Trainers say these common dog & cat problems are actually easy to fix

Expert advice that’s easy to follow.

ByLauren Moison
Originally Published: 
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If you ever wish you had more control over what your cat or dog does, you’re not alone. No matter what I do, I can’t get my dog to walk nicely on a leash. So, I reached out to a few experts to see what they had to say about fixing the most common dog and cat problems, and the advice sounds promising. Sometimes, it’s as easy as offering a new toy or swapping out the training tools you’re using.

Below, you’ll find expert recommendations on how to get your pets to behave a little better, and all the products are backed by rave reviews on Amazon.


Use cardboard scratchers to redirect your cat’s claws

Molly DeVoss, certified feline training and behavior specialist and founder of Cat Behavior Solutions, tells Mic that scratching and clawing is a natural behavior for cats, especially in multi-cat homes. “Getting cats to scratch the items you want them to is the challenge,” DeVoss says. Luckily, these wavy cardboard scratchers can help redirect your cat’s habit thanks to their satisfying-to-scratch material, and the included catnip helps make these scratchers irresistible.

Dimensions: 16.5 x 7.9 x 1.2 inches


Let cats scratch & climb this tall post with fun toys attached

“You may have to try a few different types of scratching posts before you find one your cat likes,” DeVoss says, so your kitty may prefer this tall scratching post. The base and top are weighted for stability, and there are dangling toys to entice cats to play. Plus, it’s easy to assemble and comes in four netural colors.

Sizes: 34 inches, 22 inches | Colors: 4


Use these treats when training your cat to use a scratching post

When introducing a new scratching post, DeVoss suggests, “Hold a great treat like Vitakraft PurrSticks at the top of the scratcher to lure the cat to stand on his back legs and reach for it.” These individually packaged treat sticks are made with real meat and other tasty ingredients, have a tender texture that cats love, and can even be broken into bite-size pieces that are great for training.

Flavors: Chicken, chicken with salmon


Teach your dog not to pull on the leash with this adjustable harness

If you’re trying to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash, Smith suggests using "a harness with a double ended training leash,” which will give you more control and make it easier to stop if they pull. This no-pull harness features a sturdy, shock-absorbing bungee clip, reflective threads, and an adjustable size to give your dog a comfortable fit.

Sizes: Small — X-Large | Colors and patterns: 4


Encourage good behavior with these wildly popular cat treats

Another way to reward good behavior is with these yummy Churu cat treats in a variety of creamy flavors. They’ve earned a near-perfect rating from Amazon shoppers who rave about how much their cats enjoy them, with one fan writing, “This is the only kind of treat she will eat.” The half-ounce portions are great for hand-feeding or for squeezing over dry food and are made with ingredients such as wild-caught tuna or farm-raised chicken.

Flavors: Chicken, beef & cheese, chicken & seafood, tuna, tuna & seafood, tuna & chicken


Reduce barking with this fun flashing ball

If you’re looking to curb frequent barking, Marrs says “it helps to give your dog something else to focus on during moments of excitement” — and this flashing ball is sure to be an attention grabber. It features a motion-activated flashing light and 18 sounds to help distract and intrigue your pup. Plus, the durable exterior is resistant to chewing.

Sizes: Small — Large | Styles: 3


Keep the cat off your keyboard with this plexiglass cover

If you’re tired of your cat crawling all over your keyboard while you’re trying to work, Lusvardi suggests “getting a small platform that goes over your keyboard so your cat can still rest there, but you can type under it.” This clear plexiglass keyboard cover can hold over 40 pounds, providing a sturdy platform for your cat to walk on while leaving enough space underneath for you to continue typing.

Dimensions: 20 x 6.7 x 4 inches


Help prevent 3 a.m. wake-ups with an automatic pet feeder

“Cats are notoriously hangry in the wee hours of the morning,” DeVoss explains, so she recommends setting an automatic feeder to go off at 3 a.m. with small meals or treats. This feeder is easy to control with your smartphone and boasts a 3-liter capacity and easy-to-clean stainless steel bowl. And if your cat isn’t a fan of dry food, there’s an automatic feeder designed for moist food as well.

Colors: 4


Play with this colorful toy to help cats release pent-up energy

“While there are many complex reasons cats become aggressive to either humans, or other cats, pent-up energy is in the top reasons,” advises DeVoss. Give your cat a fun way to release that energy with this highly rated rainbow cat charmer that boasts a long, 4-foot tail for kitties to chase and pounce on. And according to reviewers, it’s just as much fun for you as it is for your cat.


Provide a treat puzzle to stimulate your cat’s instincts

DeVoss says treat puzzles are another way to keep your kitty entertained, and this challenging cat toy requires them to use scooping and problem-solving skills to retrieve treats or food from the cups. Each of the tubes is a different size for varying levels of difficulty, and the toy has nonslip base to keep it in place. It’s also easy to take apart and clean as needed.


Let cats chase & pounce with this moving laser toy

For another way to keep your cat active, use this laser toy that creates a fun moving target for them to try and capture. It mimics the unpredictable and quick movements of a mouse or bug, allows you to adjust the size of the play space, and has an auto shut-off after 15 minutes to prevent overstimulation and help conserve the batteries — you’ll need four AA, not included.


Use a dog crate when toilet training to help prevent accidents

When it comes to toilet training your dog, Ali Smith, CEO and founder of Rebarkable, says, "Don't do pee pads, train straight outside, and use a crate or a play pen to manage them within the home." This dog crate provides easy access with a swinging front door and has a removable plastic tray in the bottom that makes cleaning up accidents a breeze. It also folds for easy storage when not in use.

Sizes: 18 inches, 22 inches, 24 inches, 30 inches, 36 inches, 42 inches, 48 inches (some models have 2 doors)


Use an extra-long dog leash to help with off-leash training

If it’s off-leash training you’re after, consider using this extra-long training leash that’s designed to provide the feel of being off the leash without giving up complete control. It’s made of super durable nylon material and features a looped handle with reinforced stitching. Choose from five lengths to suit your training needs.

Sizes: 5, ranging from 15 to 100 feet | Styles: 3 | Colors: 2


Wear a dog treat pouch for easy access to rewards while training

Smith suggests rewarding your dog during leash training, and this dog treat pouch makes it easy to reach tasty morsels on the go. It has a drawstring opening in the top for easy access, two zippered pockets for poop bags and other necessities, and a metal clip in the back for attaching to your waistband or belt.

Sizes: Belt clip, waist belt, waist belt XL | Colors: 4


Switch to a high-sided litter box to help prevent messes

Laura Cassiday, a certified cat trainer and behavior consultant at Pawsitive Vibes, suggests a high-sided litter box “for cats who are high pee-ers and tend to stand in the box and pee over the side.” This litter pan features sides that are 9 inches tall to divert rogue sprays and has a smooth finish that’s resistant to odors.

Dimensions: 21.25 x 17.63 x 9 inches


Use this mat to help trap litter before it gets tracked through the house

If a cleaner litter box area is your goal, consider adding one of these water-resistant mats that help collect the litter from your cat’s paws before it gets tracked through your house. It’s made of soft mesh material, has a nonslip bottom, and comes in two different sizes to suit your space.

Sizes: 35 x 24 inches, 42 x 36 inches | Colors: 4


Give cats these meaty treat sticks that’ll satisfy their urge to chew

“For the cat who chews on wires (or anything else), give them something appropriate to chew on instead that they’ll love,” says Cassiday. This pack of 50 treat sticks feature a meaty texture that’s satisfying to chew and don’t contain any corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or colors. Plus, they come in a variety of flavors your cat is sure to savor.

Flavors: Salmon, chicken, tuna, variety pack


Reduce your dog’s separation anxiety with a distracting toy

If your dog gets destructive when you leave the house, Megan Marrs, a dog trainer and founder of K9 of Mine, says, “An inexpensive and effective way to reduce separation anxiety is through distraction toys, such as Kongs.” This super-durable dog toy is made of thick rubber and can be filled with peanut butter or treats for a fun activity while you’re away — no wonder it’s earned more than 78,000 Amazon reviews.

Sizes: X-Small — XX-Large


Give cats & dogs a distraction with these silicone licking mats

With four different textures to explore, these silicone licking mats are another fun, distracting activity that both cats and dogs can enjoy. Simply use the included spatula to spread your pet’s favorite soft food onto the mat or sprinkle some dry food into the crevices. The mats also have suction cup bottoms that stick to any smooth surface, and they’re dishwasher and freezer-safe.

Colors: 3


Redirect your dog’s focus with a long-lasting chew toy

A flavored chew toy can also redirect your dog’s focus, and this one is a fan-favorite on Amazon thanks to its long-lasting design. One shopper wrote, “I have 2 very big aggressive chewers and these bones are holding up so well.” The nylon wishbone is easy for dogs to hold onto, and it features real flavorings that don’t leave any residue or odors behind, according to reviewers.

Sizes: Small — Giant | Flavors: Bacon, chicken, peanut


Keep dogs entertained with this 20-pack of chew toys

If your dog likes variety during play time, keep them entertained with this 20-pack of toys that includes tug ropes, teethers, and treat toys for them to explore. Fill up their toy bucket all at once or stash them away and introduce a new toy each week for ongoing surprises. The set even includes three rolls of poop bags and a dispenser.


Avoid accidents in the house by training your dog to use this potty bell

Marrs notes that “providing puppies with frequent potty breaks will help reduce messes,” and this training bell gives your pet a way to communicate when they need to go outside. It features a large easy-press button on top and a nonslip rubber base to help keep it in place. Plus, there’s no installation required — just place it on any flat surface.

Colors: 6


Teach your dog the “leave it” command using a clicker

To teach your dog the “leave it” command, Sally Grottini, a dog behavior expert with JustAnswer, suggests you “invest in a clicker that goes around your wrist.” Used with a long lead, these clickers can help train your dog to stay with you instead of chasing after squirrels and cars. They’re lightweight, easy to use, and have elastic wristbands that can also be clipped onto your waistband.


Train dogs with these treats that smell irresistible

Grottini suggests using these Nudges dog treats for training thanks to their enticing smell that’ll get your dog’s attention. The jerky-style treats are made with real meat, don’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy, and are free from artificial preservatives. They’re also easy to tear into smaller pieces, making them great for longer training sessions.

Flavors: Chicken, chicken & duck, beef, steak | Sizes: 5 oz, 16 oz., 10 oz., 36 oz.


Reduce nipping with this bitter apple spray

Until your dog understands the “leave it” command, Grottini recommends using this bitter apple spray to get them to stop nipping you. Apply it to the areas your dog nips the most, like your hands or arms, and Grottini says, "Eventually the dog will think this is what you always taste and smell like and will lose interest in nipping." Plus, the formula won’t leave stains behind, according to the brand.


Try silvervine powder to encourage cats to use scratching posts

To encourage your cat to use their scratching post, Joey Lusvardi, a certified cat behavior consultant at Class Act Cats, suggests rubbing the post with silvervine powder. Similar to catnip, this plant contains natural oils that mimic a cat’s pheromones to help induce a playful or dreamy state. And silvervine is effective in nearly 80% of cats, according to the brand.


Slow down fast eaters with this challenging puzzle feeder

“Food puzzles are great as not only do they slow down your cat’s eating, but they offer mental stimulation so your cat won’t be bored,” says Lusvardi. “My favorite food puzzle is the Nina Ottosson Buggin’ Out Puzzle and Play.” It features 16 compartments with swiveling leaves and ladybugs, providing varying degrees of difficulty to keep cats engaged.


Provide cat grass for kitties that like to chew on plants & other items

“I like growing cat grass as it’s something that chewers can munch on,” says Lusvardi, adding that it’s a great way to keep them from chewing your houseplants, too. This grass-growing kit comes with everything you need, including GMO-free and organic grass seeds, soil, and a cute cat container. It may even help support your cat’s digestive health, according to the brand.


Give keyboard-obsessed cats a scratch laptop

Another option for keyboard-obsessed cats? Lusvardi suggests giving them “a more appealing spot to rest nearby,” such as their own faux laptop. This one features a cardboard scratching base, a cute little mouse toy, and a fake screen complete with an underwater screensaver. One reviewer reported, “Very effective. She loves it. Hasn’t sat on my laptop since I put it up.”

Dimensions: 13 x 10.6 x 8.9 inches


Place a cat bed near your desk to help prevent work interruptions

Lusvardi also suggests placing a cat bed near your desk so kitty has a more appealing place to rest. This cave bed is made of 100% New Zealand wool and has a warm yet breathable design that can collapse and pop right back into shape. It comes in lots of cool colors.

Sizes: Medium — Large | Colors: 13