Pet-proofing your home is one of the most responsible things you can do when either moving house or bringing home a pet for the first time. This is of course, after getting them desexed (if required), vaccinated and registered with your local council.
As cute as cats and dogs are, they can be far more destructive than goldfish and other smaller animals, so this will mostly focus on those species and hopefully you can prevent your most lovable asset from destroying your most valuable assets.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to help mitigate any damage done. This can be both a mix of changing your own behaviour and maybe buying a few things from your local or online pet shop.
1. Scratch Proofing
Cats in particular love scratching things. Whilst there’s several different reasons why cats scratch things and it’s totally natural, you don’t want cats doing this to your furniture.
Give it something new to scratch
Identify the traits of the furniture that is being damaged and try and find something similar to place nearby. E.g. something of similar colour or texture, such as a scratching post wrapped in rope or made of cardboard. Ensure this is something strong and stable that won’t fall over when the cat interacts with it.
Make the furniture less appealing
Find a way to cover the furniture in something that will either smell or feel unpleasant to the cat. This could be something with an unappealing texture such as double-sided tape or sandpaper or could also be an old blanket of some sort.
Over time slowly move the scratching post further and further away from the furniture, but ideally keep it close enough that it will remain its favourite scratching spot. Only then should you remove the texture or scented cover.
2. Keep Bins Secure
This is pretty simple, but both cats and dogs can get into your bins whilst on the search for food, especially if you leave them inside all day and forget to feed them. Depending on the breed, you should ensure your bins are out of their reach. This could be on the worktop if you have a dog, or in a cupboard under the sink if you have a cat. You can also use smaller bins with lids in your bathrooms and other rooms.
3. Bathroom hazards
It’s only really once you’ve had a cat or dog that you realise why some people put their toilet paper on backwards, leaving it out the designed way can make the flappy paper a curious toy for an inquisitive pet.
Hang your bathroom floor mat up. Some pets like to urinate on damp bathroom mats.
Keep the toilet lid down or keep the door shut at all times. Both cats and dogs may drink from the toilet and they put their feet in the bowl and then walk everywhere and it’s just unsanitary.
4. Put everything away
Pets, especially puppies may try and eat anything including things that humans wouldn’t even think to eat. Your pets can be good motivators for keeping your home tidy. This means that anything hazardous to your pet or any of your belongings that you do not want to be destroyed should be out of your pets reach, you should also consider moving any decorations that you keep low to the ground.
5. Be careful with doors and windows.
Some cats might claw at flyscreens when they want to go outside. You may need to be careful how wide you open windows are if you’re trying to let in fresh air. The cat might decide they want to go through it.
If you have an indoor cat, pay very close attention when exiting the house and do not leave doors open if you do not want your much loved pet to wander outside. Some cats can be hard to bring back inside once they have been exploring.
Dogs are usually easier to catch if they run outside if they’re well trained although it’s not worth the risk as pets are known to go missing. A cat will most probably ignore you so more care is needed with this animal.
6. Doggy doors
If your pet is trained to take themselves outside dog doors are a great way to avoid any unwanted accidents. If you have a high energy dog, even the best trained can make a mess in your house if you forget to let him out for the bathroom or routine energy release. You can actually buy dog doors that suit almost any type of door these days, including glass sliding doors so you’re bound to find one that suits your home. This of course applies to cats as well but as mentioned above, some carts are harder to bring home once let out.
7. Give them their own space
If your pet sheds regularly or generally smells bad and your worried about ruining furniture, you can give them their own blanket to rest over and cover the material. If you have an indoor cat, place their litter box, food bowl and water away from each other or the cat will reject them. If you have a dog, make sure you feed them in the same place away from anything that can be ruined.
Most cats and dogs should be trained well enough to behave inside your home, and completing research prior to purchasing your pet (for example, choosing the right breed of dog for apartment-living) can have a huge impact on how much pet-proofing you may need to do. As a pet owner, it up to you to put in place preventative measures to minimise the chance of your pets causing problems. It might take a few months to get used to new processes, but over time, your pet and your personal belongings will be much better off.