Humorist Franklin P. Jones famously said, “Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job.” Of course, if it is your dog doing the scratching, you may have a different job—namely, protecting your furniture. While the domestication of cats and dogs has gone on for thousands of years, certain wild instincts remain. And when these instincts manifest as furniture scratching, it tests the patience of even the most loyal and loving of pet owners.
But fear not: it is possible to put a stop to these destructive pet behaviors! Read on to learn why pets scratch up furniture and, most importantly, how you can prevent it from happening in your home.
Scratching and Digging: Why Does it Happen?
Cats will be cats. Scratching keeps their claws in shape, and digging in before a good stretch is clearly irresistible. Pheromones in the paws mark their territory. Since scratching is so natural, resist the temptation to punish your cat for it, as your pet won’t necessarily connect the act with your harsh words. You might only succeed at inducing anxiety.
It is similar with dogs. Certain breeds are hardwired to dig a hole to sleep in. Parallels with wolves are not coincidental. The Latin name for dogs is Canis Lupus Familiaris, or “family of the wolf.” The Alaskan Malamute and the Husky dig holes in the snow for insulation. Others were bred to dig holes to catch rodents. Cairn Terriers, Jack Russells, and Miniature Schnauzers are all examples. Hunting breeds are also predisposed to digging.
Dogs dig at upholstered furniture for other reasons. Sometimes, it is evidence of nesting or maternal behavior. Or, there may be a desire to bury treasure, like a bone or toy. Your pet might be searching for treats. It could even be that your dog is simply bored. If that’s the case, regular trips to the park or beach might be the perfect antidote.
Finally, scratching or digging may be evidence of anxiety or compulsive behavior. If you suspect this, discuss it with your veterinarian.
5 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Pet From Scratching the Furniture
Is scratching a challenge in your household? Before you go to an animal behaviorist, try these five ideas.
1. Scratching Posts
A tried and true solution to the problem is an awesome scratching post. Cats often prefer a vertical post that is perfect for stretching. Look for a post with a heavy, stable base. The ASPCA suggests that you consider multiple posts, “Try giving your cat posts made of cardboard, carpeting, wood, sisal, and upholstery.” Resist the temptation to tuck the scratching post away in an obscure corner. Rather, place it near the furniture your cat is going after so she’ll see it as a more interesting substitute. Hang toys on them, or add a little catnip to seal the deal. Select a post with vertical grain for raking and one with horizontal grain for picking.
2. Covers for Your Furniture
There are a few things you can put on your furniture to deter scratching. Slipcovers protect your furniture investment while delivering real peace of mind. Alternatively, try adding a throw blanket to protect a scratch-prone area. Sticky tape on the corners of armrests also discourages feline scratching. You can go a step further to protect a favorite chair or sofa by wrapping sisal around its lower parts. The idea is that the cat will be so captivated by clawing the sisel that it will end there.
3. Specialized Furniture
Some pet owners find that scratch-resistant furniture is worth considering. Look for recycled leather that is supple yet tough. Or, consider budget-friendly microfiber as the tightly woven fabric discourages digging and scratching. The downside is that microfiber can be a hair magnet, so color-matching your purchase and your pet is not a bad idea!
Another option is to find an anti-chew spray that makes your dog think twice about nibbling on the sofa. A well-formulated spray will be harmless to the upholstery and perfectly safe for your dog. For cats, try spraying furniture with a citrus scent spray as they tend to dislike the fragrance.
5. Claw Caps
Cat claw caps are little vinyl covers that you place over a cat’s natural nails. While they’re a bit tricky to apply, they do last about for about four to seek weeks. Some veterinary practices will even put them on for you.
Pet-Friendly Luxury Apartments
It’s good to know that modern luxury apartment communities are catering to the needs of pets and their owners.
Just north of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is 1350-60 North Lake Shore Drive, a community where residents enjoy the convenience of a pet spa and a ground-level dog park on the north side of the 1360 tower. You’ll also find a well-appointed outdoor dog park at Grand Plaza. It is a luxury apartment community in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. In Printer’s Row, residents at Burnham Pointe take their pets to a spacious indoor dog park.
In Irving, TX, Crest at Las Colinas Station offers a spacious, grass-covered dog park. In McKinney, TX, Bell Tower Flats at Adriatica Village maintains a pet-washing facility for its residents. The new Moda at The Hill in St. Louis, MO, also offers pet care facilities, including multiple stainless steel pet washing tubs.
About Draper and Kramer
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