How to Outsmart a Dog or Cat

December 18, 2013

By Linda Cole

Over the years, I’ve had plenty of conversations with non-pet owners telling me why dogs and cats aren’t intelligent. I’d love to know where they get their facts from, because there have been many times I’ve racked my brain trying to outsmart a pet. We may be smarter, but there are times when a pet’s intelligence – or their persistence – presents us with a challenge.

The Window Screen Incident

I love the smells of spring, and when nighttime temperatures stay in the upper 60’s, I leave my screened windows open day and night. It’s not clear why my cat Bailey waged war on my bedroom window screens, but it quickly became a challenge to stop her. Bailey is persistent like any feline, but she takes it to a whole new level. She had already destroyed one screen in the middle of the night. I caught her as she was going through it, and begrudgingly closed the bedroom window. I opened the other window since an inspection of the screen found no holes or defects. Problem solved? Nope! Bailey started in on that screen. So I closed the window just enough to keep her out, or so I thought. She managed to squeeze in behind it and got trapped between the window and screen.

Accepting the challenge of outsmarting my cat, I was determined that this window was going to stay open, and she wasn’t going to destroy it. However, she got around all of my fixes. I finally built a barrier out of wood and wire that sat in front of the screen, and was confident I had won. Yeah, in my dreams! She could climb on top of the barrier and slip behind it, which left her pushed up against the screen. I added a block of wood on top of the barrier to stop her from climbing over it, but she found a gap to wiggle through. An old slipper wedged in the gap finally did the trick!

The Dryer Hose

Sadie was a curious kitty who discovered how to disconnect the dryer hose from the back of the dryer. She knew it led to the outside vent, which was too small for her to get through, but that didn’t stop her from trying. I had no idea what she’d been up to until I found her hanging from the vent on the outside of the house, trapped when she tried to squeeze through the too small opening. My first fix was duct tape, which didn’t hold up to her claws. She met the challenge of removing double connectors holding the hose to the dryer, and a barrier that blocked access to the back of the dryer was soon toppled. An extra long hose, string and a hook to hang the hose on the wall was perfect for Sadie;  it was easier for her to slice through it. After replacing the hose for the umpteenth time, a homemade door finally stymied her fascination with the dryer hose.

Money Stealing Dog

My mom’s dog Heidi was an American Eskimo who loved the smell of paper money. We learned about her “borrowing” obsession one Christmas Eve during supper at my grandparent’s house. Heidi always stayed by Mom’s side, but was missing on that particular night. We found her in the living room going through a wallet she had dug out of my sister’s purse. Money was scattered on the floor. She had already emptied mine and Mom’s. Purses weren’t safe on a table because she could jump up to rifle through them to find the wallet. She didn’t chew the bills, just collected them. The solution we came up with was to hang our purses on a hook, but if we forgot to mention it to a visitor, their wallet was definitely at risk.

Fence, what Fence?

My dog Sophie was as agile as a cat. As far as she was concerned, the dog pen was there to amuse her. A broken wire made it easy to squeeze through. No stupid fence would stop her from climbing over it! And digging – pfftt – she could dig under the fence in record time. My dog pen has cement blocks and garden tiles around the perimeter, patched holes and other fixes that failed to keep her inside the fence. Instead of running off, however, she came to the front door, barked and waited for me to open the door. I decided it was in my best interest to reward her with CANIDAE Snap-Bits treats so she would continue coming to the door instead of running off on an adventure since it was obvious she out foxed me.

Pets are very smart, and when you add persistence and tenacity, that’s all they need to present us with a challenge. What solutions have you had to come up with to outsmart a cat or dog?

Top photo by Guru Snow Studios
Middle photo by John Lawlor
Bottom photo by Sadie Hart

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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