Ditch the faux paws: pet proofing ideas

Our pets hold an immense amount of power over us, with their soft teddy bear fur and floppy ears. There’s actually a scientific term for how we find our pets irresistibly adorable. It’s called the cute stimulus, and it means we’re naturally conditioned to find babies of all species cute, and pets are our little fur babies forever. The reason we respond to the cute stimulus is evolutionary, because when we find something cute, the more prone we are to care for it and give it attention. That’s why when you arrive home to find your living room redecorated with a fresh blanket of couch stuffing, it’s still very hard to scold those sad puppy dog eyes staring right back at you. 

Since we know you’re going to love your pets no matter what, we invented Pet Parent® coverage. It’s a monthly renters insurance add-on to help you protect yourself and your apartment from those not-so-cute moments that come with pet parenthood. So, just because you’re under the grip of a cutie doesn’t mean you can’t keep your place cute too. Let’s get your apartment sleek and stylish with some of these design-forward pet proofing tips to ensure elegant safety. 

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Make your place exclusive. 

That’s right, your place is the hottest new pet club in town, and it’s exclusive. There’s only room for your pets, and maybe a few other pet pals you agree to put on the list for a playdate. Within the confines of your swanky new pet club, your pet shouldn’t and doesn’t have to have access to every room in the house. 

Just like children aren’t allowed in the club, a baby proof gate (usually) works the same way for your pet. Remember, these gates don’t have to be solely utilitarian. There are types of materials and designs to keep your pet safe without ruining your open concept: mid-century modern wood, lofty industrial steel, glam gold, boho-chic teak and tropical rattan are some gate material options. If you find that your dog still chewed an escape hole through the wall, that’s where pet liability renters insurance can help you. When you’re ready to switch to just spying on them with the nanny cam when you’re leaving (actually a very suggested way to keep an eye on them), start small and go bigger once you both feel comfortable like starting in the laundry room and then extending the gate further into an area such as the kitchen, and so on.

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Find a chic crate concept.  

You can upgrade any and every room with a flattering crate, so let’s talk more about crate designs and styles. Crates are a fab way, and somewhat essential at times, to keep your pet safe while you’re away or not fully watching them. Many pets even end up finding a sweet solace in their crates (living in small dens is in their DNA). The Danes would describe this with the word “hygge”: a quality of secure coziness that causes a feeling of contentment and well-being. It’s kind of like that feeling you get when you know all your things in your apartment are safe and you have monthly renters insurance for those things. While your pet may whine a bit at first, we think they will get acclimated faster than carpet in bathrooms went out of style. 

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What we suggest is finding a crate that matches your decor style, because getting an all-black metal wire crate is just no fun. You won’t spend much time looking either. There are probably as many stylish dog crate options out there as the treats you will use to get your pup in it at first. If your place is minimalist sized for your maximalist taste, think about getting a crate that doubles as furniture for yourself crates that are also side tables, and sleek double crates that work as a credenza or a TV stand. Sniff out some crate deals on Toggle Perks

Prevent the chopping block from becoming their chomping block.  

Pet proofing your kitchen is smart. They say kitchens are the heart of the home. Your pet agrees. The savory scent of a simmering meaty spaghetti sauce wafting through the air is amore for them too. Which means you’ll want to treat your kitchen like a head chef on opening night. Organized and safe, with everything dangerous tucked away on a high shelf to avoid counter surfing, because not all human food is safe for pets. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your dog who may be eyeing that steaming pot roast you have resting on the counter. And if they get into something, like the forbidden chocolates, that is very harmful to them, you’ll want to contact an emergency vet immediately. Since we’ve all recently realized that we can dodge the fluorescent light filled waiting rooms with virtual doctors appointments instead, the same should go for your pet. On-demand services like Petzey can connect pet parents with the right vet professional anytime, anywhere. 

If your cat, and possibly your very impressive dog, learns how to open the cabinets and doors, childproof locks are key. Your pet basically is your child. So keep anything you wouldn’t want a child getting access to locked in these places. If you have room up high, you can store the dangerous stuff up there too: cleaning supplies and chemicals, detergents, your stash of chocolate, etc. You don’t need your animal on any dangerous chemicals in this club. If your pet is the type that likes to party in the trash, make sure to always have it securely covered, or keep it stored away or locked up if that doesn’t stop them. Things dangerous for your precious, precious pet can end up in the depths of the deep dark trash. 

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Livin’ it up in the living room with non-menacing houseplants. 

We must emphasize non-menacing here. Plants are kind of like pets, but they can also be bad for your pets. Obviously you wouldn’t want to place a Venus flytrap next to your pet fly herd, but it turns out that even some pretty harmless-looking houseplants can actually be pretty harmful for your more ordinary pet types: dogs, cats, parakeets, etc. 

Fortunately, there are many lively houseplant options that will keep everyone lively. Many plant delivery sites have entire sections dedicated to houseplants that are friendly to cats and dogs: peperomias, spider plants, lipstick plants, African violets, the list goes on. Anytime before buying a new plant friend, you’ll want to check if it is pet friendly. Here is a list of some of the toxic plants you will want to watch out for. If you find yourself at a local nursery, just give them an ask. Their horticulture specialists should know for you.

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Separate the cords from the chew toys. 

You see an electric cord. Your cat sees a mouse tail. While cords all over the place might seem like a personal jungle gym for your kitty, they can be quite dangerous. They are also dangerous for puppies with sharp teeth, so you’ll want to get serious about puppy proofing your home. When your pup gets older, they may need less supervision. But regardless, it helps the aesthetic of your place if you take a little time to conceal those cords. So make sure any cords that you wouldn’t want them chewing on are placed up high. This is also good for almost all of your electronic choking hazards, like remotes, speakers and turntables. For cords that are stuck down low, taping over them with color-matching wall tape is a noninvasive way to make them blend right in. Pet-friendly chew deterrent sprays are also a must-have when dealing with a chewer. 

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Finally, remind your pet that you love them, and spoil them with a bunch of chew toys and ropes with fake mouses on the end. Invest in a few cute wicker baskets, or other materials of your liking, and use them as a toy hamper. Maybe you can even train your pet to pick up after themselves for extra cuteness.

Go avant garde with your cat furniture. 

Bringing home your date to a mile-high cat condo with your three cats on it death staring them isn’t necessarily the definition of sexy. But with the sleek modern cat furniture available these days, sexy is whatever you want. Why can’t your cat (or cats) have an intricate cat tower that could be a sculpture in the MoMA? You’re a member of the adulting elite now. Reach as high as your cat can climb. Investing in a cat “tree” or tower will give them something to play ninja on other than your furniture. Mister Majestic perched on a woven basket set atop reclaimed driftwood columns is simply art. A fluffy macramé cat bed hung from the ceiling is also a beautiful addition (check if your landlord doesn’t mind holes). 

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For further preemptive furniture rescue, we suggest you invest in an artful scratching post to save that delicate green velvet couch of yours. You want to be sitting on a cloud. Not cleaning a pile of fluff up. Your landlord will also appreciate the scratch-free walls when you depart. A cactus or mushroom sprout scratching post is a great conversation starter. 

Unless you have one of those cats that has learned how to use the toilet, their next step to world domination, you’ll want to consider giving them some privacy with modern litter boxes. Visit Toggle Perks for deals on these. Self-cleaning robot litter boxes are also super great for letting your cat think their mind control is finally working. Where you place the litter box also matters. Think about areas that aren’t so much in the center focus: bathrooms, empty coat closets or laundry rooms. 

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Protect your moderns from becoming antiques.  

While antiques are appreciated for their charming wear and tear, other design styles do not mix with scratches and teeth marks. Have you ever seen the leather on an original Eames chair scratched to pieces? It’s utterly devastating. To avoid further mid-century modern tragedies, let’s talk about how to cat proof your furniture. 

If you find that your cat still loves digging their claws into your new loveseat, even after you closed the deal on their luxury cat condo, there are some techniques you can use to help train them not to scratch your favorite pieces, like placing aluminum foil on no-scratch zones, spraying citrus scents on furniture to further deter them, classically (and gently) spraying them with water when they’re acting up and adding anti-scratch tape to specific areas you find them getting their scratch on. 

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Like cat scratch fever, puppies, and occasionally older pups, will catch the chews. Let’s talk about how to dog proof your furniture. First, it’s important to put them in chew school when they are young. Whenever you catch them chewing on something they shouldn’t, replace it with a designated chew toy. They catch on quickly. You don’t always get your pup when they’re a puppy, though, and that’s fine. We love adoption! If you have a more stubborn chewer on your hands, here’s some tips to help stop Chewbacca: taste deterrents, edge guards to stop them from chewing wall corners and nanny cams to broadcast your voice through and tell them “No!”

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Petscape the yard. 

For your backyard oasis, here’s how to dog proof your backyard without constructing an entire white picket fence. First, right when you move in, inspect the entire yard for dangerous objects. Rusty garden shears may look fun to your dog, but they’re not. With no fence, tie-outs, tethers and trolleys will give your dog some freedom without ever stepping paw into the neighbor’s yard. Small dogs also like portable exercise pens. For prize-winning gardens, make sure you’re planting non-toxic plants. Plants toxic to pets include tulips, hyacinth, azaleas, daffodils, sago palm, English ivy and autumn crocus, to name a few. For feline friends that love to explore the outdoors, lilies are toxic as well. If you find your pet snacking still, try some deterrent sprays (diluted lemon juice, vinegar or both mixed together often work). Finally, consider plant removal if these don’t work. 

Is your dog turning your backyard into an archeological dig site? To remedy this, try giving your little archeologist a dedicated digging zone, covered with loose soil or sand. Make the digging zone more attractive by burying some safe “artifacts” (such as bones or toys) for them to discover. Much like chewing deterrents, digging deterrents will discourage your dog from digging. Consider spraying vinegar or spreading orange peels around their dig sites. Most pets don’t like the smell and will stay away. If you find that your dog’s pee breaks are leaving burn marks in your grass,”potty rocks” can work wonders. They’re essentially 100% natural urine-neutralizing rocks that you put in their water bowl. 

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Guard the garage. 

You’re doing the dishes, and all of a sudden you look up to see Baxter taking a joyride on your riding lawn mower. While you may be tempted to let them finish the grass, we would discourage it. Since you keep all of the things you don’t want in your home, like paint, lawn equipment and heavy tools in your garage, it can be a dangerous place for your pup. If you plan to allow your dog in the garage, you’ll want to check these things off your list first: ensure your garage is properly ventilated, properly store sharp objects such as nails and blades, remove mouse and insect traps, store dangerous chemicals up high and frequently sweep to remove debris. When you’re ready to take your car out for a joyride, Toggle® Auto provides flexible and customizable auto insurance. And when you need your furry copilot with you, Toggle on Pet Passenger™ coverage, because if you happen to be in an accident, you’ll want them to have coverage too. 

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No chase around the chaise. 

This is about setting boundaries. Especially when renting, we are super aware of how we treat the space. Your pet should also be aware. Before your little one arrives you’ll want to determine your boundaries and stick to them. A puppy is not someone you can allow to sleep in bed with you one day and then tell them off limits the next day. That’s essentially gaslighting your puppy. So before the big day, you’ll want to decide if you’ll allow your pet on the furniture, if they’ll be sleeping in their bed or yours, and if the living room is going to be a free-for-all fetch area, where a lamp or two may be lost.

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Pet Parent, to keep all your fine things fine. 

How does it feel to be an expert on pet design theories now? We hope you’re excited to try some of it out, because being a pet parent is a wonderful journey. Sure, there can be headaches that come with pet parenthood. When they do, Pet Parent coverage from Toggle can help you clean up the mess. Coverage includes up to an additional $100,000 for injury caused by your pets to another person (other than you or another insured), no matter where in the world it happens. It can also cover up to $500 in pet boarding costs if a covered loss or damage makes your residence temporarily unfit to live in. We’ll provide coverage for up to $500 for damage to your residence caused by your pet over and above your security deposit; and up to $500 for the veterinary care if your pet is injured as a result of a covered loss to property (in select states). If you are having some insurance questions right now, we might have some answers: check it out. 

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