your toilet looks like a thirst-quenching punch bowl to many cats and dogs. Unfortunately, some chemicals in cleaning products can make your pet ill. Be sure to keep the lid down or add a toilet lid lock and keep the bathroom door closed.

Training camp begins at home. Praise good behavior with a treat and distract your pet from less desirable behavior. Most pets are food-focused, so keep small treats or kibble on hand in a small container so you’re ready with praise and a reward.