"I've Got a Pet Problem!"

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Who can resist a cute pet? Given America's enormous pet population of 86 million cats and 78 million dogs, the answer seems to be "Not many of us." But when animals and people mix, dicey social situations sometimes result. Here, some common ones — and the expert solutions.

When my 7-year-old's friend comes over, he's too rough with our family cat. Saying "Be gentle!" hasn't helped. What should I do?

It's possible that this kid hasn't had much exposure to animals and doesn't understand what "gentle" means with regard to your cat, so try making it a teachable moment, advises Gail Melson, Ph.D., professor emerita of developmental studies at Purdue University and author of Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children. You can demonstrate, saying, "This is how Fluffy likes to be petted. Now she's purring!" But if the child is still too rough, put Fluffy in another room — no point in traumatizing your pet. Post-playdate, speak to the child's parent — but don't do it at the door. "Pickup time is often a rushed moment, so don't raise the issue then, especially not in front of the kids," says Melson. "Say, 'John's glad Matthew could come over. I want to talk to you about something — can I give you a ring tonight?' " Later, on the phone, stick to what you observed, without passing judgment: "I just wanted to let you know that the last few times Matthew has been over, he's tried to poke our cat with a pencil and pull her tail. I'm worried the cat might scratch or bite him if he keeps it up." Then, trust your instincts about future get-togethers; if the parent promises to intervene and help the child be more gentle, fine; if he is still too rough and you feel as if you're in a scene from Criminal Minds, drop him from the social calendar and help your child develop new relationships. If your son asks why the boy doesn't visit anymore, Melson suggests saying something like, "Matthew can't come to play because he's too rough with Fluffy, and Fluffy needs to be safe."

My dog got the worst haircut at the usual groomer's. I was so shocked, I just paid and left. What else could I have done?

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Whenever there's a problem at the groomer's, don't pay without speaking with the manager. "That's the person who wants you to be happy and return to the salon," says Heidi Ganahl, CEO of Camp Bow Wow, a national pet services company. Be specific without being critical — not "You ruined my dog!" but "I wanted Brady's muzzle an inch long and his ears rounded. That's the way he's always been groomed here." Then let the manager suggest a solution, and keep negotiating. If you're told they'll groom your dog for free next time, you can say, "Thanks, but I need him looking his best by this weekend. Can someone else even his coat out now?"

In your case, though you've already left the scene of the crime, you still have recourse, says Ganahl. Call the manager and say, "I didn't realize it at pickup, but my dog's haircut isn't what I wanted, and I'm awfully disappointed." Don't hang up until you come to an agreement. If you don't feel satisfied with the salon's best offer, it's probably time to switch groomers. And wherever you wind up, take an extra minute to speak directly to the stylist. Precise direction — how long you want the coat, what shape you want the ears and tail — will help prevent bad hair days.

The last few visits to the dog park, my Yorkie has been bullied by a larger dog. The owner (who is always on her cell phone) is oblivious. What can I do?

"Most people want their dogs to behave well," says GH etiquette expert Peggy Post. To get the owner's attention, establish eye contact and hold up a finger in the universal "I need you for a moment" gesture. Then you can nicely say, "You might not have noticed, but your dog keeps taking my Yorkie's rawhide — can you help out?" Odds are, says Post, "she'll make an effort to intervene." If, however, the owner balks at this request, perhaps there are posted rules you could point out; most dog runs address aggressive behavior. (If the rules aren't posted, get a copy from your town government; you may be able to download one online. Keep it in your pocket for your next encounter.) Or, appeal to a park ranger.

A friend volunteered to pet-sit for a week, gratis. When I came home, my cat had an infected wound; the vet said it was probably from a fight, but Misty is indoor-only. How should I deal with my pal — and the vet bill?

"Before you blame your friend, ask yourself if you were completely clear about your pet's care," says Karen Johnson, D.V.M., client advocate for Banfield Pet Hospital, a network of more than 790 practices nationwide. Did you explain that the cat wasn't to go outside? Did you leave the vet's phone number?

Even if you explicitly said Misty was indoor-only, the feline's escape was probably an unavoidable accident. "A cat that's stressed about being left alone may bolt when the door opens," Johnson explains. And your friend might not have noticed the injury, since infection can take a few days to develop and animals, when injured, tend to hide. In other words, the responsibility for the pet (and the bill) lies with you, especially since the friend was doing you a favor.

If you feel you must bring up the matter because you need closure, Peggy Post suggests saying, "I really appreciate your minding Misty, but it was upsetting to come home and have to rush her to the vet. She had an abscess that had to be drained. Do you know what happened?" Most likely, the friend will express regret, and he or she may contribute to the cost of your cat's care. In the future, consider using a pet-sitting service. Not only are pros attuned to critters' potential quirks, but they also should have insurance for scenarios like this.

Our neighbors leave their dog tied up in their yard at night — and he barks nonstop. Help!

"Don't get to a point where your frustration shows," says Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. Speak up soon: If you're friendly, do it face-to-face (but not mid — bark-a-thon, when you're hopping mad). Say, "I've been concerned — your dog's been barking a lot when he's left outside at night. Do you think something can be done?" If you don't really know (or care for) the neighbor, say the same thing in a note, and end with your name and phone number or e-mail address.

You can also investigate what protection you have under the law by contacting your local sheriff's office or police department. Fourteen states and many municipalities have anti-tethering ordinances that make it illegal for owners to keep a dog chained, tied, or otherwise left outside without shelter. (For a full list, go to animallaw.info/articles/ovustetherlaws.htm .) Your last resort would be to make a formal complaint to the authorities; doing so won't win you a Neighbor of the Year award, but it may get you some relief.

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10 Common Dog Behavior Problems and Solutions

Causes and Solutions When Your Pet Misbehaves

pet problems solved

Dog behavior problems are often misunderstood or mishandled by dog owners. Perhaps you are new to dog ownership , considering getting a dog , or just wish to help your dog with a challenging issue. Thoroughly understanding the most common dog behavior problems is the first step to solving and preventing them. A solid foundation of obedience training will help you prevent or better control many of these issues.

The Spruce / Charlotte Engelsen

Most dogs vocalize in one way or another. They may bark, howl, whine and more. Excessive barking is considered a behavior problem.

Before you can correct excessive barking, determine why your dog is vocalizing in the first place. The most common types of barking are:

  • Warning or alert
  • Playfulness and excitement
  • Attention-seeking
  • Responding to other dogs

Learn to control excessive barking. Consider teaching them bark/quiet commands . Be consistent and patient. Address any underlying causes of barking. Dedication and attention to detail can go a long way to stop a dog from barking .

Chewing is a natural action for all dogs. In fact, chewing is an important activity for most dogs; it's just part of the way they are wired. However, excessive chewing can quickly become a behavior problem if your dog causes destruction. The most common reasons dogs chew include:

  • Puppy teething
  • Boredom or excess energy
  • Curiosity (especially puppies)

Encourage your dog to chew on the right things by providing plenty of appropriate chew toys . Keep personal items away from your dog. When you are not home, keep your dog crated or confined to an area where less destruction can be caused.

If you catch your dog chewing the wrong thing, quickly distract your dog with a sharp noise. Then, replace the item with a chew toy. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so it can wear off energy and be stimulated in that way rather than turning to chewing.

If given the chance, most dogs will do some amount of digging ; it's a matter of instinct. Certain dog breeds, like terriers, are more prone to digging because of their hunting histories. In general, most dogs dig for these reasons:

  • Anxiety or fear
  • Hunting instinct
  • Comfort-seeking (such as nesting or cooling off)
  • Desire to hide possessions (like bones or toys)
  • To escape or gain access to an area

It can get rather frustrating if your dog likes to dig up your yard. Try and determine the cause of the digging, then work to eliminate that source. Give your dog more exercise, spend more quality time together, and work on extra training . If digging seems inevitable, set aside an area where your dog can freely dig, like a sandbox. Train your dog that it is acceptable to dig in this area only.

Separation Anxiety

The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly discussed dog behavior problems. Manifestations include vocalization, chewing, inappropriate urination and defecation, and other forms of destruction that occur when a dog is separated from his owner. Not all of these actions are the result of separation anxiety. Signs of true separation anxiety include:

  • The dog becomes anxious when the owner prepares to leave.
  • Misbehavior occurs in the first 15 to 45 minutes after the owner leaves.
  • The dog wants to follow the owner around constantly.
  • The dog tries to be touching the owner whenever possible.

True separation anxiety requires dedicated training, behavior modification , and desensitization exercises. Medication may be recommended in extreme cases.

Inappropriate Elimination

Inappropriate urination and defecation are among the most frustrating dog behaviors. They can damage areas of your home and make your dog unwelcome in public places or at the homes of others. It is most important that you discuss this behavior with your veterinarian first to rule out health problems. If no medical cause is found, try to determine the reason for the behavior, which can come down to one of the following:

  • Submissive/excitement urination
  • Territorial marking
  • Lack of proper housebreaking

Inappropriate elimination is unavoidable in puppies, especially before 12 weeks of age. Older dogs are another story. Many dogs require serious behavior modification to rid them of the habit once it becomes ingrained. You might, for example, try using positive reinforcement techniques to train your dog to use a doggy doorbell to signal you when it needs to go outside to potty.

Begging is a bad habit, but many dog owners actually encourage it. This can lead to digestive problems and obesity. Dogs beg because they love food. However, table scraps are not treats, and  food is not love.  Yes, it is hard to resist that longing look, but giving in "just this once" creates a problem in the long run. When you teach your dog that begging is permitted, you are sending the wrong message.

Before you sit down to eat, tell your dog to go to its place , preferably where it will not be able to stare at you. If necessary, confine your dog to another room. If it behaves, give it a special treat only after you and your family are completely finished eating.

A dog's desire to chase moving things is simply a display of predatory instinct. Many dogs will chase other animals, people, and cars. All of these can lead to dangerous and devastating outcomes. While you may not be able to stop your dog from trying to chase, you can take steps to prevent disaster.

  • Keep your dog confined or on a leash at all times (unless directly supervised indoors).
  • Train your dog to come when called .
  • Have a dog whistle or noisemaker on hand to get your dog's attention.
  • Stay aware and watch for potential triggers, like joggers.

Your best chance at success is to keep the chase from getting out of control. Dedicated training over the course of your dog's life will teach him to focus his attention on you first, before running off.

Jumping up is a common and natural behavior in dogs. Puppies jump up to reach and greet their mothers. Later, they may jump up when greeting people. Dogs may also jump up when excited or seeking an item in the person's hands. A jumping dog can be annoying and even dangerous.

There are many methods to stop a dog's jumping, but not all will be successful. Lifting a knee, grabbing the paws, or pushing the dog away might work in some cases, but for most dogs, this sends the wrong message. Jumping up is often attention-seeking behavior, so any acknowledgment of your dog's actions provide an instant reward, reinforcing the jumping.

The best method is to simply turn away and ignore your dog. Walk away if necessary. Do not make eye contact, speak, or touch your dog. Go about your business. When he relaxes and remains still, calmly reward him. It won't take long before your dog gets the message.

Dogs bite and nip for several reasons, most of which are instinctive. Puppies bite and nip to explore the environment. Mother dogs teach their puppies not to bite too hard and discipline them when needed. This helps the puppies develop bite inhibition. Owners often need to show their puppies that mouthing and biting are not acceptable by continuing to teach bite inhibition .

Beyond puppy behavior, dogs may bite for several reasons. The motivation to bite or snap is not necessarily about aggression. A dog may snap, nip, or bite for a variety of reasons.

  • Defensiveness
  • Protection of property
  • Pain or sickness
  • Predatory instinct

Any dog may bite if the circumstances warrant it in the dog's mind. Owners and breeders are the ones who can help decrease the tendency for any type of dog to bite through proper training , socialization, and breeding practices.

Dog aggression is exhibited by growling, snarling, showing teeth, lunging, and biting. It is important to know that any dog has the potential to show aggression, regardless of breed or history. However, dogs with violent or abusive histories and those bred from dogs with aggressive tendencies are much more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior towards people or other dogs.

Unfortunately, some breeds are labeled "dangerous" and banned in certain areas. However, it's not usually about the breed so much as it's about history. A dog's environment has a major impact on behavior. Also, regardless of breed, a dog may inherit some aggressive traits. Fortunately, most experts agree that breed-specific legislation is not the answer.

Reasons for aggression are basically the same as the reasons a dog will bite or snap, but overall canine aggression is a much more serious problem. If your dog has aggressive tendencies, consult your vet first as it may stem from a  health problem . Then, seek the help of an experienced dog trainer or behaviorist . Serious measures should be taken to keep others safe from aggressive dogs.

Dogs and Destructive Chewing . VCA Animal Hospitals.

Separation Anxiety . Merck Veterinary Manual.

Loftus, John P, and Joseph J Wakshlag. Canine and feline obesity: a review of pathophysiology, epidemiology, and clinical management .  Veterinary medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)  vol. 6, pp. 49-60, 2014. doi:10.2147/VMRR.S40868

Why Breed-specific Legislation is not the Answer . American Veterinary Medical Association.

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Pet problems feature goldfish with “get me outta here” speech bubble

From bored goldfish to sexist dogs: 13 common pet problems - solved!

Does your rabbit chew the table legs? Are your gerbils constantly squabbling? Our crack squad of animal behaviourists are here to help

R emember last summer, when it emerged that a scruffy blond resident of No 10 couldn’t get a grip on his amorous urges ? Well, here’s hoping Dilyn, the Johnsons’ jack russell cross, has since undergone some training. As many of the 3.2 million UK families who acquired a pet during the pandemic are discovering, our animals’ behaviour doesn’t always reflect well on us, particularly if we forgot to learn a few key details – like how to look after them properly.

Now we’re paying: dog trainers and animal behaviourists are reporting overwhelming surges in interest. But whether your house rabbit is undermining your housekeeping efforts or the pekingese is staging post-pandemic protests – don’t panic. Our panel of experts – from aquatic vets to dog therapists – is here to help.

cat with “you talking to me?” speech bubble

Since I’ve gone back to the office, I keep coming home to find that my cat has peed on my bed. What’s going on? Defecating and elimination outside a designated litter box is a sign of discontentment, communicating that they are either not happy or are stressed by something (medical or psychological).

It can be a coping mechanism; leaving scent in various areas makes them feel safe. Your first port of call should be your vet, to rule out medical problems. Then, contact a behaviourist (try the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association ) for a home visit. Once they have a definitive diagnosis they will set out a plan for you to follow to resolve this problem.

My (female) cat adores my husband but hates me. Is she trying to oust me, and how can I fix this? I am sure your cat doesn’t hate you; she wouldn’t even understand that emotional state. Cats choose their favourite people for a variety of reasons, from liking their natural odour, or that person either sitting in the spot they like or being the one who usually feeds them. Sometimes, it’s also to do with the cat’s background – traumas can alter how they respond to their new guardians. So: how to fix it. Become the cat’s only feeder, start to play more with her, and oust your husband from his favourite armchair. Failing this, you might just have to accept your cat prefers his company. Sorry.

My once docile cat keeps trying to nip our baby (who, in fairness, quite likes to grab the cat’s tail). Cats and babies are a delicate balance. Babies cry loudly, take away Mum and Dad’s attention, leave all kinds of new smells around the home and – yes – like to grab body parts. I would invest in a few cat towers or climbers, to help your cat get up high and out of the reach of tiny hands. Then your cat can relax while adapting to the small new alien in their territory. In the meantime, as your baby grows, it can be shown how to play gently using long rod toys, gentle pats on the back and treats in the hand.

Anita Kelsey , cat behaviourist and author of Let’s Talk About Cats: Conversations on Feline Behaviour

dog with “I need a shrink” speech bubble

I think my dog may be sexist. He barks at men, especially those in hoodies. What can I do? While not sexist, dogs absolutely can discriminate – fears can be related to gender, age or skin tone, and usually stem from an early negative experience. Start off by giving him lots of treats every time you see any men at a distance (saving something especially delicious for gents in hoodies). He’ll start to pair the sight of a man with something positive. In the meantime, just remember to keep plenty of space between you and those scary men. Proximity can be built up over time.

Last month, we sent our dog to kennels for the first time. When we picked him up, he seemed low. I thought he was sulking but, a month later, I worry he’s depressed. How can we cheer him up? First things first – get him checked by the vets to ensure no hidden injury or sickness was picked up while he was away. Staying somewhere new, away from creature comforts and trusted humans, can be really tough. Think of things he enjoys doing, and try to do a few of them every day to boost his mood. Sniffing, playing and chewing are all great activities for creating feelgood vibes. For next time, it’s worth looking into a trusted home pet sitter.

How do I stop my labrador scavenging when he’s out walking, particularly other dogs’ poo? Coprophagia (poo-eating) is definitely one of the less appealing doggy pastimes. There are a number of reasons for it – poor diet, hunger, boredom or even attention seeking. It can also be a symptom of poor gut health, so it’s definitely worth getting your dog checked by their vet. It’s also important to build up his focus on you and other forms of fun. Playing games with food or toys, alongside working on a strong “leave it” cue, will help manage scavenging.

My rescue dog insists on humping other dogs. He’s already been neutered . What to do? Interestingly, humping isn’t always related to sexual activity. It can be displayed when a dog is stressed, or even be a sign of an underlying health issue. In the short term, interrupt play regularly (start with every 20 seconds) to turn your dog’s focus away from the other dog and towards you or some scattered treats. If your dog gets easily overexcited during play, teach him a new word that means they have to look at you in order to earn a delicious treat immediately. Start teaching it at home where things are calm, before slowly taking it out into the world of distractions. Caroline Wilkinson , dog behaviourist, dog yoga practitioner and founder of digital pet -coaching service, Barket Place

My goldfish tank smells, despite constant cleaning. Is there an aquatic equivalent to F ebre ze ? The majority of aquarium smells are due to an excess in organic waste, such as fish faeces and uneaten food, and subsequent bacterial blooms. Goldfish are messy creatures and will pollute a tank quickly if not maintained. Start by checking water quality to confirm whether the filter is adequately processing waste. If waste levels are high, assess your tank for overfeeding and overstocking – as a rule of thumb you should allow 20 gallons (90 litres) per goldfish.

Generally, I recommend a partial water change of 20% to 50% weekly, making sure to siphon the substrate at the bottom of the tank where organic material collects. The closest and safest option we have to Febreze is running activated carbon in the filter unit, which does an excellent job at binding odour-causing pollutants.

My boyfriend insists our goldfish need stimulation. He buys them new ornaments monthly and last week I caught him ‘re arranging their furniture’. Is he right? Fish are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. Israeli scientists have just conducted a study which found that goldfish, in a tank on wheels, were able to navigate themselves around a room – an amazing demonstration of spatial awareness and cognitive function. Other studies have shown preferences in goldfish to spend more time in enriched stimulating environments, which to me indicates some level of benefit or enjoyment. Alternative forms of stimulation include a varied diet, live plants and hand feeding. Dr Bryony Chetwynd-Glover, director of London Aquatic Veterinary Services

Rabbits and rodents

Last year, we got a sweet house rabbit , but she chews everything from the carpet to the table legs. Please help . This is perfectly normal behaviour for rabbits, it’s just not very convenient for us humans and becomes dangerous if they nibble through electrical cables (phone charger leads are particular favourites). There are a few things you can do. First, redirect this natural chewing behaviour towards more appropriate items: hay, clean deciduous tree branches, woven willow balls, etc. Second: make sure she has the companionship of another rabbit or two. Rabbits are a social species and must, for good welfare, live in pairs or small groups. Last, baby gates and puppy crates make good barricades against precious items or areas.

My son had two gerbils (Elsa and Ana). A few weeks ago, Elsa died. I panicked and bought a look a like while my son was at school. But they fight constantly, and he’s now confused. What do I do? I’m afraid you are going to have to come clean with your son. Gerbils, like humans, have preferences for one another, and should have an input on their new partner. This can be done at a rescue centre to see who gets along best. If Ana and Elsa grew up with one another, they will have been more likely to get on anyway.

It’s possible the new pairing might get on better if you introduce them on neutral territory as the new Elsa is an intruder into Ana’s home. So, let them live together, somewhere new, for a couple of weeks before moving them back to their home.

Help! My daughter got a mouse for Christmas. A few days ago, I let it escape. How can I tempt it back? This is a very common scenario. Try to ensure there is no food left accessible to them, including cupboards and work surfaces. Then put out a temptingly baited humane trap, or even a ramp leading up to a suitable glass or plastic smooth-sided container with something soft in the bottom and food in it to keep them fed overnight. It might take several days or even weeks, but as long as there are no predators such as cats in the house, you should catch him or her safely soon.

Dr Richard Saunders , scholar in zoo and rabbit medicine at Bristol Zoo and vet specialist adviser to the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund

My son wants a lizard but the idea of feeding it baby mice makes me retch (I’m vegan). Are there any reptiles that can have a plant-based diet? Different species of reptiles need different diets and it is crucial they receive the correct nutrition in order to thrive, whether this comes from a meat-based, plant-based or even insect-based diet.

Some reptiles, like many tortoises, are herbivores and require a plant-based diet to thrive; while others, such as bearded dragons, can have a largely plant-based diet in captivity but may need to supplement this with insects.

It is important to ensure reptiles get adequate protein in their diets and ways of doing this will differ depending on the species.

Not all species will be suitable pets for children as they have complex needs that must be fulfilled to make sure they are happy and healthy. It’s vital to think twice and talk to an exotics vet to ensure you can meet all of the health and welfare needs of a reptile before getting one as a pet. Dr Justine Shotton , president of the British Veterinary Association

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Learn How To Talk To Animals

Learn How To Talk To Animals

Animal Communication Training with Val Heart

Written by Val Heart • Published 12/28/2021 • Reading Time 7 Minutes

The Essential KEY to Solving Pet Problems Most People Don’t Understand

pet problems

Just a typical day at the office for me solving pet problems…

Q: “Why does Buddy without Prozac get a crazy look in his eyes and want to tear someone’s face off?”

Me: *nods* “When we communicate with Buddy, he can tell us why he does that.

That’s the first step in solving every behavior problem.”

Them: “Oh, really? That’s great!”

Different Q:

“Why does he act afraid when we have had him since he was 4 weeks old and he has never been abused?”

Me: “When we communicate with him, he can tell us why he does that.

We’ll find out what he’s responding to that you can’t see (and don’t understand yet), and why his behavior makes perfect sense to him.”

Them: “Oh, I guess that’s true. I’d love to know what he’s thinking.”

Yet another Q:

“My cat is a good boy. The only thing I am having trouble with is getting him to understand not to scratch on the sofa.

He has a cat tower covered in carpet and two scratching posts, but I can’t seem to get him to use them.

He prefers the furniture. He already destroyed one sofa. How can I get him to stop?”

Me: “Only he knows why he’s doing that, so our first step is to communicate with him.

When we do he can tell us why his behavior makes perfect sense to him and why he doesn’t like using the cat tower and scratching posts. What it is about the sofa that makes him want to scratch it instead.

And we can explain why this is a serious problem for you, so he understands how you feel, too.

After that, we can go to work redirecting his behavior so we can solve this expensive issue.”

Them: “Oh, really? That makes sense. When can we start?”

Are you starting to sense a pattern here? There’s a theme, see if you can find it.

Here’s another q:.

“Is there a guarantee that your communication (and/or healing) service will fix my animal (or me)?”

Me: “Actually, no one on this planet can make guarantees of results. Because no one has a crystal ball.

I’m not in control of everything that affects you and your animal, OR, what you choose to do with the information, coaching, healing, and intuitive guidance.

And no, this isn’t just about me and my services – that’s true for everyone in every field of practice, whether they are doctors, lawyers, or your veterinarian.

This work isn’t rocket science, and I’m not ‘selling’ widgets guaranteed to perform in a certain way.

These kinds of Soul Journey life experiences and lessons and evolvement are uniquely personal, for YOU and your animal.

My job is to serve you and be in alignment with your highest best good for all concerned.

To solve pet problems, I use my 30 plus years of professional experience, extensive education, and advanced training, along with my proprietary systems and processes to solve problems with pets.

I am very good at communicating, healing, and guiding my clients (and students) to get the results you want as quickly as possible.”

Client: “Oh, I get it now.”

Consider this both a comforting message and a kick in the pants.

The first thing to do to solve the pet problems you are facing applies to EVERY problem you could have.

As long as you’re telling yourself the story that you’re the only one who has a certain struggle and that there should be a one-size-fits-all solution to make your pet behave better, like a magic pill or applying mind control, that gives you an excuse to hide from the answer.

So… no more hiding.


It’s time to communicate!

I am using frequent, regular emails and my Facebook presence to share every tip I can for helping you solve all kinds of problems with animals (and yes, it works with people too).

Join me on Facebook >> HERE !

Sign up for Animal Heart Talk emails and get your copy of my free ebook Hidden Secrets to Communicating with Pets >> HERE ! 

The first answer, in every case and with every situation involving pet problems, is to communicate with them .

In fact, communication is where every problem-solving adventure begins whether the problem is with your coworker, spouse, kids, and yes, your animal.

Communication is so important, it is the first step in the HEART System, my 5 Step Process for solving problems.

My hope today is that if you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t apply those teachings because you/your animal are “different,” you’ll now start to see the teachings with new eyes.

Because when you communicate and better understand each other’s viewpoints, you come into alignment and partner up to solve problems together as a team.

When we listen to them, they feel heard, respected, understood… just like you.

Now everything gets easier because you can understand them by speaking their language.

No more expensive guesswork!

They can tell you exactly how they feel and what they think, why they do what they’re doing.

Sometimes the problem isn’t so much with them as it is with YOU, the signals you’re giving off, your thinking, your inadequate caretaking, the stress you’re living with, your wounds, and your confusion/cloudy thinking.

Often, it’s about using the wrong things like the wrong cat tower in the wrong place….

Or a painful bit or saddle fit issue (or other unknown pain problem) for your horse…

Or the wrong harness or collar for your dog, or wrong training approach…

Or feeding the wrong food or treats, things that make them sick or act out…

Or it’s an unknown element like hidden pain or the unseen that must be dealt with.

But you wouldn’t know any of that until you talked with them in a heart to heart, mind to mind conversation.

hidden pain

I can teach you how to talk with animals!

That’s why my Heart Wisdom work is so unique and includes a wide variety of therapies, healing techniques and expertise.

I discovered early on in my 30 plus years of professional experience that just doing animal communication isn’t always enough to get you where you want to go. We need more.

Those extra bits are discovered and solved in the other 4 Steps in the HEART System Process.

Still, the conversation, connecting in the right way, asking the right questions in the right way and timing is critical to your success.

It is fascinating, because every animal has their own unique story… just like you do.

Imagine that!

There’s a lot to discover if you want to communicate clearly once you get out of your human centered viewpoint.

When I first started solving behavior problems with animals, and teaching students how to do it too, I discovered that they always have very good reasons for their behavior.

Our job is to find out what those reasons are, and to learn how to communicate clearly in a two-way, heart to heart, mind to mind conversation.

Start with a love connection and communication.

pet problems 2

These are the complex issues that my clients and students work on (and are the kinds of things I help them solve).

The communication and problem-solving processes I’ve described here are the kind that I take my private clients and coach my animal talk students through in The Heart School of Animal Communication courses and in the BEST Online Animal Talk Coaching & Mastery Club’s Live Classes.

If you know what you want your animal to do but you’re not communicating clearly enough to solve those problems, I help you to really pin down how to connect mind to mind, heart to heart…

From there, let’s be crystal clear on what exactly to SAY, HOW to say it, the right questions to ask in the right way and timing, how to convey that as a message they can understand, and how to listen to your animal in return.

Hands down, THIS is the secret sauce behind happy, healthy, well-behaved animals.

And if your pet is happy, then you’re happy, right?

That’s why my students (and clients) discover that communicating with animals the Heart Wisdom way is a life transformational, spiritual journey of healing, evolving and growing. ​ ​

These are the complex issues and advanced intuitive skills that I use with my clients and students. ​ ​

Remember…​ ​

All you have to do to be good at communicating with animals is to learn what you don’t know yet, practice, and do the inner work.​ ​

Seriously, I can coach students all day long about animal communication and healing so you can enjoy extraordinary conversations and interactions with animals.​ ​

To do that, we have to increase your awareness, and grow your ability to understand.

​ ​At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for actually working with someone and getting the feedback that is tailored to you so that you can practice and learn – and yes, understand each other – more efficiently and effectively.​ ​

​ ​Because if you can’t talk with your pet as easily as chatting with your best friend, then now’s the perfect time to learn how to communicate. ​ ​

The Heart Wisdom techniques I’ve described in this email are taught in The Heart School of Animal Communication , which offers a mixture of self-study material, opportunities to practice communicating with other animal lovers and their animals, and coaching calls with me.​ ​

If you’d like to experience similar training, support and coaching to what were described in this post, and advance your intuitive skills, I recommend starting sooner than later.

Now, you have a choice to make.

  • Option A: Learn how to talk with animals yourself so you can solve your own problems with pets… (find out how to do that HERE , starting with your free ebook)
  • Option B: Hire an expert to sort things out for you 1:1 privately… (find out how to do that HERE under 1:1 Work with Val)
  • Option C: Get expert coaching in the Animal Talk Coaching & Mastery Club HERE
  • Option D: All of the Above.

Whatever you do, do it sooner rather than later.

Imagine how your life will change when you have peace, clarity, confidence, and a clear connection with animals, and you can communicate with animals anytime you wish, easily solving your own problems.

Your thoughts? Questions?

Be sure to leave your comment below.

Wishing you and your pets health, love, and good relationships!

Be sure to pick up your copy of my free ebook to get started. Your animal needs you to speak their language sooner than later. They have a lot to tell you.

Download my FREE Ebook Hidden Secrets to Communicating with Animals – just click on the picture below!

pet problems solved

Enjoyed this article about pet problems and animal communication? Here are three more of our most popular posts you’ll like too:

Who’s your spirit animal? The truth may surprise you Clairaudience and 7 Ways to Grow Your Intuition Exploring animal telepathy: How to send a powerful message in 3 easy steps

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6 Pet Problem Solvers That Work

  • Peggy Frezon

These products can help ease common pet behavior concerns

The feeder's maze of ridges slows Ernest down when eating.

Struggling with your dog’s or cat’s behavior? There may be a pet product that can help . We’ve done the research so you can find the right one for your needs. Remember: Some behavioral problems have a medical basis, so be sure to report any concern or change in behavior to your veterinarian first.

Your pet is anxious or afraid.

When you leave the house, does your dog bark or whine incessantly, or your cat yowl? One option for addressing separation anxiety is calming pheromones. Pet pheromones mimic a calming chemical naturally released by a dog or a cat. Pheromones can come in the form of a handy room spray or mist, a plug-in diffuser, or a collar or bandana.

Some pets are afraid of loud noises. A snug anxiety shirt or vest can help many cats and dogs settle down during thunderstorms, fireworks and other stressful situations. The pressure of the shirt works much the way that swaddling an infant does. You can also play targeted calming music, a tactic sometimes used in humane societies and rescue shelters. Look for clinically tested music that is shown to produce a calming effect in animals.

Your pet is bored.

If you’ve ever come home to find chewed furniture and shredded pillows, you know that’s how some pets entertain themselves when left alone. Why not provide more acceptable options to keep them occupied ? We like interactive toys such as puzzles that release treats when solved. These are available for both dogs and cats . Puzzles range in their degree of difficulty and involve actions such as rolling balls, turning discs, uncovering compartments, moving sliders, flipping beakers and even solving a maze to get to treats.

Your dog pulls on the leash.

Are you walking your dog, or is your dog walking you? If your pup is a strong and consistent puller, a leash attached to a collar can be ineffective and lead to neck pain or injury. A back-clip harness actually makes it easier for your dog to pull. 

Instead, try a front-clip harness, which has the leash attachment at the center of the chest. When your dog pulls, the harness puts pressure across his shoulders and turns him to the side, away from what he’s straining toward. Another option is a head collar, a device that fits around a dog’s head and has the leash attachment under his chin. In addition to training classes , either of these products can help you feel more secure and in control on walks.

Your pet gulps down dinner.

Pets who eat too fast can suffer an upset stomach, belching, and a life-threatening condition called bloat. One way to combat this problem: a slow feeder. This sort of food bowl contains ridges and mazes that make your pet eat at a healthier pace. Another type of slow feeder has protruding fingers that resemble a patch of grass. Yet another requires your pet to spin its lid to uncover hidden compartments of food. Puzzle balls release one or two pieces of food at a time when pushed or batted. Another popular option is a snuffle mat, which is made of soft, washable cotton. You hide bits of dry kibble in the mat to encourage your cat or dog to forage for its food. (For crafty folks, there are even instructions you can find online to make your own.) 

Your pet won’t take medication.

If your pet hates her meds, try hiding the pills in special soft, hollow treats. Just push the pill or capsule into the pocket and pinch the ends closed. The odor and flavor of the treat will mask the smell and taste of the pill. The little pockets are easy and convenient to use.

Your dog hates to be groomed.

Do you have a dog who won’t stand still for grooming or a bath? Use a distraction device, such as a bumpy silicon pad that you smear with peanut butter and stick to the side of the bathtub. Your dog will stand still and happily lick the peanut butter while you scrub in the suds. The pad sticks to any shiny surface, so you can use it while you clean his ears, brush his fur or trim his nails.

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Pet problems solved: A guide to dealing with difficult dogs and cats

Simple tech solutions for your fury friend's troubles.

Pet problems solved: A guide to dealing with difficult dogs and cats

Simple tech solutions for your fury friend's troubles.

We love our pets, yet they don't always act like perfect little angels. Sometimes they are naughty and dig up your yard or garden, do their business on your floor or carpet, or destroy a pillow or dog toy like Rosie did in the picture below.


Rosie the brown labrador

We love our pets, yet they don't always act like perfect little angels.  (Kurt Knutsson)

Luckily, we have some great solutions you can start using immediately to take care of your problem pet.

1. Dig Defence

Backyard dog fence

The Dig Defence fence extender helps keep pets in your yard, and predators out. (Dig Defence)

Rod Wheeler wrote to us about his product called Dig Defence for dogs with digging problems. This fence extender helps keep your pets in and keep predators out.

You can easily install this spiked panel right in front of your fence. Even if your dog continues to dig, they’ll just find themselves face to face with more fence.


The fence is built to give you a lifetime of service with no maintenance and no wasted energy costs. At the time of publishing, this product had over 1,800 global reviews on Amazon with 71% of consumers giving it 5 stars.

Get Dig Defence

2. Indoor pet barrier

Dog collar ad

This Indoor Pet Barrier from PetSafe keeps your pet protected. (PetSafe)

If your dog has a problem with chewing, try an indoor pet barrier to keep them out of certain areas of your home. Save your furniture using custom boundaries while also protecting your dog from being where it shouldn’t be.

We tested this Indoor Pet Barrier from PetSafe, which allows you to keep your pets away from unlimited areas in your home. It can protect anywhere from 5 inches to 2.5 feet in width. At the time of publishing, this product had over 400 global reviews and 58% gave it 5 stars.

Get the PetSafe indoor pet barrier 

3. Wireless outdoor pet fence 

Dog collar and flags for outdoor fence

An outdoor invisible fence can also help with dogs that tend to run away.  (PetSafe)

You can also use an outdoor invisible fence to help with dogs that tend to run away. If you’re nervous, your pet may try to run into the street or out of the garage when you’re not looking, these invisible lines work through a control center you can set up discreetly somewhere like a garage.


Once set up, you can set the boundaries and have your dog wear the collar that comes with the fence. As long as the collar is on, the fence will emit a slight humane shock that doesn’t hurt your dog but instead helps to train them not to run outside a certain area. PetSafe has another great option for outdoor fences, and at the time of publishing, this product had over 12,500 global reviews with 71% giving it 5 stars.

Get wireless outdoor pet fence 

4. Dog training collar 

Doh collar with digital control

Try a vibration collar for dogs who bark too much. (Vsezund)

If you’re dealing with a dog who barks way too much, try a vibration collar. It will help distract the dog wearing it by sensing they are about to bark and triggering a vibrating response to stop them.

We recommend the Vsezund Dog Training Collar because it comes with three safe and humane dog training modes, including beep, vibration, and static. It comes with a remote that has a safety lock, efficiently preventing your dog from unnecessary punishment. It also has a rechargeable and long-lasting battery life.

The receiver will last for 11-15 days after being fully charged, and the remote will last for a month. At the time of publishing, this product had over 6,200 global reviews with 79% giving it 5 stars.

Get Vsezund dog training collar

5. Indoor training mat

Dog bathroom pad

This PetSafe Indoor Training ScatMat could be helpful for any accidents in the house. (PetSafe)

If you’re dealing with a pet that has accidents in the house, try a training mat like this PetSafe Indoor Training ScatMat. You can place it in areas you’ve found your pet marking constantly, and when the mat senses your pet walking there, it’ll make a sound that warns the pet not to mark there.


You can place it on countertops, on the sofa, in doorways, and near trash cans to teach your curious dogs which areas of your home are off-limits. At the time of publishing, this product had over 2,400 global reviews with 70% giving it 5 stars.

Get PetSafe indoor training ScatMat  

6. Dog training bell

Digital dog training bells

The Comsmart Dog Training Bell. (Comsmart)

Another great training product you can use if you're trying to potty train your pet is this Comsmart Dog Training Bell. All you have to do is put the bell on a flat surface, preferably near the door where you will let your pet outside.

The bell can be used for toilet training, home training, therapy games, and prevent burglary training. Plus, they're small and portable, so you can bring them with you anywhere. At the time of publishing, this product had over 6,300 global reviews with 65% giving it 5 stars.

Get Comsmart dog training bell

7. Dog Brick interactive treat puzzle

Interactive dog puzzle toy

An interactive treat puzzle to help dogs work out their energy. (Outward Hound)

If you have a dog that needs to get some energy out of its system, this interactive treat puzzle is the perfect solution. This one comes with three types of treat-hiding compartments. You flip the lid compartments open and slide to reveal two separate treat hiding spots while the removable brick bones conceal the third hidden compartment.


It encourages positive play habits for the dog by reducing anxious dog behavior and redirecting destructive behavior. At the time of publishing, this product had over 99,000 global reviews with 66% giving it 5 stars.

Get Outward Hound Interactive Puzzle

Have you tried any of these products? Let us know how they've helped you with your pet…or let us know if there are any other products that have been helpful training your pet.


For more of my tips, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by clicking the "Free newsletter" link at the top of my website.

Copyright 2023 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved. CyberGuy.com articles and content may contain affiliate links that earn a commission when purchases are made.

Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business beginning mornings on "FOX & Friends." Got a tech question? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy Newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or comment at CyberGuy.com.

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8 Products That Solve Your Biggest Pet Problems

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Pet ownership brings so much joy – the cuddles, the companionship, the laughs! We could never live without our wonderful fur friends.

That said, having a pet can also introduce problems you never thought you’d have. And while we love a creative, DIY solution, it’s sometimes nice to just buy a unique product that was made to solve your specific problem.

So, we rounded up some smart products that may help make pet ownership a little easier so you can focus on the cuddles and not the conundrums.

Problem: Separation Anxiety

Solution: pet camera.

If you’ve been working from home for a while and suddenly have to return to the office, it might be hard for you and your pet to spend so much time apart. To stay connected, consider investing in a pet cam . Many of the ones on the market also include two-way audio and a treat dispenser. This way, you can hear any noises they’re making, talk to them and even give them a treat whenever you want.

Problem: Your Dog Escapes Often

Solution: gps tracker.

No matter how hard you try to contain them, some determined dogs will find ways of breaking free from the house or yard. And nothing is scarier than knowing your dog is wandering around somewhere and could be in danger. If this is a common occurrence in your home, it may be time to get a tracker . You can attach one to your dog’s collar and use an app to see where they are. Some even have the option to get an alert on your phone as soon as the tracker leaves a specified safe zone.

Problem: You’re Not Home in Time for Dinner

Solution: auto-feeder.

You try to be home as soon as you can, but sometimes unexpected things come up. And when they do, you don’t want to think of your pet going hungry. In these cases, an automated feeder comes in handy. You can set it up to release a certain amount of food at set times throughout the day. This is especially useful for cat owners who don’t have to rush home for a walk, but do need to make sure their kitties are being fed.

Problem: Pets Are Eating One Another’s Food

Solution: chip reader feeder.

Is the dog eating the cat food? Or maybe the older, overweight cat is eating the high-calorie kitten food. Whatever your situation is, it can be frustrating trying to police the food situation. Fortunately, there are now microchip feeding bowls that are covered by a lid, which only opens when the cat whose microchip is paired puts its head nearby. Then, as if by magic, the food is uncovered just for them and closes again when they walk away.

Problem: Hair, Hair Everywhere

Solution: hand-held pet hair vacuum.

If everything you own is covered in a fine layer of pet hair… congrats, you’re a pet owner! There’s really no way around this reality if you have a pet who sheds. But there are ways of cleaning up that don’t have to be super labor-intensive. We love the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Vacuum because it’s quick and easy to use, doesn’t take up much space, and is just $37.

Problem: Pills

Solution: pill pocket treats.

Your dog’s health may depend on taking medication in pill form. And while you try to calmly explain how important this is, your pup just won’t listen. If that’s the case, try popping their pill into specially designed dog treats that have a little spot for a pill. We can’t promise your dog won’t outsmart you, but this is definitely worth a try.

Problem: Accidents in the House

Solution: doggie doorbell.

Dogs that are house-trained know they’re not supposed to do their business inside, but they may not be the best at communicating when it’s time to go out. This smart, little dog bell could help. It involves training your dog to see the connection between pressing the bell with their nose and going outside. It might take some time for them to learn, but it could mean never having an accident again.

Problem: Cleaning Litter Boxes is No Fun

Solution: self-cleaning litter box.

No matter how much you love your kitties, you probably don’t love cleaning their litter box. Thankfully, there are now several self-cleaning litter boxes on the market. They are programmed to automatically sift and separate litter so cleanup is a breeze. They are definitely an investment, and some require recurring purchases of special trays, but they could be worth the cost for some cat owners who despise litter box chores.

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Our Pet Experts

7 pet problems — and the products that solve them.

by Shayna Meliker

Published on March 29, 2013

We're always on the lookout for creative products that help with our everyday pet problems — like not having enough space in the bedroom for a cat tree , or trying to alleviate our dogs' chicken- or beef-flavored breath. Of course we love them… we just don't always want a meat-flavored kiss.

So we picked out seven innovative new products that solve common issues that readers like you write in about. Check out the gallery, and you might find a simple solution to a problem you didn't even know you had!

Hangin' Cat Condo

Hangin' Cat Condo

Petchup Condiments

Petchup Condiments

Kong Off/On Squeaker Toys

Kong Off/On Squeaker Toys

Feed Safe

Evercare Scents

Coleash Dog Collar

Coleash Dog Collar

Lickety Stik Gel

Lickety Stik Gel

Read more Vetstreet articles featuring pet products.

Related articles

Dr. marty becker's top 30 pet products of 2011, 5 small dog breeds this vet would like to see more of, meet the 4 cat burglar breeds who like to swipe your stuff, top 10 holiday pet pics, intestinal parasites: the squirm-worthy side of living with dogs, teach your dog to sit when you stop.

Bored Panda

Bored Panda

37 Innovative Products To Easily Solve Annoying Pet Problems

Posted: November 14, 2023 | Last updated: November 14, 2023

Being a pet parent can be joyous yet fraught with challenges. From grooming woes to mealtime messes, owning a pet comes with its own set of headaches. Thankfully, there are innovative products that offer practical solutions to these problems. In this article, we've listed some of these game-changing lifesavers that promise to make pet ownership more hassle-free. From clever home grooming tools to mess-free feeding solutions, let's unravel these pet problem solvers that can enhance not just your furry friend's life, but yours too.

#1 Pet Grooming Kit & Vacuum Suction: A convenient all-in-one tool that offers professional grooming, vacuum functionality for hair collection, and reduces noise for a fuss-free pet grooming experience at home.

Review: "This grooming kit was fantastic, it was really simple to use and left me with little to no clean up after. The vacuum is incredibly quiet, all of the attachments are simple to use and link up to the machine without any issues, and using it with a nervous dog was a breeze. When I first bought the vacuum, my dog's hair was really long. After thirty minutes, I was done and only needed to throw the hair in the trash. The vacuum features two suction power levels, which is useful for thicker dog breeds that require more suction to get the hair into the container. The hair container is compact, but it is simple to remove and dispose of extra hair in the garbage." — Cassidy Morris

Image credits: amazon.com

#2 Dexas Mudbuster Portable Dog Paw Cleaner: An innovative solution to keep your dog's paws clean and your house mud-free; simply add some water, twist, dab the paw dry and repeat!

Review: "This is a life saver... okay maybe that’s a bit dramatic but at least it’s a furniture and floor saver. I have two large Labs, one 115 lbs and one 90lbs. Right now they’re a lot of work to keep clean because my back yard is a muddy mess. The Mudbuster saves my back and a lot of time. I bought the large which is a little over 3.5 inches at the opening but probably could have gotten away with the medium. Im happy I have the large with two dogs because I fill it with warm soapy water once for all eight paws then lightly towel dry. Start out by treat training and lots of praise and before you know it they will be sitting in anticipation of their foot wash." — Sonya Malloy

#3 Elevated Dog Bowls: An arthritis-friendly solution for healthier eating and anti-slip dining experience that grows with your pet from puppyhood to senior years.

Review: "Purchased two of these, one for my tall dog, one for my low dog… The legs fold out- there is nothing to assemble and it’s easy to adjust them up or down. Light weight, but have non-skid pads and the bowls are nice stainless steel and easy to clean! I love how they make my dog area look so organized and neat! if I had a third dog, I would buy a third one! I highly recommend this! PS And can also be taken to Travel since the legs fold…" — S T

#4 Stain & Odor Eliminator: A top-rated solution to eliminate unwanted pet stains and odors from every surface, ensuring a fresh and clean home without the use of harmful chemicals.

Review: "I’m was legitimately floored by how effectivly this product was able to clean a few really nasty old urine stains in my mattress that have hung around through dozens of other attempts to clean them over the past several years... Now I can’t even tell where the stains used to be without looking at my “before” picture—that’s with or without the blacklight! Thank you Rocco & Roxie for restoring my mattress to almost new condition and helping me finally remove these stains that have bothered me for years! Will definitely continue to repurchase for all my urine/pet mess cleanup needs." — Dani

#5 Cat Litter Mat: That catches and traps stray litter, is easily washable, and shield your floors from pet stains.

Review: "This is the first product review I've ever written. But in this case, I felt it my duty to tell you how terrific this litter mat is. The poo station is in a tiled alcove leading out into the garage. The two litter boxes ensure the cats (yes there are two) come out the front and onto the mat. Don't have to deal with taking off a top for cleaning. This tile alcove leads into the tiled laundry room, then into the tiled kitchen, and finally into the hardwood dining room. And they're clean! Even barefoot, I can tell that there are a minuscule number of litter pieces that ever make their way past this mat. The mat is soft (I scrape my bare feet on it after morning cleaning) so the cats do not hesitate to exit onto it. Fantastic! A great solution to an age-old problem of gritty cat litter all over the house." — Kay E. Gilmour MD

#6 Dog Allergy Relief: for a healthier, itch-free pet-life – packed with vitamins, protein, fiber, antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids to support your dog's immune, histamine, and digestive health, and alleviate seasonal allergies.

Review: "Absolutely amazing! The pictures speak for themselves but these are pictures less than 1 month after starting my dog on the Allergy Immune Bites. He was absolutely miserable but after less than 1 week of daily doses, he showed a significant drop in his chewing, licking and scratching and it’s only gotten better. H e loves his daily treat and all I can say is we are thrilled that they actually work without harsh chemicals or nasty side effects. " — nicole m

#7 Pet Dental Care Solution Pet Water Additive: That helps eliminate bad breath, clean teeth, and gums while bypassing the usual toothbrush fuss, just by adding a capful to your pet's water each day!

Review: "My 3 year old corgi had the worst breath!!! Her vet said her teeth looked great so it wasn’t that. We thought it was her food so we tried changing it to different proteins and nothing helped. Found this product and decided to give it a try. It’s fantastic!!!!! Doesn’t seem to change the taste of the water since she’s still drinking like normal. I have been putting it in her water for a week and her breath doesn’t smell like death anymore!!! We will definitely continue to use this product!!!! Highly recommend!!!!!" — Heather

#8 Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter: The go-to solution for keeping your pet's paws healthy and nourished, ensuring their comfort in all climates while defending against cracks and dryness.

Review: "I took a super cute picture of my little girl and noticed how dry her little toe beans looked! I started searching for something to help w that and decided on this product. It worked so well! She seemed to like it when I put it on because she didn't pull away or cuss me out the way chihuahuas do lol. And her paws softened up after the first use! I'll probably put it on daily at first then maybe every other day and see what's needed." — Kat

#9 Dog Car Seat Cover: For a comfortable, clean and safe ride for your pet, providing a custom fit for cars of all sizes and easy-to-clean spill protection for all your furry adventures!

Review: "I have a curious little Klee Kai who likes to look out the windows while I drive - which means as he sits up to look out the windows, he’s off-balance & frequently goes tumbling to the floorboards at even the gentlest stop or turn. This not only keeps my seat clean (a big deal in the rainy Pacific Northwest), but keeps him from getting hurt on everyday rides around town. Easy to install (& uninstall for passengers), & does what it says it will we’ll. Why didn’t I buy this sooner?" — kbroccoli

#10 Automatic Pet Feeder: Simplify your pet's feeding times with customized diets, flexible power options, a voice-recorded meal call and high-capacity storage - perfect for busy pet parents wanting a trouble-free solution for pet feeding while away!

Review: "Bought for a 5-day out of town trip and it worked great. Still had someone keep an eye on the cat and house during that time and give cat a can of wet food, but at least they didn't have to worry about dry food feedings. I have the automatic water fountain, too, so in tandem, the feeder and fountain work great. Pretty simple to assemble, clean, and program the feeding schedule. I use a 3 portion setting for one cat, and set to 5 portion when out of town. Handles both round and triangular shape dry cat food just fine. Our cat is older so she doesn't tinker with gadgets anymore, so no worries about cat food bank heists. She's programmed to the feedings now and rushes to the bowl when the pellets start dropping - if you're a light sleeper, then it may wake you up if you're feeding at 5-6 a.m., but you'll get to where you don't even notice the sound of the food dropping in a metal bowl after a while. It's either the cat waking you up at 5 a.m. to feed them, or have your cat "programmed" to stay near the bowl in the morning and wait for the food to dispense. We've been using this feeder for about a month now, and it still works great!" — Bugman

#11 2pack Dog Bath Brush: Featuring an in-built shampoo dispenser for efficient washing, soft silicon bristles for gentle grooming and massaging, and an ergonomic gripping handle – ideal for maintaining your pet's cleanliness and skin health.

Review: "This little thing worked for this giant!!! What?? I'm shocked! I used it for my maltipoo first and was pleasantly surprised, i was able to cut down the scrubbing time and the amount of shampoo i normally use. But how in the world did it work for our giant labradoodle!!!! Wow you guys get a 10!! Very happy customer." — arely

#12 Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet And Upholstery Cleaner: A versatile stain and odor solution that not only provides powerful suction to tackle your pet's messes, but also contributes to saving homeless pets with every purchase you make!

Review: "This machine is WELL worth the very reasonable price and I also absolutely love being able to restore two chairs rather than buy new ones. Less landfill and consumerism to help the planet...I could not possibly love this little machine more and now I can feel much more confident with all of our new carpet and furniture because if we get a spill or a stain this lightly little green machine will take care of it! I highly recommend the BISSELL Little Green Machine!" — Mrs. Augie

#13 Eye Rinse For Dogs: To alleviate bothers and irritation caused by bacteria, air pollution, and allergens, offering a gentle yet powerful solution to stained, aching, or sensitive puppy eyes.

Review: "When we adopted our Maltese a couple of months ago, he had watery and crusty eyes. It was so bad that he couldn’t open his eyes completely. I had tried different products until I came across this one. At first, I didn’t see much progress, but I kept on applying the Nutri-Vet Eye Rinse every day. Slowly, but surely, his eyes were improving. Four months into the treatment I compared before and after photos and realized he had improved dramatically. I strongly recommend this eye rinse; I still use it just to keep his eyes free of debris." — Jaime Castano

#14 Dog Nose Balm: Your cure-all solution to heal, protect and soften your dog's dry, cracked nose and skin, giving maximum relief using effective vegan ingredients like shea butter, chamomile and rosemary extract.

Review: "I completely recommend this. I'm not sure why the vets I've taken my guy to never said anything about his nose and after our last trip and no one said anything and after months of trying to get something to work I found this product. And man. 2 days I applied this a few times each day. This morning I applied it and pieces of his nose started flaking off. I got a warm wet towel and ALMOST ALL OF HIS LITTLE BARNACLES STARTED WIPING AWAY. I'm still completely shocked that P actually has a nose. I haven't seen it in so long. I'm not 100% what it is that caused this but if this let's me remove it then me and my old man are happy. I'm sure he feels so much better and his nose looks so much better." — Stephane L. Montgomery

#15 Pet Fountain: A quiet, low consumption pet water dispenser with a 2.5L capacity, BPA-free materials, three distict flow designs, and a triple filtration system for keeping your pets healthy, hydrated, and engaged throughout the day.

Review: "We had been putting out multiple bowls of water, letting her drink out of the sink, etc. It was really an issue trying to get her to drink water- she mostly just dug through her dishes and made a huge mess. But she absolutely loves this thing, I see her drinking from it all the time. And there’s no mess from her digging through water bowls and splashing it everywhere. Definitely recommend this, especially if you have multiple cats." — Sunshine

#16 Roller Pet Hair Remover: A fur-banishing, easy-to-use tool for those who adore their pets but dread their shedding! Say goodbye to constant lint rolling and embrace this reusable, sustainable, and effective solution for a hair-free home.

Review: "This thing is magic!!! My couches camouflage dog hair very well! You can’t see it on the couch but it would stick to your clothes when you got up. I have a long haired Sheltie and a short haired Australian cattle dog. Got this thing and the first time I used it it was full with hair!! I am in love. Super easy to push across all the fabric . I was amazed when I opened it up and saw all the hair. I did the front of the couches the cushions and the pillows. If this thing breaks I would spend the money over and over to get a new one. I don’t know why it took me this long to actually buy it. Get it!! You won’t be disappointed!" — Tricia W.

#17 Fun Feeder Slo Bowl: To enrich your pet's mealtime experience, reducing their eating speed by up to 10X, aiding proper digestion and preventing obesity – while its non-slip base and food-safe design ensures a playful and safe feeding experience.

Review: "Our Frenchie pup would literally inhale his food and be super gassy/bloated for hours after each feeding. After we got the slow feeder made for smushed face pups, that has all changed. He eats way slower, isn’t inhaling, he rarely has gas episodes anymore and doesn’t walk around with a bloated swollen belly anymore . He really does seem to be a lot happier now that he is eating his food properly. It is a lot larger than I thought but it easily holds about a cup of dry food spread out which is perfect for us." — Elizabeth Gonzalez

#18 Pet Grooming Gloves: For an efficient, gentle grooming experience that not only banishes stubborn pet hair but also doubles up as a relaxing massage and bath brush, ensuring your pets are clean, happy, and fur-free.

Review: "Before these gloves there was cat hair everywhere. It was on my clothes and towels. I would walk around the house after washing my face and moisturizing and cat hair would just stick to my face. My daughter said after she shook her blanket off “a tornado of hair traveled into the kitchen”. It was becoming a nightmare that I never saw coming. My cats didn’t like the other brushes and I can understand why! The bristles were so sharp. But these gloves really saved us. Not only do they work but my cats love brush time now. I’ve gained control of my home again." — Starr

#19 Wrinkle Paste: A grime-busting, tear-stain removing, and wrinkle cream for dogs that soothes itchiness and promises to keep their skin clear and happy for all breeds.

Review: "This cream is the miracle worker. My 2 year old English Bulldog had a yeast in his wrinkles. I cleaned everyday with hydrogen peroxide but it didnt clear it up. It just kept it from getting worse. Then I used a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and apple cider vinegar but nothing. I also used the products from the Natural Dog Company but my Bully hated the smell. He would act as if I was torturing him when I used the products from the Natural Dog Company. One night I came across this product. It didnt have many reviews and I really didnt see anybody else in the bulldog community use it. I was desperate and decided to give it a try. Within 24 hours of using Squishface I noticed a huge difference. Within 48hrs it was almost gone. By 72 hours it had cleared up. I clean his face before bed and apply the cream. I only use once a day and that was enough for us. I cant say my bully loves it because seriously what bully likes having their wrinkles cleaned? He tolerates it and I love that it worked for us. It has no smell to it, its natural, and it WORKS!" — KS92

#20 Cat Litter Box Enclosure: That helps protect your space from scattered litter, easy to clean and assemble, plus includes an extra cat litter mat for optimal floor protection.

Review: "My kitten (about 3.5 months) sometimes likes to LAUNCH out of the litter box with a force of 1,000 suns, carrying half the litter with him. I switched to a larger litter box and added a hex mat to catch the litter, but that only helped so much. Enter: this thing. It's really just a bunch of papery-plastic panels you can fix together how you want, so it's great for making a maze-type thing your cat must enter before using the litter box. This means he has to take his time when using it, and doesn't fire out as much, and barely carries any litter with him anymore. Plus the benefit of giving your cat some privacy without needing a closed box is a good thing! It also comes with a mat (the light grey one beneath the black mat in the pic) which is porous enough to catch litter as well." — Zak N

#21 Dog Nail Grinder: For safe, effective, and precise pet nail trimming, featuring advanced 2-speed switch, 3 grinding ports, super low noise and vibration, plus, it's rechargeable and portable for easy use anywhere.

Review: "I have a 7 year old yorkipoo and a 14 year old chihuahua. I first purchased nail clippers and couldn’t tolerate the cracking noise everyone I trimmed each nail. I saw this product and said hey this looks like something they use at a nail salon. SinceI purchased this, I no longer have to pay $12-$25 each dog, each visit just for a nail trim. This is a lifesaver. Super easy to use. At first I thought my dogs would be afraid of the sound but it is so quiet that they just lay there and let me trim away. Great investment hands down!!!!" — Ice

#22 Odor Destroyer Litter Powder: To drastically minimize foul litter box smells and prolong your kitty litter's lifespan, making it a must-have for multi-cat homes!

Review: "This has been great! In my small apartment with three cats, it has always been my goal to completely eliminate the smell of litter (and kitten unmentionables) so that when a guest walks into my home, they don't know we have cats (with the exeption od the toys on the floor, lol). Well with the help of this Nature's Miracle deodorizer (used with my favorite unscented litter: Precious Cat Premium Multi-Cat Litter ...the blue bag) not one person has EVER noticed, mentioned, or complained about a cat-smelling home... Since I started using these, I haven't been embarassed by the "your home smells like cat pee" comment that is so common in small multi-cat homes. Even when we leave for a couple days, our home is still odor-free. I swear by it!" — Mallory JM

#23 Stomp 'N Go Pet Lifting Pads: It permanently removes tough stains from carpets, rugs, pet beds, and car interiors without any scrubbing, while also supporting a mission to save homeless pets.

Review: "These are amazing. Just take it out of the packaging, pull off the plastic sheet, and lay it down, step on it, and walk away. Come back when you remember to, and the job is done just throw it away. I have also had a couple of times when I was in a hurry - and just used the pad to scrub up the area, and then dry it with a paper towel - it also came up beautifully. So far, it hasn't damaged any carpets, or affected the dye in the carpet. My old pet carpet cleaner cost me a lot of money, and I couldn't afford to replace it. Now, One box of this lasted me over a year - we have a dog with allergies and sometimes it eats something it shouldn't have... hence the issue. Highly recommend. Box fits easily under your kitchen sink." — wannabe writer

#24 Extra Wide Walk Through Pet Gate: For keeping your pets in check, whether small or big, with its adjustable width, easy installation, and durable design; includes a small pet door and safety-lock ensuring a secure and convenient pet management at home.

Review: "We recently got a large, 70 lb hound dog who is completely controlled by his sense of smell. He was driving us crazy when we are trying to cook or serve meals. Jumping on counters, begging shamelessly, etc. I got this gate to save my sanity and it really works to keep him out! Fairly easy to install, seems pretty firmly held in place by the tension rods. The dog has pushed on it with his front paws several times and it stayed in place. Also, this is way more convenient than typical baby or pet gates because I don't need to put it up and take it down every time I need a boundary. I can leave the door installed and leave it open when I am not cooking and easily walk through. Then when I need to cook in peace it takes 1 second to close the door. I am going to buy a few more of these for other places in the house where I currently have to fight with an older style baby gate every time I need the dog to stay out, like the laundry room which has no door." — Amazon Customer

#25 Flatties With Chew Guard Technology: The ultimate toy that keeps your dog entertained without the annoying noise, perfect for light chewing and fun fetch sessions.

Review: "Bought one for my puppy and also one as a gift for parents of a newborn who’s dog likes squeaky toys. The toy keeps the dog entertained with the silent squeak while keeping all of us sane. So far it’s been durable so I highly recommend!" — Caitie B

#26 Cat Natural Dander Reducing Spray: The safe, gentle and fragrance-free remedy using premium quality ingredients like aloe vera and oatmeal to leave your cat's skin moisturized and coat shiny.

Review: "This product is amazing! My cat gets really bad dandruff in the winter, and it especially stands out against her black fur. I tried both a humidifier and fish oil pills after my vet suggested them, but they didn’t seem to help. I decided to try this, and WOW!... I have never been so satisfied with a product. The smell is good, and her fur feels so soft. She doesn’t seem to mind it being sprayed directly onto her fur. If your cat has dandruff, please don’t hesitate to buy this!" — Montanna

#27 Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge: A durable, reversible cardboard lounge designed not just to keep your cats entertained, but also protect your furniture from scratching, a stylish yet effective solution to your cat's natural instinct to scratch.

Review: "Our cats have a bad habit of trying to scratch the couches, it’s a work in progress but as soon as we got this delivered they have been obsessed! I hid some treats in the narrow part and sprinkled the cat nip it comes with, needless to say we’re thrilled that they’ve taken a liking too it. Quality is great. May buy another so they each have one!" — Kristie

#28 Top Entry Cat Litter Box: To easily reduce litter scatter and help keep your cat's paws clean; featuring a large top entrance and convenient litter scoop, this innovative product makes for an easy and mess-free cat litter solution.

Review: "My male cat was giving us issues with peeing into the crease of our two piece door entry litter box and whenever i opened it to clean it, the pee would leak everywhere. I did a little research and figured that a top entry litter box would maybe fix the problem. This litterbox definitely did solve that problem and i couldn't be happier!! My two cats figured it out pretty quickly and I love that the lid has creases and traps the litter so my littermat barely gets any litter on it. I got the smallest option and both of my cats fit into it without any issues and they're both dramatically different sizes. If you're dealing with a high pee-er i definitely recommend this affordable option!" — Karla

#29 Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish & Conditioner: To easily maintain and protect your wooden furniture from pet scratches, while enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.

Review: "I literally never leave Amazon reviews but felt like I had to spread the word about this product. The previous owners of our house had dogs who scratched the doors into oblivion (as you can see from the before photo). I honestly thought we either had to live with it or buy new doors until I found this product. Unless the scratch is REALLY deep, this stuff blended it right out and you can’t even see the scratches anymore. Super easy to use, smells like oranges. 10/10 would recommend and will use for the rest of my life!" — Sarah Cassidy

#30 Litter Box Liners: To make the most unpleasant part of cat ownership a breeze, these liners help keep your cat’s box clean, so say goodbye to scooping and hello to fast, hassle-free changes!

Review: "It's my first time using liners, I went with these honestly because of the price. They are big which I find great, fits my box perfectly and the material is tough. Now the real test is my cat hopefully not scratching them through. Will update.

Update: I've added a picture to show how clean the box remains after changing first bag. Like said this is strong material, my cat didn't scratch through. Will be buying these bags forever!" — Julie

#31 Tear Stain Remover Combs For Dogs: An easy-to-use grooming solution recommended by vets and professional groomers for maintaining the sparkling clean eyes of your loved ones.

Review: "I was reordering some of my cockapoo’s grooming products and happened to stumble across this little gem. For the price I thought it would be a good tool in my arsenal. He had tear staining as a pup but as a adult he just gets that goop in the corner of his inner eyes. Sometimes I don’t catch the hoop fast enough and it hardens in his muzzle. Even when I do, the goop is slimy and difficult to remove even with dog wipes. This tool is a miracle! Small, light weight and a good value for the price. Just one comb through and I got the sticky wet goop. A few more comb throughs and I found eye gunk that was buried in his muzzle. Most importantly, this comb removed the debris without causing any discomfort to my pooch. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it!" — Joanna

#32 Otic Enzymatic Solution For Dogs And Cats: Provides instant relief from ear infections and discomfort without the need for pre-cleaning, using a gentle, antibiotic-free formula that works wonders on pets of all ages.

Review: "Oh my goodness, this is a lifesaver. My dog had been scratching his ear a lot, and it got to the point he was bleeding, and the skin was red, bumpy, inflamed. He was constantly shaking his head and trying to scratch more, and I felt so terrible because I couldn’t help him. I also got concerned that it would develop into hematomas. We’re on Day 3 of this, and you can see the significant improvement in the before/after. His scratching and head shaking was reduced almost immediately on Day 1 application. Day 3, a lot of the redness is gone. This saved me from a vet appointment, and potentially having been told he needs allergy shots." — Anna C.

#33 Interior Cat Door: Offering private access for your pet and easy DIY installation, so your feline friend can independently explore their special spaces without disrupting your peace.

Review: "Good so far. Installed easily in my hollow core interior door with a skill type saw tool. I used it in conjunction with the cat mate door liner which worked well. The template that came with the door was sized correctly and I cut enough the first time around. I left my door hanging and using the right tools it took total between 30 mins to an hour to install to completion. I would buy again. The wall liner was a nice addition for about 5 bucks to get rid of the rough edges and provide a professional look. I left it a little long for my 1 3/4 inch door as seen in the pics, but I may trim it later. For now it doesn't seem to bother the kittens. Mine are less than 10 lbs right now but I can see how a larger cat or one bigger than the 15 mark might be tight on this door. Not sure if I like the magnet or not, provides a little resistance when they first push on it. The door doesn't swing too freely right now anyway so it doesn't always return to the bottom either way, that's ok for me though. I caulked around the door and liner to give them stability and cover the edges since my door wasn't flat and had inset panels, see pics. Overall glad with the purchase, would buy again." — Shopper

#34 Cat Grass Growing Kit: An easy-to-use organic solution that provides important nutrients and controls hairballs, while also keeping your precious blooms untouched.

Review: " I must say, I have never enjoyed a product so much. The whole process of seeing a seed grow into a beautiful plant is just mesmerizing. If you decide to buy this, it is something that your kids will enjoy. My inner child sure did. It worked exactly as described. I woke up every morning to check on the seeds, and in 3 days I already had an almost fully grown grass wheat. I could almost see it grow right in front of my eyes. Day 4 I felt almost bad to show it to my cats. I have 3, and 2 of them started eating it right away. I didn't even have to put it on their plate. They really enjoy the full experience of rubbing against the grass and chewing on them. I am really enjoying looking at them eating it. I am not giving them a lot, just 5 minutes a day." — Maria Bros

#35 Dog Poop Scooper: Featuring adjustable handles, swivel design and odor-neutralizing waste bags, perfect for any dog owner who values cleanliness and convenience.

Review: "If I could give this more than 5 stars, I would. I’ve used this for over 6 years. I board dogs at my home, so I pick up a lot of poop daily out of a gravel yard, and also out of grass. This is very easy to use and the rake works well on all surfaces." — Kate Travis

#36 Premium Pet Screen: To effortlessly resist tears and damages from your playful pets while keeping your home safe and compliant with health standards, making it a perfect investment for pet owners who value aesthetics and durability.

Review: "I have two cats, one is an avid climber. They are inside only cats (I live near open desert that is full of coyotes), but I like to leave the door open with the screen door secured shut so they can enjoy the air and sounds of outside, but I did not trust the standard screen material to stand up to their claws. Damage is one thing, but I definitely did not want them to tear the screen out enough to escape the house when I was in another room. So I was hoping to find a screen material stout enough to give me the peace of mind to keep the door open during the pleasant months, so I gave this one a try. Soon after installation I heard the familiar sound of claws testing out the new screen door. Despite even finding one cat 6 feet off the ground climbing up the screen, there was not a hint of damage to the screen material! Its has also held in the sliding door frame very well, even with the weight of the cat suspended on it. No bulges or sags!... I have had it installed for over 4 months now and there are still no rips or tears anywhere and I have not had to adjust anything despite cats climbing, scratching at it, and bouncing off of it while chasing their toys. The fact that this stuff is only a few dollars more expensive than the standard fiberglass screen is astonishing, I think it is worth many times the price!" — K2

#37 Pet Hair Rubber Broom: Your ultimate solution to fur-filled surfaces; equipped with a telescopic handle and built-in squeegee, this broom acts like a magnet to pet hair, making cleaning a breeze!

Review: "Y’all… this is the pile of hair that came off my stairs after one use. And this is after regular daily vacuuming. I’m telling you, you need to buy this. My carpets sprang back and look like brand new!!! I couldn’t be more pleased. BUY IT!" — Madison Durfey

37 Innovative Products To Easily Solve Annoying Pet Problems

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Hillside SPCA, Inc.

A truly unique animal shelter., “problem” pets.

Sometimes natural animal behaviors such as barking, digging, scratching, chewing, spraying, soiling and biting can become problems for the owner. Most of these behaviors can be changed or modified to make the situation bearable for all involved. Unfortunately, many pet owners just muddle through. Some would ask for help if they knew where to find it, and others simply surrender the animals to a shelter or pound and hope that they’ll find a new home.

Many pet’s lives end simply because behavior problems lead the owners to “put the animal to sleep”. This is a tragedy of huge proportions. Nationwide, 70% of these pets surrendered to animal shelters are euthanized, making this problem the leading cause of pet mortality, ahead of trauma and disease.

The bottom line is that most behavior “problems” are simply something that is an inconvenience to us humans, like cats scratching the furniture or dogs marking in the home. We must realize that these are natural behaviors for the animals. And we must learn how to react to these behaviors in the correct way. A veterinarian or shelter worker can help you with the situations you are experiencing with you pet. Most “problems” can be overcome with patience and the accurate knowledge of animal behavior and how to react to it.

Many behavior problems are caused by boredom, fear of abandonment (especially if your pet has come from a shelter after being left by it’s original owners), lack of attention, stress and loneliness, medical problems and over-abundance of energy.

Dogs are pack animal and suffer separation anxiety when apart from their owners and/or other pets. Some breeds of dogs are “diggers” (Siberian Huskies are notorious for wanting to change the “landscape” of their yards…) and providing them with a place to dig (sandbox for example) and encouraging the use of it can be very effective.

Many problems can be solved through understanding, patience and praise using proven behavior techniques:

  • Give your pet a lot of love and attention to establish a bond between you.
  • Give your pet plenty of exercise.
  • Have you pet’s health checked annually and be sure vaccinations are current.
  • Have your pet SPAYED or NEUTERED!!
  • Train your pet with patience and kindness to encourage good behavior. Praise when your pet exhibits the behavior you desire instead of scolding when they don’t.
  • Teach your dog the basic “come, sit, stay, down” commands. Attend an obedience class if possible.
  • Do not punish your pet after misbehaving has occurred; she/he won’t understand why you’re upset.
  • Remember that your pet cannot tell the difference between “their” old shoe and “your” new shoe. Never give a pet a shoe, piece of clothing, rag, sock or any other item such as a child’s toy. Give them toys clearly designed for pets and encourage them to use them.
  • Do not use physical punishment; it creates fearful pets and is unnecessary in almost all cases.
  • Consider crate-training your puppy or dog.
  • Provide your cat with a scratching post and encourage the use of it .If your cat is causing problems with scratching, there are inexpensive nail caps (plastic tips that fit over the nails) available at vets and pet stores that dramatically reduce damage to your furniture, etc
  • Trim your cat’s claws on a regular basis. If you start young, the cat learns to accept this as part of grooming. If your cat is older, you can still do this successfully. Ask your veterinarian for tips on trimming your cat’s nails.

Your pet will know he/she is doing the right thing if a reward is given at the time the desired behavior takes place. Treats and/or praise given when good behavior occurs will reinforce it. Use a low, calm voice to quiet a animal. Shrill sounds excite the animals and sometimes confuse them.

Some problems may be health-related:

Many cats refuse to use the litter box when they have a urinary tract infection. Treat the infection and the problem usually disappears. An otherwise housetrained pet who starts soiling in the house may be a sign of gastric distress or urinary tract infection. Diarrhea may be caused by untreated worms. A simple stool or urine sample will reveal if this is the case and treatment usually solves the problem.

Many times, neutering of male dogs will completely eliminate indoor urination and neutering of male cats will help dramatically with “spraying”.

There are many solutions to “problems” your pets, and you as their owners, encounter. Before you give up your pet to a shelter, please, work with them and see if you can’t resolve the issues. It does take time and patience and understanding, but in the end, you will both be a lot happier.

pet problems solved

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29 Problem-Solving Pet Products That'll Save The Day When You've Tried Everything Else

Because you're running out of ways to hide the pet stains on your carpet.

Melanie Aman

BuzzFeed Staff

1. An immunity-boosting allergy supplement if your doggo needs some sweet, sweet relief from itchy hot spots. These soft chews deliver a dose of probiotics and other nutrients to improve immune function, aide digestion, promote healthy skin, and add shine to a dog's coat.

Reviewer before and after photo of a dog missing patches of fur and the same dog with a sleek coat with no bald patches after using the supplement

Promising review: "I never write reviews but this one deserves it. My dog was compulsively licking herself and losing her hair. I had tried multiple other brands before Zesty Paws and none of them helped at all. Took her to the vet and after several hundred dollars of testing they had no idea what it could be. They didn't feel allergies could be THAT bad in a dog but all bloodwork and testing came back perfect. They told me to just keep watching her and hoped as the seasons changed so would the problem if it actually was allergies. Three seasons later and nothing had changed, it was actually getting worse. Finally tried these and WOW! She's been on these for a month and her hair is coming back and she isn't licking herself at all now. The first product to actually help! As others have said it does take a few weeks for a change to be noticeable, but when that change happens you won't be disappointed. Would definitely recommend when all else has failed!! Will be keeping her on these long term." — hgb

Get 90 chews from Amazon for $19.97+ (available in three styles).

2. A grooming rake that'll loosen fur, lighten your dog's undercoat, and prevent future mats. This brush is specifically designed for pooches with thick, dense fur or double coats.

Reviewer photo of a golden retriever sitting next to a big pile of fur that was removed with the rake

Promising review:  "I have a German shepherd affectionately known as a German 'Shedder.' All I do is chase this dog around the house with my Dyson, especially the two times a year she blows her coat. I had no expectations when I ordered the undercoat rake as nothing else has worked besides a spring shave, which looks ridiculous. By reading the other reviews I utilized short strokes, one area at a time and literally the fur was flying.  It's the first time I really felt like I could successfully get to and eliminate the undercoat shedding.  So much was coming off of her a neighbor walking by expressed her displeasure with the flying fur! I've used it several days in a row now and despite the fact she's not a fan of standing still that long I think it is fantastic." — MollsMav

Get it from Amazon for  $14.95+  (available in eight colors).

3. A liquid tartar remover for dogs who desperately need their teeth cleaned but who also won't let you near them with a toothbrush. (Think of it as doggy mouthwash!) Just add this to their water and you'll notice your dog's plaque and bad breath subside.

Reviewer photo of their dog's yellow teeth

Promising review: "I have four dogs. My biggest dog has the worst bad breath. I've tried treats and other things but nothing else has worked. Looking at alternatives, I came across dog mouthwash. The idea of drinking mouthwash is weird, but be my guest to teach your dog to swish and spit out. I've also bought Nylabone toys for my dogs and know they make great products. I've been using this mouth wash for all four of the dogs, and I have to say there has been quite an improvement in their breath and tarter buildup on their teeth . I put two capfuls in about 32 ounces of water and the dogs gulp it down; they seem to enjoy the taste as well . So about two months in, I have a little less than a half bottle to go and the dogs' breath is much better, especially my big dog ." — DH

Get it from Amazon for $5.77+ (available in three sizes).

4. Or an easy-to-use dental powder you sprinkle in your pet's food to protect their teeth from plaque and to ward off bad breath. Each sprinkle is packed with probiotics and nutrients like zinc, taurine, cranberry powder, and vegetable fats to support gum health.

Before photo of a dog's yellow tooth and inflamed gum

Promising review: "My smaller dog unfortunately has pretty bad breath (not your typical dog breath, much worse). Brushing her teeth regularly helps somewhat alleviate the problem, as do dental foams and rinses, but nothing has worked as noticeably as this powder . She has no issues eating it (although, she'd eat anything) and it lasts a while considering that she only goes through one teaspoon a day . I would definitely recommend giving it a try if nothing else is working and medical reasons have been ruled out." — DG

Get it from Amazon for $20.91 .

5. A bottle of Burt's Bees dander-reducing spray so your cat's coat is soft, shiny, and free of dander and flakes. It's made with aloe vera and oatmeal to condition dry skin and reduce redness.

Reviewer's before and after showing the spray got rid of their cat's dander

Promising review: "My old kitty girl has suffered from dandruff for a long time and nothing I've given her has helped until now . She recently started pulling her fur out in tufts to the point of bald spots and I knew I had to try this. One application brought her immediate relief and she hasn't pulled her fur out ever since, which tells me her skin irritation problem is gone. Her coat is soft and looks great and her dander is nearly gone. We both are very happy with this product!" — MADuran

Get it from Amazon for $10.96 .

6. A pack of stain-removing pads because owning a pet = a lot of messes. And these pads can handle 'em! Pee? Check! Poop? Check! Vomit? Check! (You can even use them to clean up your wine spills.)

Reviewer photo of their dog's accident on a white carpet

Promising review: "A GIFT FROM HEAVEN!! We have three dogs who sometimes have accidents. We’ve tried EVERYTHING — steam cleaning, sprays, you name it. Nothing has worked...UNTIL NOW!! I open the package above the stain and pour the extra solution on the stain before I stomp the pad down. I leave the pad for several hours (not quite 24 hours) and the stains are GONE !!  I’ll using nothing else after these!!! " — Miko Furusushi

Get a pack of 20 from Amazon for $27.49 .

7. A pack of matatabi chew sticks if your cat doesn't give a lick about catnip. Matatabi is a plant native to Japan and a catnip alternative. Plus, the stick format helps keep their teeth clean.

cat chewing on the stick

Meowy Janes is a wonderfully named small business based in New Egypt, New Jersey. It specializes in catnip and catnip alternatives.

BuzzFeed editor  Chelsea Stuart   loves  these...or...her cats do!

"I recently tried some of these out with my cats and they were a hit! TBH they've never really been super into catnip — they'll play with it but they don't go wild — so I was excited to see they were into these. They bat them around, rub their faces all over them, and ultimately, when they're done, hide them under a chair or in their cat condo so they can come back to them later."

Promising review:  "Only thing my cats respond to. I grow the best catnip according to other people with cats but, my girls couldn't care less. I bought this and I didn't even have the chance to take one out of the bag before they were all over it." — hogiegur

Get 7–9 sticks (depending on thickness) from Amazon for  $11.21 .

8. A mounted brush that'll satisfy your cat's ceaseless demands for scritches. Just mount it to a corner with the included adhesive strips and watch as your beloved babies leave you for the warm embrace of this gray-and-white piece of plastic.

Reviewer photo of their cat happily rubbing its face on the brush

Promising review: "None of my cats like to play with toys and it was driving me nuts! They have so much energy but would get bored with any toy within days. I tried rotating them and interactive toys, anything and everything for hours and at different times. There is nothing that has kept my cats busy like these grooming tools! I have literally never seen any of them sit and mess with something for more than a few minutes but my cats will rub on this for like 20 minutes at a time. 100% worth the money!" — Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $7.19 .

9. A hair-removing glove for curbing your dog's shedding as well as satisfying his endless desire for some rubbies. It's great if your dog or cat goes running at the sight of a brush.

The grooming glove with silicone nodules, full of hair held in front of a French bulldog

Promising review:  "Awesome pet hair remover! I have a Korat mix cat with short hair that's impossible to groom with a brush. I've tried all kinds of combs and brushes and nothing has worked well on him. I took this out of the package, I showed it to him and let him sniff it and then pet him with it. This thing is awesome! With just a few strokes I removed a ton of cat hair. I highly recommend this for hard-to-groom cats." — LB in the OC

Get it from Amazon for  $7.99 .

10. An interactive cat toy to quickly replace the bin full of other playthings you've bought your kitty over the years...and that they now won't even look at.

Reviewer photo of their cat standing on its hind legs to grab the toy

Promising review: "Simply the best cat toy you can buy. My cats go wild as soon as I pull this out. Nothing else gets them up and moving like this toy now that they’re getting older. Seems silly that they love a simple wire with a cardboard tip, but there’s something about it that’s irresistible. Buy it. Your cats will love it." — Amazon customer

Get it from Amazon for $3.90 .

11. An adorable and basically tear-resistant stuffed duck so you can stop spending money on toys that your furry destroyer shreds in approximately 10 seconds. This lil' yellow duck doesn't look like it, but it's built to last.

Reviewer photo of their puppy sleeping with the stuffed yellow duck

Promising review: "My dog Hazel LOVES this duck! She has had it for nine months now, and it’s still intact! It somehow made it through her teething as a puppy. She rips and tears apart all of her toys, but this one still looks decent! " — Emily Ann

Get it from Amazon for $7.90 .

Check out my colleague's Multipet yellow duck toy review for more deets and some adorable photos of her pup and his quacker.

12. A creamy paw butter because your pet deserves a little spoiling. This balm moisturizes dry, cracked paws and snoots and is safe if licked or swallowed.

Reviewer before and after showing the butter moisturized their dog's dry paw

Promising review: "I love this paw butter. For so long my Aussie had the driest, most cracked paws. I would cry and stress out because nothing worked. I tried shea butter and coconut oil but it wasn’t enough so one night I ended up buying this paw butter and tried it on my dog. First off it smells amazing — so good that my Aussie licks his paws for an hour after applying the product, so I had to put regular baby socks on his paws to stop him from licking. I'm almost done with the product and my dog's paws have improved enormously. He no longer has super-dried-up, cracked paws. They are soft and pink how a dog's paws should be!  I love this products. It saved my dog's paws and I use it every other day, sometimes twice a day. Life saver!" — Juliet Betancourt

Get it from Amazon for $9.99 .

13. A pet hair remover if you love your fur baby but hate how much they shed...on everything. Roll it over your couch, bed, favorite blanket, you name it, and watch it lift the fur away. See, we can own nice things!!

Reviewer photo of a black pillow covered in white dog hair and you can clearly see which side they brushed with the fur remover because all the dog hair is gone in that section

Promising review: "This thing is aahhhh-mazing! I’ve had several kinds of cat hair removers — adhesive strips, sticky rollers, rubber nubby gloves.  Nothing else works as well and as quickly. Easy to clean out, too. I bought one handheld and a bigger one on a long handle for carpet and area rugs. Love them! They even clean the hair off the stupid red velvet drapes that came with the house when we bought it." — M. Bauer

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+  (available in two colors).

14. A set of mini combs that'll gently detangle the fur around their eyes that's been crusted with eye boogers. This stainless steel brush delicately picks out the goop so you don't have to touch it yourself.

Reviewer holding the comb showing the eye boogers it removed

Promising review: "I have a goldendoodle who had very weepy eyes as a pup due to a blocked tear duct. These combs have been lifesavers! When I first got Jane, I struggled to keep her eyes clean of exudate. I tried tear removers, I tried soaking the area with a wet cloth, I tried wet cotton balls — you name it, I tried it and nothing would work to remove the stains or exudate. These little suckers though.....these things work!! At first they were difficult to use because as a puppy, Jane wasn't used to having me 'pick' around her eyes with combs. Once she became comfortable though (and it took a couple weeks of daily practice) and once I became comfortable and confident I wasn't going to poke her eyes out, cleaning her eyes became easy! She no longer has copious amounts of sticky exudate stuck on her face, there is no smelly eyes and I am happy to report that her tear stains are all gone since I'm able to keep her eyes so clean now. I use these a couple times a week on her and now she just sits while I clean around her eyes. She is comfortable and these have never caused her any pain or discomfort. Great tool and must have for anyone with fur babies!" — Kimberly V.

Get it from Amazon for $5.85 .

15. A nail grinder for trimming your pup's claws so you can cuddle without getting scratches all over your legs and arms. It's super quiet and smooth, which is ideal for dogs who get spooked by regular nail clippers.

Before photo of a dog's overgrown nails and an after photo of the same dog with nails that are neatly trimmed

Promising review: "We have a zoo: two Boston terriers that hate getting their nails done and two kitties. So far we have done the puppers; there is some sound, but it is quiet. The device came charged and has a very convenient and easy cord to recharge it. This product is great for maintenance and I am so glad I found this and came across this item. The kitties are next, just have to get them to sit still for a few minutes, which is a chore. If you have a chill fur baby, this is totally for you. If your pups are a little more anxious, it will take a little time for them to get use to it, but it is quiet and  nothing like other products that I have had, where the minute you turn on they going running . I have turned this on a few times right up next to them and they just don't care — this is a HUGE lifesaver. I would completely recommend this product." — Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+  (available in six colors).

16. Or a  nail file board  to keep their claws from becoming overgrown. This is like an emery board for your dog and is great for pups who cannot handle clippers or grinders.

Dog rubbing its nails on a pink board

ScratchPad is a small biz based in Atlanta.

Promising review: "Love this scratch pad! We adopted our dog almost a year ago and he's been terrified of clippers and grinders since day one. We've never been able to maintain his nails due to his super reactive anxiety around nail care. That's all changed since we got the ScratchPad a few weeks ago! He took to it right away and his nails have shown significant improvement in just a few sessions! " — Kira Armajani

Get it from ScratchPad  on Etsy for $46.95+ (available in four styles and three grit levels).

17. A cat litter deodorizer so you don't have to clean the litter box every single day to prevent the smell from taking over your home.

Hand sprinkling the product into a litter box

Rocco & Roxie is a family-owned small business named after the Magleby family's pets Rocco, a labradoodle, and Roxie, a former shelter tabby cat. They make a variety of pet supplies, including cleaners, treats, grooming tools, accessories, and toys.

Promising review: "Having had cats my entire life, I have tried probably everything on the market that claims to eliminate cat litter smell and  nothing ever has done what this does . I have a male and female cat and I cannot smell litter after using this. No smell! It’s amazing!" — Meghan

Get it from Amazon for $11.97 .

18. And a bag of premium clumping litter because scooping the litter box and having the clumps break into a dozen pieces while releasing a pee- and ammonia-scented cloud is your biggest frustration with your current litter. Ding ding ding! This winning litter will prevent that problem. Plus reviewers say the odor control is fantastic.

Reviewer's cat in their litter box

Promising review: "We adopted three perfect little kittens from a local shelter. The day we took them home, the shelter told us they had been using this litter and gave me a bunch of coupons. We had always used a different litter for our cats but we decided we would try it because we had so many coupons for it. That was almost a year and a half ago, the coupons are long gone and we are still using this litter. We love it and the cats love it. The odor control is better than any litter we have tried. You would never even think we have three cats. The litter is the most 'dust free' I have found. It doesn't track as much as other litters. It clumps so well. I can't say enough good things about this litter and I definitely won't be changing to anything else." — Cara V.

Get a 40-pound bag from Amazon for $20.99 .

19. An automatic water fountain if your picky cat needs encouragement to stay hydrated. Some cats hate drinking still water (long story short, it's a defense mechanism), so a fountain with running water may be more enticing.

Cat dipping its paw in the fountain

It also comes with three replacement filters and a mat.

Promising review: "My cat for whatever reason loved to paw at her water bowl and lick the three droplets of water on her paw then repeat until the bowl was emptied and on my floor. I tried deeper bowls and keeping the water shallow, I've tried mats, tried raised bowls and nothing worked to stop her from making a mess. I was worried she wasn't keeping hydrated because I had to constantly give her more water knowing full well most of it would end up on the floor. This...this wonderful thing has not only put an end to messes but she's drinking so much more now!! ! It's the biggest relief and the best purchase I've gotten for her!" — Rebecca Rojas

Get it from Amazon for $22.13 (available in two colors).

20. A Bissell Little Green machine  that'll save your living room from looking and smelling like you're running a doggy daycare out of it. This portable upholstery and carpet cleaner cleans deeply, penetrating household fabrics and even car interiors to erase any sign of your pet's accidents.

a tan suede recliner covered in dark black stains

Promising review: "If you have pets and carpet, this is a MUST OWN THING !!! Moving from a house with hard flooring to a house with all carpet, our dogs and cats thought the new carpet was #thebestplacetopeeEVER! I went through bottles of urine remover, pet carpet spray, you name it, trying to get the pee out of the carpet. The smell. The stains. All of it. Nothing worked. So, I broke down and bought the Little Green. When it arrived, I spent an hour going over every pee stain...and now, my carpet is good as new ! I don't normally write Amazon reviews, but this one is so amazing, it warranted me writing something to convince someone else they had to have it. I can't say enough good things about it. BUY IT. You won't regret it. Bonus, I got a great upper arm workout pushing down to get the water all sucked up! Buy it, buy it, buy it! Why are you still reading? ADD TO CART. Seriously." — V. Michel

Get it from Amazon for $109.59 .

21. An ear treatment for cleaning your poor pet's ears of buildup and prevent inflammation and irritation. These ear drops are designed to protect against a variety of fungal and bacterial infections, like yeast and staph infections.

Reviewer's before and after showing the treatment cleared all the brown crustiness from their dog's ears

Promising review: "This is by far the best stuff on the market today. I have a Cavalier King Charles/cocker spaniel mix and every once in a while he will get an ear/yeast infection. Nothing else seemed to work until I tried this . I gave it to him three days in a row and it’s completely gone! I won’t even bother to try anything else besides Zymox now. Well worth the price and extremely fast shipping. Saves me about 50–60 bucks considering I don’t have to take him to the vet for this particular issue anymore. If you’re having the same issue then try Zymox first before taking your dog to the vet like I did twice before I found this stuff. Absolutely perfect product!" — FinnishFlash

Get it from Amazon for $23.79 .

22. A broom for pet hair to loosen the fur trapped in your carpet. It works just as well on wood and linoleum, with the rubber head working as a magnet to attract stray hairs. There's also a built-in squeegee for wiping up liquids or for cleaning glass. Plus, the handle extends from 36 to 60 inches so it can reach practically any mess.

Reviewer photo of their German shepherd sitting next to a massive pile of fur that the broom pulled out of the carpet

Promising review: "Nothing else would take pet hair off of my outdoor porch furniture cushions. This broom took it all off easily. One of the best brooms I have ever had for pet hair removal on floors and furniture. " — Kelli Thompson

Get it from Amazon for $12.98 .

Check out my colleague Emma Lord's Evrilholder FURemover broom review for more satisfying before and after photos!

23. A snout soother so your pup's snoot stays soft, moisturized, and oh-so boopable.

before photo of a boxer whose nose is dry and crusty

Promising review: "Our boxer had the crustiest, driest nose for years. Three different vets couldn't offer any solutions for years! We tried olive oil and other remedies, but nothing worked. After the first application, there was noticeable improvement. After a few days of treatment, our beloved boxer's nose is looking great and on the road to recovery. I'm so disappointed in our vets for not knowing this product. If you are a vet, you NEED to recommend this product and stock it at your office. It is a miracle worker! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this product and finally able to kiss my baby on the nose again." — M Keady

Get it from Amazon for $5.95 .

24. A waterless cat bath because as much as we love our fur babies, sometimes they truly smell like that pile of vomit on the sidewalk I avoided last Friday night. This leave-in foam can moisturize their skin and leave it squeaky clean.

Reviewer photo of their black cat with wet fur after using the cleanser

Promising review: "A beautiful female stray adopted us a few years ago. Against my husbands wishes we brought her in our home and she is now a loving part of our family. Since she is indoor/outdoor (she loves her outdoor time still — we hate it!) she gets stinky. Usually I wash her down with a cloth. But this last time she had an odor that was just horrid. You literally could smell her across the room. We tried a few things and nothing worked. Ordered this foam and I am not going to say she 'liked it' but she did smell better. She is extremely particular about where you can touch and where you can't, so having myself and my daughters rubbing her with foam wasn't her best experience! Using this is going to be her only bathing options from now on. Would definitely recommend!" — Lisa Valentino

Get it from Amazon for $9.09 .

25. A purring cat toy if your kitty is suffering from anxiety. This purple guy has a built-in purring mechanism so your feline can enjoy the sensation of curling up to another purring "cat." It also plays calming, comforting sounds.

Reviewer photo of their cat snuggling with the toy

Promising review: "My cat used to WAIL in the car all the way to the vet. I tried crating her, not crating her, letting her ride in my lap, nothing helped . On a whim I googled solutions and came across this. Tried it and IT WORKS!!!! She was quiet the whole way. I put her in a small crate with her cat bed, put it in the front passenger seat, put this toy right next to the crate door. I had to leave the toy outside because it times out after a minute or two and you have to keep squeezing it. But it worked like a charm! I suggest introducing your cat to it before the car ride so it’s not new and scary. But the sound is very soothing. Even the ladies at the vet commented it would put them to sleep! " — Jde19630

Get it from Amazon for $11.99 .

26. A Wobble Wag Giggle ball with an internal noisemaker and six pockets that'll engage your pet's natural curiosity and having them rolling, fetching, and shaking it until they're panting.

A very happy white, brown, and black dog sitting on grass with the ball in front of him

Promising review: "WE FOUND IT! A play ball that can stand up to our 14-week-old part black Lab, part shark. We have tried several toys that would stand up to the extremely sharp teeth. Nothing has worked for over 15 minutes of intensive play time. We heard about this ball from a fellow puppy owner and ordered immediately. Added bonus: She is exhausted after chasing this thing around, so naptime comes quickly. " — james Bennett

Get it from Amazon for $14.97+  (available in three styles).

27. A cleansing wrinkle cream for squishy-faced breeds — like Frenchies, bulldogs, and pugs — which have a tendency to develop tear stains and infections in their skin folds. Long-haired breeds can also benefit from a good cleaning every now and then.

before photo of a white bulldog with dark brown skin folds and an after photo of the same dog after its folds have been cleaned

Promising review: "This cream is the miracle worker. My 2-year-old English bulldog had yeast in his wrinkles. I cleaned every day with hydrogen peroxide but it didn't clear it up. It just kept it from getting worse. Then I used a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and apple cider vinegar but nothing. I also used the products from the Natural Dog Company but my bully hated the smell. One night I came across this product. I was desperate and decided to give it a try. Within 24 hours of using Squishface I noticed a huge difference. Within 48 hours it was almost gone. By 72 hours it had cleared up. I clean his face before bed and apply the cream. I only use once a day and that was enough for us. I can't say my bully loves it because seriously what bully likes having their wrinkles cleaned? He tolerates it and I love that it worked for us. It has no smell to it, it's natural, and it WORKS!" — KS92

Get it from Amazon for $18.70 .

28. An odor-eliminating spray for lifting stains and odors fast. Each spray releases bacteria that feeds on the ammonia left behind after your pet's accidents, eliminating the urine completely and deterring your pet from peeing in the same spot again.

The spray

Promising review: "I love EVERYTHING about this. Like every other reviewer, we've tried every other option we could find to get rid of urine stench and stains. Ours were from an elderly dog who couldn't make it through the night sometimes. Long story short, we have YEARS of urine stains that, after being 'cleaned,' continued to reappear. Now every single recurring stain on our carpet is GONE! Not a single one has returned. I don't have sufficient words for how truly thankful we are for this product. It's like NOTHING else. And the cherry on top is the wonderful scent when you first apply it and NO scent once it's done it's job. So, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for these amazing products." — Anita McCarty

Get it from Amazon for $19.97 .

29. A touchless stationary vacuum to make cleaning the pile of fur your dog sheds each week easy peasy lemon squeezy. Bending over and sweeping everything into a dust pan only for half of it to not make it into the pan and for the other half to erupt into a dirt cloud that makes you cough? That's a no from me, dawg.

Promising review:  "I have an autoimmune disorder that causes reoccurring massive hair fall out. I decided to put one in our master bath to make cleaning easier. It does the job and has made life a bit easier and a whole lot cleaner. I may add another for our kitchen. We also have a miniature golden doodle. And this vacuum works so much better than trying to manage the hair with a robo-vac type tool that ends up with hair wrapped around its brush ." — Rebecca O

Get it from Amazon for $199 (available in three colors).

These products saving the day when nothing else works:

The reviews for this post have been edited for length and clarity.  

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The Lean Post / Articles / Change Your “Pet” Problem Solving Method

Change Your “Pet” Problem Solving Method

Problem Solving

Change Your “Pet” Problem Solving Method

By Art Smalley

May 20, 2019

Got problems with your problem-solving method? This interview by LEI's Chet Marchwinski with Four Types of Problems author Art Smalley shares advice on how you can "change your 'pet' problem-solving method."

Some business problems require a quick reaction to “stop the bleeding” while others require creativity or more analytical approaches to reach better target states or attain breakthrough results.

No matter the problem, it probably will fall into one of the types in the helpful framework that author and veteran lean management practitioner Art Smalley introduced in his recent book, Four Types of Problems . The flexible framework helps leaders and teams apply the right problem-solving approach by recognizing the four problem types:

  • Troubleshooting : A reactive process of rapidly fixing abnormal conditions. (When a house is burning, extinguish the fire.)
  • Gap-from-standard: A structured problem-solving process that aims at the root cause. (Determine what caused the fire and how to prevent another.)
  • Target-state: Continuous improvement ( kaizen ) that goes beyond existing levels of performance. (Use superior building materials that are much less likely to lead to fires in the first place.)
  • Open-ended and Innovation: Unrestricted pursuit through creativity of a vision or ideal condition that entails radical improvements. (Ask why not have systems that detect, prevent, or immediately stop fires from occurring right away?)

In this interview, Art reflects on why we make the mistake of reaching for the same problem-solving technique over and over, how the framework helps us talk about problem solving , and why troubleshooting is so important. Finally, he offers examples of different types of problems when he gets locked out of his hotel room by a faulty lock.

Q: Why is it, and this is an insight in the book, when faced with a problem many business leaders or team members reach mechanically for an A3 or kata or six sigma or the eight types?

Art: What behavioral psychologists tell me is that two things influence how you tend to learn, teach, and problem-solve. Number one is whatever framework you learned first, that is going to put a pretty dominant brand on your brain and how you choose to look at things.

The other way of looking at it, though, is how you like to learn, teach, coach, problem-solve. Do you go more towards concrete things? Do you go more towards abstract things? Do you go more towards people? Do you more go towards numbers? Do you go more towards reflection? Do you go more towards actively learning by doing?

All those are good things, which are part of problem solving, but you will have a bias. We can put you on a radar plot in a quadrant. I can predict with about a dozen questions and people’s responses what quadrant they’ll end in.

People that love to reflect and think hard about ideas and using a numbers approach tend to prefer six sigma . If they learn six sigma first and their preference is for six sigma, they’re going to dogmatically adhere to that in many cases. By the way, it’s a great approach for a lot of specific types of problems. I minored in math and had a specialty in statistics, so I got a bias in that direction. I did process control and capability studies on crankshafts, so I’m comfortable in that field.

I also know that it’s not the best way to talk to people because there’s also a quadrant of people who are more interested in people and objects and doing things, not numbers. Statistics turns them off. They’re feeling-based. They’re emotion-based. They’re 3G — go and see, get the facts, grasp the situation. They must grasp it with their hands, not the data.

Those people like to learn by doing and have an implementation-based approach to problem solving. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a big part of problem solving at Toyota. We talk about learning by doing, but again, if that’s your only way of approaching problems, you’ll suffer; you won’t be able to reach some of the audience.

There are other quadrants such as the converger quadrant if you like plan-do-check-act ( PDCA ) or kata . You’ve got to make a cycle and spin it and you solve that. You think that solves every problem, and for you it does.

The opposite quadrant for that is the big thinking, open-end strategy group which says, “Well, you’re just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic while your business model fails. You’re Nero fiddling while Rome burns, so to speak. You’re not even working on the right problem in that quadrant. Think about the big picture in the strategy.”

The point of the framework is not that any one of those is right or wrong. It’s like situational leadership. Depending upon the task, the person, the problem you’re working with, you might have to alter your pet framework to have the most effective dialogue.

Any approach can work , but it takes more effort sometimes. [LEI Senior Advisor] John Shook and I wanted to come up with a framework where you can flexibly shift gears, look at problems from different points of view, and come up with the most effective way to interact with people and approach the process.

Q: You make that point. This is really a framework, a way to talk with people and solve problems.

Art: Yes, and to frame things. If you don’t have a framework that is flexible enough to handle a multitude of situations, then it does feel like you get stuck; one approach for all problems, which may or may not be right for that problem. And it may or not be effective with the learning style of the person you’re interacting with.

Q: Now, one of the problem types is type one, which is troubleshooting. You don’t hear a lot about it, but you emphasize its importance, and this is not just firefighting.

Art: There are bad firefighting and bad troubleshooting, and there’s good troubleshooting. In Toyota, I think it’s underrepresented how good we are at daily troubleshooting. The math is really simple. There are 10,000 andon cord pulls in a 24-hour period during a launch. You cannot do 10,000 A3 reports.

You cannot have 10,000 sessions where we sit down and do a coaching kata routine in a day. You cannot do six sigma-style process control studies in a 24-hour window. It’s not possible. Toyota doesn’t do that. What we do is triage. There are those little things we want to handle at the frontline through team member, team leader , or group leader interaction.

Not all of those go to type two status. Not all of them have a really hard root cause, but it’s coaching the training. It’s coaching the standardized work . It’s debugging something that’s slightly wrong.

We all do it. You can be the purist and say, “I never do that. I only coach type two.” But guess what? When your internet router at home is not working, what do you do? You turn that sucker on and off, don’t you? You get your internet connectivity working again okay because it fixes it in a minute and you don’t know what the root cause of the problem is.

Q: You travel a lot. I’m sure a lot of people watching travel a lot. Now you just had an example of problem-solving types here at the hotel.

Art: Again, you can say which of the four approaches is best for the situation, the task, and the person I’m facing, but you can also take the view that any problem can be viewed through four different lenses, for example. Most people who have traveled or checked into a hotel can relate to this.

I was given my card the first night I checked in and went up to try and get in my room. I was on the 11th floor. Guess what? The card key didn’t work. I’m tired, it’s the end of a long travel day, got my suitcase and my backpack. I’ve got to go back to the elevator, go back downstairs, where a lot of people are checking in. I stand in line. I wait. I finally get to the desk and, of course, the initial response is, “Oh, you demagnetized your card.”

Q: Of course. Your fault

Art: The five “who” maybe. It happens. That’s why they give you that quick response. I go up upstairs again. Card doesn’t work the second time either. I come back downstairs, “Look, gang, it isn’t working.” They say, “Oh, I’m so sorry; apologize for that. We’ll send maintenance.”

Well, I go upstairs, wait for maintenance. They come with a special device. They check the lock on the door, and it’s not working. “Oh sir, this is broken. I’m sorry. We need to get a new battery for you.” He gets the battery, comes back in. I’m standing waiting. He puts the battery in. Lo and behold, it works. It was a bad sequence of troubleshooting.

The next night it happens again. So there’s something wrong with the door. This time they did good troubleshooting. They sent the maintenance person immediately back up with me. In five minutes, I was in the room, and they replaced the mechanical portion of the door lock as well, which was sticking.

Maybe that’s what caused the battery to run down because the lock had too much friction? So now we’re getting closer to a type two problem here, but any problem can be looked at through multiple lenses. We troubleshoot it first. Maybe they found the root cause of why the mechanical assembly was misaligned or improperly installed. We’re still not sure that’s the root cause, to be honest with you, but it didn’t seem to work the next period.

They have apps where you can check into your room without a keycard now. That may be a better way of going for a future-state solution, but it still doesn’t solve the battery problem or the misalignment of a mechanical thing on the door.

It’s a good type three. The million-dollar question is, and I don’t have the answer, but what’s the type-four solution for this? How can I get into my room, 100 percent reliably — facial recognition, bio-scan, a lock that always works?

Q: Solar power lock or something.

Art: We don’t have the type-four solution figured out for this yet, but maybe there’s something better, magnets instead of mechanical locks. I don’t know, but that’s my point. You can take any problem, any one problem if you want, and look at it through four lenses.

Problem Definition Practice

Improve your ability to break down problems into their specific, actionable parts.

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About Art Smalley

Art is the author of the LEI workbook Creating Level Pull: a lean production-system improvement guide for production control, operations, and engineering professionals, which received a 2005 Shingo Research Award. He was inducted into the Shingo Prize Academy in 2006. Art learned about lean manufacturing while living, studying, and working in Japan…

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Clue: Pet problem?

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