Bringing a pet into your house is a big decision. Pets can bring a lot of joy into your home and family, but–particularly during the training period–they can be a menace to your carpets, upholstery, and furniture. That said, don’t let a fear of home damage stop you from investing in another family member! All it takes is a little knowledge and advance preparation to keep your pets happy and your house intact.
Possibly the single most important element in protecting your house is investing in training your pet well. It can be a serious time commitment, but it is essential to keeping a happy balance in your house. If you don’t have the time to train your pet, it is likely worth investing in hiring a professional. Housetrain your pets as soon as possible to avoid stains on your carpet. Some accidents will be unavoidable. Fortunately, there are a wide range of products and pet carpet cleaners designed to quickly remove stains and dissipate odors.
Happy pets are also less likely to relieve themselves where they aren’t supposed to. If your otherwise well-trained pet has suddenly started making messes in the house or outside the litterbox, it could be a sign of stress or sickness. Consider whether there have been any changes to your pet’s lifestyle or any other symptoms of illness. A vet might be able to help you fix unusual behaviors like this one.
Cat scratch fever
If you’re considering a cat, you should go in knowing that cats have an innate need to maintain their claws, and they do this by scratching. Some cats are declawed to avoid scratching damage, but several animal organizations consider this inhumane. The simplest way to protect your furniture from cat claws and simultaneously keep your cat’s paws healthy and intact is to invest in a scratching post. Depending on your cat’s personality, they might prefer a scratching mat or another surface. Experiment to find what your cat likes best!
Reward your cat for scratching where you want him/her to, and gently discourage scratching furniture. Scolding a pet retroactively is not effective, so it’s best to keep a close eye on your pet until you’re confident that they will only scratch where you want them to. Also, keep in mind that most cats will want a tough surface to scratch, not something soft or too easy to destroy. Cats love a challenge, and a rough surface to scratch does their claws the most good.
Just as cats have a need to scratch, many dogs have a deep urge to chew, dig, or otherwise do some destruction. Keep your dog happy and healthy and your home (and shoes!) intact by keeping a steady supply of dog toys on hand. Many dog toys are designed to endure a serious chewing, and will last for a good amount of time. Make sure to replace them as they are destroyed, though, or your dog might resort to chewing other things.
Another very effective way to protect your home is to keep your dog well-exercised. Depending on the breed, some dogs, particularly those with high energy levels or who are very intelligent, need to be kept busy or they will often resort to destruction. Exercise your dog thoroughly as often as you can, and with some luck they will be tired and content afterwards, and will have less of a desire to take out their energy on your house. On this note, it is important to do your research before adopting a dog. If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to exercising your dog, this is a crucial aspect of dog ownership to keep in mind. Some dogs just won’t be happy with little exercise or a small yard, and will likely act out because of it. Make sure you know your dog’s breed before you bring it home!