To build better behavior: mousetraps

PETS AT HOME

October 12, 1991|By Gina Spadafori | Gina Spadafori,McClatchy News Service

Want to keep your dog from napping in the armchair? Your cat from playing with the toilet paper? Try setting up a little booby trap with a mousetrap.

Here's how it works: When a mousetrap is triggered by motion, it goes off with a snap and leaps into the air. The noise and the motion are startling and unpleasant to a pet, who will associate the unpleasantness with the site and avoid similar situations in the future.

And no, a little mousetrap will not harm your pet. In this capacity, it serves as noisemaker, nothing more.

Let's take our chair-loving dog. He's not supposed to be up there, but when you're in bed, he knows he's safe. When you wander into the living room late at night, the dog is on the floor feigning innocence, but the chair is warm. It's a perfect situation for mousetraps. Arm two or three mousetraps and place them on top of the cushions. You probably won't be asleep when the first mine explodes. Leave him be -- no gloating -- and let the mousetraps do the job.

Repeat the procedure every night until your dog is convinced.

Likewise, a mousetrap on top of the toilet paper roll will convince your cat to let it be.

There are many other situations in which mousetraps can help. I've used them to keep Andy the brat out of the dirty-clothes hamper. He's pretty persistent, however, so I seem to repeat the whole procedure every year and a half or so. It refreshes his memory, and keeps the dirty socks safe.

*

With cold weather not too far away, it's time for some reminders.

First, what should animal-lovers do before they get into the car on a cold day? Thump the hood to make sure no cold kitty is snuggled up next to that warm engine.

By the same token, check your clothes-dryer between loads to make sure your cat isn't curled up inside. It could save a life.

Finally, if part of your fall chores include changing the antifreeze in your car, take care. Coolant is a killer, so deadly that a lethal dose can be picked up by the cat that walks through a puddle of the stuff then stops to clean its paws.

Ms. Spadafori is a newspaper reporter and an animal obedience trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o Saturday, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278

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