13 Best Tips and Tricks for Pet Owners

Updated: Apr. 02, 2024

Keep your pet happy and well-fed, prevent annoying behaviors and repair common household damage with these tips and tricks.

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puppy using a diy Puppy Slow Feeder made out of pvc in a kitchen
Family Handyman

Puppy Slow Feeder

My puppy was eating his food too fast and vomiting it right back up. Instead of buying a slow-feed bowl, I drilled holes in a 12-inch length of 2-in. PVC pipe and capped the ends. Then I filled the tube with puppy food.

My puppy has to roll it around to get the food to fall out of the holes. That slows him down and avoids the mess. Be sure the holes are large enough for the food to come out! – Charlie May.

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diy Pet Water Raft with pool noodles
Family Handyman

Create a Pet Water Raft

Ahoy there, mateys! Just tie these pool noodles together for a fun water raft that won’t deflate! You’ll need five large pool noodles (4-1/2-in.-dia.), two medium-sized noodles (2-1/4-in.-dia.), six feet of 1/2-in. PVC pipe and 36 feet of nylon cord.

To begin, lash the five large noodles together using a double half-hitch knot. Next, lace the cord in between and around each of the noodles, securing them together into a raft. When you get to the noodle on the end, turn around and lace them again back to the beginning. End with another double half-hitch knot. Cut the cord close to the knot.

Now cut the smaller noodles to get three lengths equal to the width of the raft. Thread three PVC pipes through the holes in the three smaller noodles, then thread the cord through the PVC and use nylon cord to attach each short noodle to the large noodles. Tie one noodle at each end and one in the middle to increase stability and make the raft more rigid.

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Build a PVC Fish House

This DIYer used a cut piece of PVC pipe to add to the fish tank. If your fish tank is large enough, try connecting some PVC pipe to make tunnels and “homes” for your fish.

Courtesy of bluepenguine12 via Reddit.

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hand using a cut milk jug as a dog food scoop. dog sits near by waiting for food.
Family Handyman

Make a Milk Jug Scoop For Pet Food

For this scoop, we reused an empty half-gallon milk jug and angled the cut so the side opposite the handle is slightly longer.

  1. Draw your cut line on the milk jug.
  2. Use sharp scissors to cut on the line.
  3. Trim or sand off any rough or sharp edges.

This scoop can also be used as a funnel by simply removing the milk jug cap.

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anonymous person pouring pet food into a metal trash can
Family Handyman

Close Off Pet Food

Store pet food in a lidded metal trash can, since mice cannot climb the slick, vertical sides. Sealed plastic containers are also a good option.

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person using a paint roller with duct tape to remove pet hair from a small rug
Family Handyman

Remove Pet Hair with Duct Tape

That’s right. We’ve found another use for duct tape — cleaning. The stickiness makes it perfect for a makeshift pet hair remover, and this method is faster than vacuuming. It also works on seats in vehicles. A sponge or cloth wrapped with duct tape gets into corners really well.

Wrap duct tape around a paint roller cover, sticky side out. Roll the paint cover over furniture or carpet to pick up the pet hair. Add more tape as the surface gets full of hair.

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Protect Door From Scratches
Family Handyman

Protect Your Doors from Scratches

Protect your doors from your dog’s claws with a sheet of plastic.

Buy 1/8-in. or thinner acrylic sheet or plastic at any home center. Cut the sheet so it fits just inside the door jambs and is one foot higher than the reach of your dog.

If you have a large dog and need plastic above the doorknob, use a 3-in. hole saw to make a cutout for the knob. Most home centers will cut acrylic sheet for you, but you can do it yourself with a utility knife and a straightedge. Mount the plastic to the door with 3/4-in. roundhead wood screws.

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Storage Bin Doghouse on a deck
Family Handyman

Build a Dog House From a Storage Bin

Use a plastic storage bin for a dog house. A nice little dog house that will hold up in the rain can cost $100. But you can make one from a plastic storage bin for a fraction of the price.

Cut a small hole in the bin, flip it over on its lid and stick a dog bed inside it. Your dog will love watching the rain from inside his snug little house, and you’ll save money!

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cat jumping off a leather couch lined with aluminum foil
Family Handyman

Use Aluminum Foil to Keep Cats off Furniture

Keep your cats off the couch with aluminum foil. Tear off a piece of foil long enough to cover the top of your couch and set it on the cushions. The feel and sound of the foil drives cats nuts — they’ll immediately jump off. Here are a few tips for keeping your dog off the couch.

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Mask Pet Claw Scratches on wood
Family Handyman

Mask Pet Claw Scratches

Mask shallow claw marks and scratches in wood doors with stain and varnish. Gel stains work well for matching the existing finish. Here’s how to easily repair pet claw marks.

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A brown spot of dead grass on a green grass lawn caused by excessive nitrogen in dog urine
Teamjackson/Getty Images

Fix Dog Spots On Your Lawn

Growing a neat lawn in an area frequented by dogs is difficult but not impossible.

  1. Apply lime or gypsum regularly to neutralize the acid in the soil.
  2. Water the area heavily each week to dilute the urine.
  3. Don’t fight it! Replace the grass with small round gravel (pea rock) bordered with stone cobbles or brick. Place landscape fabric beneath the rock to prevent weeds from popping up. And another plus? Less grass to mow!
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Filter Fur When Washing Your Dog in a shower
Family Handyman

Filter Fur When You Bathe Your Dog

If you wash your dog in the bathtub or shower, you’re begging for a clogged drain. Keep fur out of the drain with a mesh-type scrubbing pad.

In a shower, clip the pad to the drain plate with a bobby pin. In a bathtub, wedge two pads under the stopper from two sides. The pads catch fur but let water flow through.

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DIY PVC Dog Waste Collector
Family Handyman

Keep Your Dog’s Waste Out of Sight

My dogs and I have an arrangement. They poop; I pick it up. But rather than make daily trips to the trash can, I built this poop pipe.

It’s just a large piece of four-inch PVC drainpipe sunk into the ground a foot or so, with a trash bag lining it and a cap sitting loosely on top. A rubber band holds the bag in place, and the cap keeps odors at bay. When it’s time to empty the bag, I take it to the trash bin and put a new one in the drainpipe. — reader Kelley Griswold.