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As a pet owner, the phrase, “What do you have in your mouth? Give me that!” is a universal experience, and more than enough to put any fur-parent on instant high alert. Whether it’s a trash-bound treasure, a wayward sock, or a flattened critter by the side of the road, we’ve all had to dig *something* out of that stubborn maw.

Sometimes, we’re lucky, and can merely bat away the impromptu snack without further thought. But for many of us, our faithful companions are just as dedicated to sniffing out trouble — with *magnetic* precision — the instant our back is turned. Because of this, our furry friends often manage to get their paws on something they *really* shouldn’t. And sometimes, they leave us panicked and wondering where we went wrong… and if they’re going to be alright.

But even if your critter isn’t chowing down on everything in sight, you’re still likely finding other casualties within the home instead, left by their talented paws. Shredded furniture, shattered breakables, maybe even a restless propensity to redecorate using a style of *feng shui* yet to be documented by modern man. Each beastie has its own preferred flavour of chaos. So with Lucky going dumpster-diving in search of delicacies, and Whiskers batting every breakable to the floor because *he’s* the only work of art your room needs, how are we supposed to maintain any measure of peace within our homes? And more importantly, how can we stop them from getting into trouble that we *can’t* fix?    

Channel Your Inner Animal

The first step to keeping Tigger and Rex safe from their troublesome curiosity is to start thinking like them. When taking preventative action to keep our animals safe, thinking like a beastie is a critical skill to develop and put into practice. After all, it would be fantastic if we could simply *ask* them to not get into alarming situations, but until we master interspecies communication, a big part of keeping them safe is simply to try and think one step ahead instead.

So start taking the time to notice what your critters get into, and whether it’s at certain times of the day, or before or after certain events. Maybe your cat likes to chew on wires first thing in the morning because he knows it’ll get you awake enough to give him flack for it. And if you’re awake enough to tell him how frustrating he is, then you’re *certainly* awake enough to serve him breakfast! Or maybe your dog starts inching towards the garbage can after a particularly tasty meal—or even worse if he waits until you’re not even home to start digging for goodies. If that’s the case, then it may be time to invest in a locking garbage can.

Whatever the case may be, start taking note of your animal’s natural inclinations, and see your home with a fresh new — and most importantly, wild — gaze. For dogs, you could be sure to pack away any tasty leftovers that may be left unsupervised, keep the garbage can locked tight, and hide any socks or slippers that may be lying around. If you share your home with feline friends instead, you could keep an eye out for any breakables near the edges of tables, shelves, or countertops, take the time to reorganize any exposed wires that could be satisfying to chew on, or even cover your couch with a plastic furniture guard that stops them from digging their claws into the material.  

Whatever the case may be, there are always solutions to your woes. Start by doing some research on the common challenges that other pet owners face. This will help you familiarize yourself with situations you may already be dealing with yourself and give you peace of mind in knowing that you’re not the only one whose home is going to the dogs.

Are You Not Entertained?

“The cure for boredom is curiosity.” Dorothy Parker was talking about people when she said this famous quote, but this method of thinking applies just as well to our furry friends. A bored pet will do whatever it takes to get the satisfaction they need. Maybe Rex howls like a banshee and chews the furniture to keep himself busy, while Whiskers finds his entertainment in singlehandedly destroying your snowglobe collection and shredding the furniture. The point is that if we don’t give our animals something to do, they will *find* something — and more often than not, it won’t be something we like.

Thankfully, there are many ways to exhaust your pets enough to be sure they won’t leave your home looking like the epicentre of a hurricane.

One sure way is to work their bodies. Get them running, jumping and playing, for a good hour or two, every single day. And yes, cats need their exercise, too, even if their one true love is naptime! There are also interactive feeders to get them using their snout or paws, and contrary to popular belief, many animals absolutely love working for their food, once they understand how to use interactive feeders. But the more you make mealtime dynamic and fun and make your pet work for their primary currency in an interesting and rewarding way, the less chance they have of finding their fun elsewhere. Everybody wins!

For critters who need to stay within a limited mobility lifestyle for any reason, you can still tucker them out without doing an entire marathon around town. Teach them new tricks, ones you can practice anywhere you go. By working their brains, you’ll get their entire body involved, which is just as good for solving any amount of restlessness. Start with short sessions, no more than five minutes at a time, as you teach them a handy new trick, like ‘shake’ or ‘spin.’ Once your pet has mastered the basics, you can level up their skills to something more difficult. If ever you’re not sure what to teach, pet trick compilation videos online are a fantastic source of inspiration for what they could learn next. 

And, once again, this method is most certainly cat-friendly as well — and makes for a fantastic party trick when you show off your talented tabby’s fresh new skills!  

Communication Is Key

An important part of prevention, though, is keeping in mind that if your curious critter has already managed to get into trouble once, they have exceptionally keen memories of how to recreate the magic. So instead of losing your patience with them — which, for many pets, gives them the attention, they’re seeking from you — remember that your energy will be better spent looking to the future, and troubleshooting a solution to prevent it from happening again.

After all, if our pets are acting out, it’s not that they’re trying to be difficult. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’re trying to tell us that their mental or physical needs aren’t being met, or that they’re not getting as much quality time with us as they would like. Or, in some cases, simply that they don’t understand the rules of the household well enough to follow them. So it’s important to listen during these frustrating moments because our furry friends are only trying to tell us what they need, in the only way they know how. 

And in turn, it’s up to us to find a way to communicate what *we* need back to them, in a way that they might better understand.