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Help! My pet is destroying my home

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Dogs are man’s best friends. But this may not be the case when it comes to your home. Between hair, urine and weird behaviors, your pet can wreak some serious havoc on your dwelling. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to deal with the damage by either changing the behavior or changing your home.

Damaging electronics: To stop curious critters from chewing on power cords, simple cable management may be the key. If wrangling all the cords together neatly doesn’t deter them, hide the tempting wires away in a plastic cable management channel that attaches to the floor or wall and can be found at most office supply stores. And every cat owner knows that the best heater in the house is always an open laptop. One way to prevent cats from flopping down on your keyboard is to use an angled laptop desk or stand.

Shedding everywhere: When it comes to clothes or other washable items, start by lint-rolling before and after items go into the washer. If that’s too labor-intensive or doesn’t do the trick, try a pet-specific detergent, which combats hair better than the standard varieties. For larger pieces of furniture, one easy preventive measure is to use washable throw blankets anywhere your pet frequents to help corral the pesky fuzz (and quickly whisk it away when company arrives). To remove pet hair from unwashable fabrics, though, put on a latex or rubber glove and rub your hand across the fabric to gather up the fur.

Scratching furniture: It turns out cats don’t tear up furniture just to infuriate you. It’s actually a way of marking territory. (Trust us, it beats what dogs do.) The first step to stopping this behavior is making sure your cat has a place they can scratch, such as a scratching post. Then stop them from revisiting their old scratching grounds with such products as scented spray or double-sided tape — both make scratching unpleasant so your feline friend will give it a rest. It’s not likely scratching can be stopped completely — it’s a very strong instinctive behavior — so in order to prevent too much damage, trim kitty’s claws or invest in claw covers (which look a bit like acrylic nails for cats — bonus!).

Going in the wrong spot: If Fido or Fluffy is relieving himself on the carpets, it’s probably not out of defiance. Cats may be very picky about the location of their litter box, and multiple cats may each want their own. Dogs, on the other hand, may be going indoors to mark their territory, or because they really need to relieve themselves. If it’s the latter, you may need to go for more frequent walks or hire a dog sitter or walker. If you’re not seeing puddles of urine (which would indicate that the dog truly needed to go), it’s likely the former. Dog marking is a complicated behavior — and worth talking to your vet or trainer about — but in general it is helped by neutering and should not be punished, as the dog probably won’t understand.

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