According to animal behaviorists and vets, certain features or items in a home can make dogs and cats mighty uncomfortable. So if you want to create an environment that keeps your four-legged family members happy, check out this list of home amenities that pets often hate—as well as solutions that you can both live with.
1. Dogs hate hardwood floors
Your gleaming hardwood floors may bring warmth and charm to your home, but dogs find them difficult to walk on. The reason: Slick hardwoods have lousy traction, says Jenna Stregowski, a registered veterinary technician.
“When dogs feel like they have less control, they take their toenails and claw into the surface,” says Stregowski. Hardwood floors can be particularly tough for older dogs or dogs with arthritis.
Solution: Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist and owner of All Creatures Behavior Counseling in Kirkland, WA, recommends placing nonskid area rugs on the ground to make the floors easier for pups to walk on.
Don’t want to cover your beautiful hardwoods? Stregowski suggests buying ToeGrips, nonslip rubber rings that slide onto your dog’s toenails to improve traction.
2. Dogs hate your fireplace
“A lot of dogs don’t like the crackling or popping sound of logs in the fireplace,” says Sung. Meanwhile, if you have a gas fireplace, the ticking sound when you turn it on can also scare your pooch.
Solution: Before using the fireplace, give your dog a bone to distract it.
Bonus: “He’ll begin to associate the fireplace with a treat,” says Sung. “It’s positive conditioning.”
3. Dogs hate scented cleaning products
Strong odors can irritate your dog’s nasal passages. “Even a mild-scented cleaner can be a problem, since [odors] smell stronger to dogs than they do to us,” Stregowski says.
Solution: Use odorless cleaners instead of harsh-smelling ones such as vinegar or bleach.
4. Dogs hate chain-link fences
Enclosing your backyard with a fence gives your dog the ability to roam around without your supervision, but chain-link fences can create anxiety. Why? Because dogs can see through the fence at that squirrel, stray cat, or strange human on the other side, but can’t get past the fence to do anything about it. Bummer. Ever stared at desserts through a window? Same idea—it drives ’em crazy.
Solution: If you’re building a fence, opt for solid panels to block your dog’s line of sight, says Mikkel Becker, an animal trainer at FearFreePets.com, a website that provides online and in-person education to veterinary professionals. If you already have a chain-link fence installed, you can buy wooden boards or vinyl panels to cover the gaps.
5. Cats hate being confined to low spaces
Cats are descended from wild predators that spend a lot of time in trees while they’re hunting, says Nicholas Dodman, author of “Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry.” Consequently, felines crave access to high spaces, and they hate when they can’t access balconies, lofts, or other perches.
Solution: Give your cat spaces to climb. For example, consider building high shelves that are accessible from other furniture, like a sofa or mattress.
6. Cats hate most scratching posts
Cats scratch in order to mark their territory, which is why pet experts recommend homeowners buy scratching posts. Unfortunately, “a lot of scratching posts are made from materials that cats don’t like,” so they don’t use them, says Becker.
Solution: To protect your furniture, buy scratching posts that are made from sisal, a fabric that mimics the rough surface of a tree trunk that cats love to scratch. Also, “make sure that the post is at least 3 feet high, and that it’s anchored to the ground so it doesn’t rock when your cat scratches it,” says Becker.
7. Cats hate tiny litter boxes
Litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes, but you need a litter box that’s large enough for your cat. Buy one that’s too small, and cats may feel inclined to do their business elsewhere.
Solution: Your litter box should be at least one and a half times the length of your cat, says Becker.
Also, “don’t put the litter box in a location that’s difficult for the cat to reach,” says Becker, who recommends transforming a cabinet into a litter box if you’re looking to conceal it. (Just make sure there’s enough ventilation.)
Pro tip: “You want to have at least two litter boxes, because a lot of cats like to go No. 1 in one box and No. 2 in the other box,” says Becker.
8. Cats and dogs hate dark spaces
Like us, cats and dogs need vitamin D from sunlight exposure to protect against osteoporosis, rotted teeth, respiratory infections, and other health issues—which explains why they hate being trapped in dark spaces.
Solution: This one is pretty straightforward: Don’t relegate your pet to dark spaces, like the basement. Open those blinds and let them lie in the sun!