Updated 7/3/17 from an article originally published 3/5/2015.
Even if you have a strict no-pets-on-furniture policy, your pets are bound to get into things they shouldn’t. Of course, a lot dogs are happiest welcomed on the couch and most cats adore sleeping at the foot of your bed.
But, rules are rules, right? Sorry to say, but preventing your dog from jumping on the couch isn’t necessarily going to protect it. If you’re in doubt, watch this video. Pet owners need to be diligent about pet-proofing their home if they want to maintain the lifespan of their furniture and belongings.
These tips will help you protect furniture from pets, clean items that have hard to remove pet odors, and keep your home tidy — relatively speaking.
1. Be proactive with your pets.
Curbing negative pet behavior before it happens is different than creating blanket rules like staying off the bed. If you are proactive with your pets, you can more effectively address some common behavioral problems before they happen.
Make it a point to give your pets the following:
- Regular exercise. When pets feel stifled or bored, they may act out. Imagine if you were locked in your house all day, every day. Take your dog outside regularly for walks, runs and some good-natured horseplay. If you don’t want your cats going outdoors, you can work them into a frenzy with laser pointers, balls of paper and string. Cats are surprisingly easy to entertain.
- Toys. Give your dog toys to chew and your cat toys to chase or wrestle. If your pet is mentally and physically engaged throughout the day, it will be less likely to act out.
- Attention. Hey, you’re busy — I understand. Your pet, however, does not. If you ignore your dog or cat, it will find ways to get your attention. Even negative feedback is better than being ignored. This is particularly important when your dog or cat is disoriented while moving or relocating.
- Discipline. Physical discipline is a terrible idea, but someone has to be the grown-up in your relationship with your pets (hint: it’s you). Set rules and boundaries and enforce these regulations with stern words, loss of privileges and, in particularly tough cases, a spray bottle filled with cold water.
- Space. Create a space just for your pet in the form of a dog bed or cat tower. Incentivise your pet to pick this area to lounge over the couch. For a dog, praise them when they are on the bed and offer them a special bone or treat. For a cat, position the space in front of a window with plenty of sunlight and a view.
2. Stop pets scratching and chewing furniture.
No, cats aren’t being spiteful when they lay into the back of your favorite chair. Among the numerous reasons a cat might scratch the life out of your favorite armchair, a few include marking their scent, stretch their paws, and shedding the outer layer of their claws. They might just want attention, too.
Also, digging comes naturally to dogs, whose canine ancestors lived outdoors and liked to literally “dig in” when settling down for a rest. Unfortunately, this instinct can now manifest itself on your couch, chairs or bed with upholstery-shredding results.
How to keep cats from scratching furniture:
Look, your cat is going to scratch. The trick is to direct that energy in a positive direction. Set up scratching posts in your home and show your cat how to use it (don’t worry, your cat will pick it up pretty fast). Praise and reward your cat for using the posts. If the cat begins scratching furniture, gently but firmly say “No” and bring the cat to the nearest post.
Remember: Don’t skimp on the scratching post. As Lifehacker’s Jason Fitzpatrick points out, “The most important characteristic (of a scratching post) is weight. If a scratching post or climbing tree feels wobbly or unsteady, the cat will almost always abandon using it. Make sure that any scratching post you intend to build or purchase will be stable enough to present a sturdy scratching surface.”
How to stop dogs from digging:
Dogs scratching furniture are tougher to stop because they are hardwired to dig. If you have a digging dog, the best solution is to a.) train Rufus from getting on the furniture, and b.) give him a comfortable bed that features lots of layers so he can dig to his heart’s content. Many dogs will dig when they are tired — make sure to firmly (vocally) tell the dog “No” and lead it to its bed. In fact, the ASPCA recommends having a bed in each room of your home.
Remember: Training a dog can be frustrating because it can sometimes take weeks for a behavior to change, but hang in there — if you quit mid-training or back down, you’ll just have a confused dog that likes to ruin your furniture.
3. Protect your furniture, literally.
Don’t underestimate the power of keeping your couches and chairs covered. There are a lot stylish slipcover options on the market that are a world away from the clear plastic ones we may remember. Even a large fleece blanket is better than nothing. The fleece will trap a lot of fur, and you can easily remove and launder as often as needed.
4. Remove pet odors on a bi-monthly basis.
If you want to own pets and have a well-kept home, regular housekeeping will need to be a priority. Like laundry or doing the dishes, removing pet odors (and fur) will feel like a never ending chore. It is. But it’s still important to keep up on it. You should vacuum, sweep and remove pet dander and fur weekly (and at times, daily).
For tough pet odors, follow this routine:
First, remove the covers and cushions from all of your furniture and vacuum each piece thoroughly. Launder everything that can fit in the washing machine with a strong detergent and a splash of apple cider vinegar.
Next, sprinkle baking soda all over the furniture. Use a brush to get the baking soda into those nooks and crannies. Let the baking soda sit for a good eight-to-12 hours, then vacuum it up.
Finally — if your dog or cat has done a particularly good job at spreading its scent — consider renting commercial cleaners or hiring professional services to scrub your furniture and carpet once every few months. Now don’t forget to brush and bathe your pets as often as is recommended for your breed.
5. Clean pet stains as soon as possible.
The smell is as distinguishable as it is potent. Unless you’re really lucky, a little urine (or other stain) will make its way onto a pet owner’s floors and furniture. Which is why a really common question is how do you clean pet stains?
“Soak up as much of the urine as possible with a combination of newspaper and paper towels,” recommends The Humane Society of the United States. “The more fresh urine you can remove before it dries, especially from carpet, the easier it will be to remove the odor. Place a thick layer of paper towels on the wet spot, and cover that with a thick layer of newspaper. If possible, put newspaper under the soiled area as well. Stand on this padding for about a minute. Remove the padding, and repeat the process until the area is barely damp.”
A great tip for cleaning pet stains on furniture: Use hydrogen peroxide.
Do you have hints or tips for protecting furniture from your pets? Please share in the Comments section below or tweet us @LifeStorage today.