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Open House Recap: Pets and Your Home

Those of us who live with pets struggle to varying degrees with how to keep our homes clean, organized, and pretty, even with a 60-pound dog underfoot or a kitty who likes to use your favorite chaise lounge as a scratching post. So for last weekend's Open House, I asked readers to share your secrets for living happily, healthfully, and beautifully with pets in your home.

Not only did you guys give me some great ideas, but you're also inspiring me to rethink my current practice of not crating my dog. Check out some of my favorite words of advice below.

  • Pez4Pres: I used to use flushable litter until I found out that cat litter has a parasite that survives sewage treatment and ends up in the ocean where it can kill sea otters I like otters more than flushable litter so now I clean it out every night and use the littermate. It's basically a diaper genie for cats. It works pretty well, and helps keep odors down.
  • SDJackson: If you buy a kennel, make sure it's big enough for them to turn around in it, stand in it, and lay down in it. And I refused to put it outside...that seemed a little extreme for our tiny dog. Of course, that meant I had an ugly black cage in the corner of my living room, but I whipped up a couple of rectangles using a really nice upholstery fabric and attached them to each side of the kennel with ribbon. Then I added some pockets for dog toys. It was a super easy way to fuse my love for my dog with my love for clean carpet.
  • MellyBChappyChap: To keep my cat Napoleon content and entertained I put his scratching tower post by the big picture window. He sits on the top perch and watches the people in my apartment go by. Now, I hear people call up and say, "Hi Napoleon!" and most times he'll meow back. Because of his supreme cuteness, I've already had someone in the complex say anytime my boyfriend and I go out of town, he'd love to cat-sit. I almost didn't put his post there because it's not the best living room design, but seeing how happy it makes Napoleon and my neighbors, I wouldn't put it anywhere else.
  • Daisie: Kitty isn't allowed on the kitchen counters. It helps that they are too high for her to jump on, but if she ever jumps where she shouldn't, it's best to catch her in the act and say "NO" a few times while removing her. Clapping your hands and saying "no" loudly works now—she knows if that happens it is a no-no and to stop.

For lots of other ideas,

  • Stefsprl: We had lots of problems with our cats getting up on our kitchen counters as soon as they got big enough to jump up there. We put double-sided Scotch tape in rows (with about two inches in between strips) across the counter, and it worked like a charm. It became an unpleasant experience for them, so they stopped doing it (cats associate discipline with the person, not the actual act itself—essentially, they just learn to not do whatever they're doing when you're around rather than learning it's wrong).
  • Sweetpeabrina: To keep [my cat] Gadget from snacking on plants, when I first bring plants in, I spritz them with a mixture of vinegar and crushed red peppers.
  • Chancleta: My advice for renters with dogs: If you're a big dog owner like me, you know that landlords flinch when you mention your baby weighs more than 25 pounds. Some landlords find it hard to believe that bigger doesn't mean worse. So a couple of years ago I started getting a letter of recommendation for my baby. Yes, sounds crazy, but it works! When you move out and the landlord sees how your precious baby didn't do any damage, ask for a letter of recommendation for your pooch. Just a letter saying he didn't do any damages. That way you can show the next landlord a letter from the previous landlord as proof that your baby isn't "that kind of dog."
  • Verily: My cats don't hang out on my counters (thank god!), but one of them discovered that my Bunn coffee maker is very nice and warm at all times. To deal with that, I put two pieces of duct tape on the top of it. Cats totally hate the feel of it and it's way more durable than Scotch tape.
  • Arienne: To deal with dog hair, sticky lint rollers are are a lifesaver. My Dyson vacuum is a must-have for me too.
  • Brendelwoman: I agree that kenneling a dog is a good thing. They really do look at it as their safe place. We got a puppy eight days ago and he is already adapted to going to the crate when I cannot keep a watchful eye on him. It also helps to have an older dog to model good behavior.
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