Now we’re paying: dog trainers and animal behaviourists are reporting overwhelming surges in interest. But whether your house rabbit is undermining your housekeeping efforts or the pekingese is staging post-pandemic protests – don’t panic. Our panel of experts – from aquatic vets to dog therapists – is here to help.
Use a Roll of Packing Tape to Pick Up Loose Pet Fur. Do your clothes pick up dog hair like crazy? Don’t have a lint roller on hand? One of my favorite life hacks for dog owners is using packing tape to pick off all that dog hair that gets all over your clothes.
Since I’ve gone back to the office, I keep coming home to find that my cat haspeed on my bed.What’s going on?
Defecating and elimination outside a designated litter box is a sign of discontentment, communicating that they are either not happy or are stressed by something (medical or psychological).
It can be a coping mechanism; leaving scent in various areas makes them feel safe. Your first port of call should be your vet, to rule out medical problems. Then, contact a behaviourist (try the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association) for a home visit. Once they have a definitive diagnosis they will set out a plan for you to follow to resolve this problem.
My (female) cat adores my husband but hates me.Is she trying to oust me, and how can I fixthis?
I am sure your cat doesn’t hate you; she wouldn’t even understand that emotional state. Cats choose their favourite people for a variety of reasons, from liking their natural odour, or that person either sitting in the spot they like or being the one who usually feeds them. Sometimes, it’s also to do with the cat’s background – traumas can alter how they respond to their new guardians. So: how to fix it. Become the cat’s only feeder, start to play more with her, and oust your husband from his favourite armchair. Failing this, you might just have to accept your cat prefers his company. Sorry.
This softens the kibble and makes the food much easier to chew.
My once docile cat keeps trying to nip our baby (who, in fairness, quite likes to grab the cat’s tail).
Cats and babies are a delicate balance. Babies cry loudly, take away Mum and Dad’s attention, leave all kinds of new smells around the home and – yes – like to grab body parts. I would invest in a few cat towers or climbers, to help your cat get up high and out of the reach of tiny hands. Then your cat can relax while adapting to the small new alien in their territory. In the meantime, as your baby grows, it can be shown how to play gently using long rod toys, gentle pats on the back and treats in the hand.
I think my dog may be sexist. He barks at men, especially those in hoodies. What can I do?
While not sexist, dogs absolutely can discriminate – fears can be related to gender, age or skin tone, and usually stem from an early negative experience. Start off by giving him lots of treats every time you see any men at a distance (saving something especially delicious for gents in hoodies). He’ll start to pair the sight of a man with something positive. In the meantime, just remember to keep plenty of space between you and those scary men. Proximity can be built up over time.
Pet proof your house. To keep your pet healthy you should research what household products and foods can harm your pet. Make sure these are kept in secure locations so your pet cannot get into them.
Last month, we sent our dog to kennels for the first time. When we picked him up, he seemed low. I thought he was sulking but, a month later, I worry he’s depressed. How can we cheer him up?
First things first – get him checked by the vets to ensure no hidden injury or sickness was picked up while he was away. Staying somewhere new, away from creature comforts and trusted humans, can be really tough. Think of things he enjoys doing, and try to do a few of them every day to boost his mood. Sniffing, playing and chewing are all great activities for creating feelgood vibes. For next time, it’s worth looking into a trusted home pet sitter.
My rescue dog insists on humping other dogs. He’s already been neutered. What to do?Interestingly, humping isn’t always related to sexual activity. It can be displayed when a dog is stressed, or even be a sign of an underlying health issue. In the short term, interrupt play regularly (start with every 20 seconds) to turn your dog’s focus away from the other dog and towards you or some scattered treats. If your dog gets easily overexcited during play, teach him a new word that means they have to look at you in order to earn a delicious treat immediately. Start teaching it at home where things are calm, before slowly taking it out into the world of distractions.Caroline Wilkinson, dog behaviourist, dog yoga practitioner and founder of digital pet-coaching service, Barket Place
Use a Magic Eraser to Get Rid of Drool Marks. Does your drool a lot? If so you’ve probably got a bunch of drool marks all over the house. You can say goodbye to scrubbing off those drool marks by getting yourself some magic erasers.
FishMy goldfish tank smells, despite constant cleaning. Is there an aquatic equivalent to Febreze?The majority of aquarium smells are due to an excess in organic waste, such as fish faeces and uneaten food, and subsequent bacterial blooms. Goldfish are messy creatures and will pollute a tank quickly if not maintained. Start by checking water quality to confirm whether the filter is adequately processing waste. If waste levels are high, assess your tank for overfeeding and overstocking – as a rule of thumb you should allow 20 gallons (90 litres) per goldfish.
Generally, I recommend a partial water change of 20% to 50% weekly, making sure to siphon the substrate at the bottom of the tank where organic material collects. The closest and safest option we have to Febreze is running activated carbon in the filter unit, which does an excellent job at binding odour-causing pollutants.My boyfriend insists our goldfish need stimulation. He buys them new ornaments monthly and last week I caught him ‘rearranging their furniture’. Is he right?Fish are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. Israeli scientists have just conducted a study which found that goldfish, in a tank on wheels, were able to navigate themselves around a room – an amazing demonstration of spatial awareness and cognitive function. Other studies have shown preferences in goldfish to spend more time in enriched stimulating environments, which to me indicates some level of benefit or enjoyment. Alternative forms of stimulation include a varied diet, live plants and hand feeding.Dr Bryony Chetwynd-Glover, director of London Aquatic Veterinary Services
This is a copycat version of the kind made by Greenies.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. Children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
Rabbits and rodents
Last year, wegot a sweethouse rabbit,but she chews everything from the carpet to the table legs. Please help.
This is perfectly normal behaviour for rabbits, it’s just not very convenient for us humans and becomes dangerous if they nibble through electrical cables (phone charger leads are particular favourites). There are a few things you can do. First, redirect this natural chewing behaviour towards more appropriate items: hay, clean deciduous tree branches, woven willow balls, etc. Second: make sure she has the companionship of another rabbit or two. Rabbits are a social species and must, for good welfare, live in pairs or small groups. Last, baby gates and puppy crates make good barricades against precious items or areas.
Breathe easy. In addition to sweating through their paw pads, dogs pant to cool themselves off. A panting dog can take 300-400 breaths (compared to his regular 30-40) with very little effort.
It’s possible the new pairing might get on better if you introduce them on neutral territory as the new Elsa is an intruder into Ana’s home. So, let them live together, somewhere new, for a couple of weeks before moving them back to their home.
Help! My daughter got a mouse for Christmas. A few days ago, I let it escape. How can I tempt it back?
This is a very common scenario. Try to ensure there is no food left accessible to them, including cupboards and work surfaces. Then put out a temptingly baited humane trap, or even a ramp leading up to a suitable glass or plastic smooth-sided container with something soft in the bottom and food in it to keep them fed overnight. It might take several days or even weeks, but as long as there are no predators such as cats in the house, you should catch him or her safely soon.
Dr Richard Saunders, scholar in zoo and rabbit medicine at Bristol Zoo and vet specialist adviser to the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund
Train your dog for a lifetime of obedience. Behavior problems are the number one reason dogs are relinquished to animal shelters, the number one reason they don’t find new forever homes, and as a result, the number one reason dogs are euthanized.
My son wants a lizard but the idea of feeding it baby mice makes me retch (I’m vegan). Are there any reptiles that can have a plant-based diet?
Different species of reptiles need different diets and it is crucial they receive the correct nutrition in order to thrive, whether this comes from a meat-based, plant-based or even insect-based diet.
Some reptiles, like many tortoises, are herbivores and require a plant-based diet to thrive; while others, such as bearded dragons, can have a largely plant-based diet in captivity but may need to supplement this with insects.
It is important to ensure reptiles get adequate protein in their diets and ways of doing this will differ depending on the species.
Not all species will be suitable pets for children as they have complex needs that must be fulfilled to make sure they are happy and healthy. It’s vital to think twice and talk to an exotics vet to ensure you can meet all of the health and welfare needs of a reptile before getting one as a pet.Dr Justine Shotton, president of the British Veterinary Association
Use Rubber Gloves to Pick up Stray Dog Hair. Does your dogs hair get everywhere, or is it just me? My favorite method for picking up all that loose hair is using a pair of rubber gloves. You put them on and run you hands over your furniture; it’s amazing how well pet hair clings to rubber gloves.