By Arden Moore
Arguably, our pets rank as our most priceless asset, but they can also take a big bite out of our wallets. In fact, you may need to sit and stay as I reveal a startling economic epidemic.
In a recent national survey performed by Square Trade, a top-rated protection plan company, pets have destroyed more than 8 million smartphones, iPads, laptops, television remotes and other cherished electronic devices — setting back pet parents a whopping $8 billion in replacement costs.
And you thought losing a left shoe or a sofa cushion to a chew-happy puppy was frustrating.
In fact, I recently polled my Facebook followers about these high-tech pet hijinks. Sandy Storrie reported the demise of two smartphones at the “huge mouth” of her chew-happy service-pup-in-training named Muddy. Amy Shojai’s first German shepherd chewed three TV remotes before his first birthday. Angela Badu’s great Dane named Louie is guilty of stashing three iPhones into his crate and “killing” them by sitting on them. Sandra Gilbert has lost count of the number of charging cables bitten in half by her kittens, who apparently mistake those dangling cords for mice tails. This is only a small sample of far-too-many tales.
To save our pricey electronic possessions and maintain harmony (and safety) in our pet households, we must first examine what is provoking these actions by our pets.
Dogs, cats and other pets investigate their surroundings by sniffing, pawing, chewing and, yes, sometimes, making urinary deposits on chosen objects. This “p-mail” is a pet’s way of saying to others, “Hey, this is mine. Back off.”
Next, we must factor in the the unshakeable love and devotion our pets direct toward us. Many constantly download what matters to us. They see us tote cellphones, iPads and laptops from room to room. They notice how focused we are when type messages on Facebook or other social media venues. So, if they can’t be in our laps or next to us, they turn to objects emitting our scents in a strong way.
Yep, these objects tend to be our electronic gadgets. In our pets’ mind, these items must be checked out. They do so by biting them, tail swatting them off coffee tables, pawing them off countertops and marking them with urine or drool (or, ugh, both).
Recently, Square Trade asked me to conduct a national satellite media tour to offer tips to counter this costly epidemic. With my background in pet behavior and pet first aid safety, I present this threefold strategy that will save you money, keep your pets safe and protect your pricey devices:
1. Banish boredom in your pets by providing them with daily mental and physical exercise outlets. Provide them with safe chew toys, or battery-operated toy mice that make erratic movements. Engage your pets by playing interactive games with them.
2. Tuck power cords inside chew-proof tubing or spray the cords with bitter apple, minty breath spray or even pickle juice. Most pets detest these scents.
Get into the habit of always stashing your pricey devices out of paw’s reach — inside drawers, cabinets and never on coffee tables, on your bed, kitchen counters or inside open purses left on the floor. Never charge devices in outlets easy for pets to reach.
3. Invest in an affordable protection plan for your devices. Accidents do happen. I’m eligible for an upgrade for my smartphone and after doing the math, discovered the $99 two-year protection plan offered by Square Trade costs less than the plan being offered by my phone provider. That gives me peace of mind, especially since I have dropped my phone twice into a filled, large pet water bowl.
Resist texting or talking on your cell phone when you’re taking your dog for a walk or a hike. If your dog spots a squirrel or other temptation, he will yank on the leash and possibly cause you to be off-balance and drop that cellphone out of your hand and right on the concrete sidewalk.
I keep my cellphone in a rubberized case with a sturdy clip that fastens to the waistline of my pants when I walk Chipper and Cleo. I have the phone in case of an emergency, but during the walk, I strive to live in the moment and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells with them on our daily walks.
Share your worst pet-vs.-tech story with me at Arden@fourleggedlife.com. The “best of the worst” tale will win an autographed copy of my latest book, What Dogs Want. Be sure to include any photos as well.
Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the popular Oh Behave! show on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.