Buy a little mousetrap and get your pet off the sofa


January 08, 1994|By Gina Spadafori | Gina Spadafori,McClatchy News Service

Does your dog slip onto the sofa when you're not watching?

Does your cat think nothing's more amusing than pulling the toilet paper off the roll and dragging it through the house?

The cure may be a mousetrap.

You read that right -- a mousetrap. Those little spring-loaded monsters can actually work wonders on curing some pet problems -- without hurting your pet. The small unbaited kind are the ones to use, and they cost about 50 cents.

Here's how they work: When a mousetrap is triggered by motion, it goes off with a loud snap and a leap into the air. The noise and the motion are startling and unpleasant to a pet, who will associate the unpleasantness with the situation and avoid similar setups 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 couch-crawling dog. The big sneak knows he's not supposed to be up there, and he gets it every time he's caught. When you're in bed, though, he knows he's safe. When you wander into the living room late at night, the dog looks innocent, but the couch is warm.

To stop it, put three or four loaded mousetraps on the couch and bid him the sweetest of goodnights.

You probably won't be asleep when the first mine explodes. Leave him be -- no gloating -- and wait for the next one. After a few go-rounds, your dog will leave the couch alone. The reason: He's convinced that the couch itself set off the traps.

Let's look at it from a pet's point of view -- as much as any human can, anyway. His keen sense of smell tells him there's something new on the couch. It smells like . . . (sniff, sniff) . . . wood and . . .(sniff) . . . metal. Hmmmm . . . just wood and metal. Nothing to fear there. Both front paws are on the couch when the motion triggers the trap -- SNAP! "Zoweeee!" howls the dog as he runs for the kitchen. "What on earth was that!?"

After a few minutes he wanders cautiously back, sniffing carefullyand trying to figure it out. Wood and metal, mostly, he confirms, but was I dreaming that noise? He tries again, getting all the way up this time before the second trap goes off, right under his blundering paw. Now he's well on his way to being convinced: The couch is no place for a dog and even the couch knows it!

Likewise, a mousetrap on top of the toilet paper roll will convince your pet there are better things to play with.

In my house, the family-room couch is dog-friendly, so I've no need for mousetraps there. But I have used them on Andy the sock stealer with great success.

Since he was a little puppy, Andy has had this thing for socks -- dirty, preferably. When he gets them, he shreds them, and at the price of clothes today, this habit was one I could not tolerate.

I tried the obvious cure -- I kept my socks picked up. But Andy would still find them often enough to leave me with a drawer full of unmated socks. The day he gnawed through the hamper -- the Great Sock Massacre -- was when I finally decided enough was enough.

I pulled the most tempting pieces out of the new hamper, and with Andy out of sight, set my traps. I hid loaded mousetraps in the clothing, laid the lures on the carpet, then slipped out as Andy wandered in. He grabbed the first piece and dropped it just as fast as the sock jumped with a life of its own. His look of horror slowly became one of confusion, then determination as he grabbed another -- and got it again. He's not stupid, just stubborn, but now he's convinced.

My socks need only fear the washing machine now.

Ms. Spadafori is a licensed pet trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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