By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats.
A generation ago, we communicated via fax machines and cell phones the size of bricks. Today, we turn to our mobile devices – tablets, smart phones and iPads – to instantly connect with people all over the world or simply in the next room of our homes.
But if you share your home with a dog or two, you need to protect these pricey devices from being the target of canine destruction. According to a national survey performed by Square Trade, pets have destroyed more than eight million smart phones, iPads, laptops, television remotes and other cherished electronic devices – costing pet parents a whopping $8 billion in replacement costs.
In fact, I recently polled my Facebook followers about these high-tech pet hijinks. A chew-happy service pup in training named Muddy crushed two smart phones in her mouth. A Great Dane named Louie stashed three iPhones in his crate and “killed” them by sitting on them. Others reported numerous charging cables bitten in half by her curious puppies who apparently mistake those dangling cords for small prey tail. Far too many reported that their dogs urinated on these gadgets.
There are two reasons for these unwanted canine behaviors.
1. First, dogs investigate their surroundings by sniffing, pawing, chewing and yes, sometimes, urinating on these gadgets. This “p-mail” is a dog’s way of saying to others, “Hey, this is mine. Back off.”
2. Second, we must factor in our dogs’ unshakeable love and devotion they direct toward us. They see us tote our cell phones, iPads and laptops from room to room. They notice how focused we are when we type messages on Facebook or other social media venues. So, if they can’t be in our laps or next to us, they turn to the objects emitting our scents. Yep, these objects tend to be our electronic gadgets. In our pets’ mind, these items must be checked out. They do so by biting them, tail swatting them off coffee tables, pawing them off countertops and marking them with urine or drool (or ugh, both).
Here are five strategies designed to save you money, keep your dogs safe and protect your pricey electronic devices:
1. Banish boredom in your dogs by providing them with daily mental and physical exercise outlets. Provide them with safe chew toys or battery-operated dog-safe toys that make erratic movements. And, don’t forget to book 5 to 10 minutes a day to engage in interactive games with your dog.
2. Stash power cords inside chew-proof tubing or spray the cords with Bitter Apple, minty breath spray or even spritz with pickle juice. Most pets detest these scents.
3. Get into the habit of always stashing your pricey devices out of paw’s reach – inside drawers, cabinets and never on coffee tables, on your bed, kitchen counters or inside open purses left on the floor. Never charge devices in outlets easy for pets to reach.
4. Invest in an affordable protection plan for your devices. Do some price comparison-shopping of protection plans offered by your smart phone company and other independent companies.
5. Resist texting or talking on your cell phone when you’re taking your dog for a walk or a hike. If your dog spots a squirrel or other temptation, he will yank on the leash and possibly cause you to be off-balance and drop that cell phone out of your hand and right on the hard concrete sidewalk. I keep my cell phone in a rubberized case with a sturdy clip that fastens to my belt when I walk my dogs.