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How to stop your pet from destroying your home

| Insurance

People in the UK love their pets. Did you know that around 50 per cent of UK adults own a pet and that there are a total of over 20 million domesticated cats and dogs in this country?

In some cases, you may be able to claim on your home insurance for this kind of damage, though it will depend on your provider and whether they cover these kinds of situations. But sometimes, getting the damage fixed just isn’t enough. Instead, you should try to control the behaviour altogether so your pet doesn’t destroy anything else in the future.

Below, you can find some of the most common causes of pet damage in the home and how to stop this misbehaviour.

Dogs

Dogs exhibit certain behaviours when they’re trying to tell us something. Generally, these behaviours include chewing and scratching to alert us to an issue.

How to stop a dog from chewing furniture

Chewing is quite common in dogs and it can be a sign of boredom. It’s also typical for dogs to chew on things when they’re exploring a new object, anxious or even just playing. However, when they start chewing on the edge of your coffee table or the corner of a sofa, it can be frustrating.

If your dog is chewing because they’re bored, you should ensure that they have a supply of toys available to them at all times. Try to buy new ones regularly as this will help to keep boredom at bay. Doing this should naturally encourage them to chew their toys and not your sofa. It is also important that they are walked regularly as this will help to keep them entertained and alert, but should also tire them out.

When you see them chewing a toy, you should reward them with praise and a treat to demonstrate that this is good behaviour and something they should be doing. Eventually, they will learn the boundaries of what they can and can’t chew from this positive reinforcement.

Why does my dog scratch the carpet?

Scratching or ‘digging in’ the carpet can be a sign of anxiety, happiness or restlessness. In some cases, they might be able to smell something or they may be trying to fluff up the space before lying down.

Most commonly, this behaviour shows that they have too much energy. If your dog is frequently scratching at the carpet, they may need longer walks or more playtime with you. It isn’t enough to give a dog a toy and expect them to play with it - they need human interaction too.

Scratching can also be a sign of anxiety. You should monitor when they do it to see if you can connect the behaviour with another action. For instance, they might scratch when the doorbell goes or when they see a cat outside. Trying to determine the cause will allow you to understand why they do it, and therefore how to prevent this behaviour.


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Cats

Cats tend to be more renowned for behaviour that can damage your furniture, such as scratching and spraying. However, this behaviour can be controlled with a bit of patience.

How to stop cats from scratching the furniture

Cats have a natural tendency to scratch as it helps to maintain healthy claws and so it isn’t something that you want to stop altogether. Instead, you need to show them what they can scratch and what they can’t. You should have a couple of scratch posts at home, maybe one upstairs and one downstairs, that they can use to sharpen their claws.

If you’re teaching them to use the scratching posts and not the furniture, you can discourage scratching on certain objects by using double sided sticky tape or tin foil. Cats don’t usually like the texture of either of these things and should quickly learn what they aren’t allowed to scratch. When they do use their scratch posts, reward them with a couple of treats.

If they tend to go for one particular spot, such as the corner of the sofa, place the post in front of it so they’re more likely to use that. Over time, you can gradually move the post away.

How to stop a cat from spraying

Spraying is a behavioural technique that cats use to mark their territory. You may find that your cat always urinates on some surfaces too, such as beds, sofas and carpets. Spraying is slightly different to urinating but both are done for the same reason. If you have multiple cats, you’ll need to try and work out which one is spraying and why. It’s also really important to completely get rid of the scent, otherwise they’ll continue to spray or urinate in that place.

You may be able to prevent this behaviour by adding extra litter trays around your home (at least one per cat, plus one more) and avoid using scented litter as your cat may not like this.

You should also make areas where they usually spray inaccessible if possible, and try to completely remove the scent to prevent repeat marking 

To erase the smell, you should use special cleaners that contain enzymes. These cleaners will help to break down the bacteria in cat wee that makes it smell so strong to prevent re-marking. Avoid any products that contain ammonia. This is because cat wee contains ammonia and they’ll mistake this smell for their own scent and will re-mark.

An anxious cat may spray more often than a cat that isn’t as stressed, therefore it may be a good idea to invest in a calming plugin that releases pheromones to keep stress at bay. Neutered cats are also less likely to spray.

Does house insurance cover pet damage?

If your pets have done some damage to a piece of furniture or another part of your home, you should check your policy documents to see if this type of incident is covered by your home insurance before making a claim.

For instance, Age Co’s insurance will cover the cost of alternative accommodation for you, other household members and domestic pets until you can move back into your home, however, chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling by pets is not covered.

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