17 Fuss-Free Pet Care Tips

Try these helpful tips to achieve a happy homelife for you and your pets

Dog being cleaned with a vacuum cleaner

Take the time out of pampering your pet by following these simple tips

Whether you're having problems with cats making their way onto your dinner table, dogs digging up your lawn or birds escaping their cages, you'll need help keeping your pets under control. 

Here's a list of handy tips for looking after your animals so you can avoid all those pet-related worries.

Hydro therapy 

Tired of the cat jumping onto the table during meals? Fill a spray bottle with water and whenever the cat hops up, give him a squirt. Eventually the mere sight of the bottle will send the cat running.

Keep the cat off the table with a handy water spray

Keep the cat off the table with a handy water spray
 

Saved by the bell 

Here’s an easy way your dog can let you know he needs to follow the call of nature. Hang some bells from the doorknob and your dog will quickly learn to associate the sound with the door opening. Soon he’ll be nudging the bells himself to tell you it’s time to go. Saying, ‘Outside? Want to go outside?’, and jiggling the bells for a few days every time your dog goes out can speed things along.

For a rainy day 

Use a plastic storage bin to make a doghouse that will withstand a rainy day. Cut a hole in the bin that’s big enough for your dog to pass through. Flip the bin over on its lid, stick a dog bed inside it and you’re done. Cats will also appreciate this type of semi-enclosed housing.

Invisible barrier 

Use a sheet of plastic to protect doors from your dog’s claws. Head to the local hardware store and buy a piece no more than 3mm thick. Cut the plastic so that it fits between the doorjambs and is 300mm higher than the reach of your dog. Mount the plastic to the door using 20mm x 8g panhead screws.

Cover the door in a sheet of plastic to stop it from being scratched

Cover the door in a sheet of plastic to stop it from being scratched
 

Hair no more 

If your dog has a heavy coat, skip the brush and instead use the vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment. It’ll clean the dog and suck up all the loose hair, too. Your dog will be a little apprehensive at first but he may learn to love it.

No littering

Clean up kitty litter in half the time with this nifty trick. Line the tray with a kitchen garbage bag before adding the litter. When it’s time to change the litter, simply lift out the bag, tie it up and throw the entire contents away. 

Wade right in 

Plastic paint trays from the hardware store are cheap, easy to clean, and make ideal birdbaths. The ribs on the bottom provide traction and the tray’s slope allows birds to choose whether they want to wade in deep or shallow water.

Plastic paint trays from the hardware store make great bird baths.

Plastic paint trays from the hardware store make great bird baths
 

An immovable feast 

Strong winds can send pet bowls flying so make a dish that won’t blow away. Fill a plastic bucket with a few centimetres of sand then fit a second container of the same size inside it. Use the inside bucket as the food dish.

Playing it cool 

Hot days are tough on rabbits so here’s a great way to keep them from overheating. Fill plastic bottles with water, freeze them then place them in the hutch. The bunnies will love to laze against the bottles as the ice thaws. This is also a great way to help cool down dogs and cats.

Get on the level 

Keep your birdbath steady and its water an even depth by levelling a paver stone underneath it. Dig a hole about 50mm deeper than the paver thickness. Pour and spread a 50mm layer of paving sand in the hole.
Set the paver on the sand and check it with a short carpenter’s level. Lift one edge of the paver and add or remove sand to level it as required.

You can level out your backyard bird bath by laying a paver at the base.

You can level out your backyard birdbath by laying a paver at the base
 

Ants away

Ants love to invade kitchens and laundries, and one of their favourite destinations is the pet food bowl. Keep them at bay by setting the bowl in a pan of water. It’ll deter the ants and doubles as a water dish.

Going to seed 

Birdseed that drops to the ground can grow into an unwanted jumble of plants. Keep seed from sprouting by positioning a piece of scrap carpet underneath bird feeders. To get rid of the hulls, sweep the carpet or shake it into a bin. Be warned that the carpet scrap will kill the grass underneath.

Free as a bird 

A pet bird that makes a bid for freedom can be difficult to recapture. Try closing the curtains and turning off all the lights. Birds don’t usually fly in the dark so it’ll land and be easy to spot with a torch.

Pet birds can try to escape their cage, but they are easier to catch in the dark

To catch an escaped pet bird, turn off the lights and wait for it to land
 

A spot of bother

Growing a neat lawn in an area frequented by dogs is difficult but not impossible. Acidic dog urine discolours and kills grass, leaving a patchwork of brown spots. Here are a few ways to keep grass green.

  • Apply lime regularly to neutralise the acid in the soil and restore the balance grass prefers.
  • Add tomato juice by the tablespoonful to your dog’s food each day to help neutralise urine. 
  • Water the lawn thoroughly each week to dilute urine. 
  • Replace grass with round pebbles bordered by brick or concrete edging.

Keep off the grass

Fed up with the dog digging up the same spot in your garden over and over again? Keep the dog away by crumbling a cake of toilet freshener over the area. The smell really puts them off.

Do the local moggies just love to dig up young plants in your garden? Cats are repelled by the smell of citrus, so poke pieces of orange, grapefruit and lemon rind into the soil of flower and vegie beds, then dust lightly with soil. Store peel in the freezer until it’s needed.

There are a number of ways you can prevent your dog from making a mess of your lawn.

There are a number of ways you can prevent your dog from making a mess of your lawn
 

No-bark zone

Does your dog’s barking in the car drive you mad? Try this trick. Every time your dog barks, close the window (but watch his head). He’ll quickly learn that barking means no fresh air and no slobbery tongue flapping in the breeze. After a few car rides you’ll both be driving around in blissful silence.

Water on the go

Next time you walk the dog, take a plastic shower cap with you. When the pooch gets thirsty, fill the cap from your water bottle and hold it out for them to have a drink.

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