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39 Perfect Pet Projects to Show Your Pet Some Love

If you're a pet lover, this collection of projects and tips is for you! Check out these clever and unusual ideas about how to make your pet happier, healthier and more comfortable, using items you'll find around the house.

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Ant-Proof Pet Food DishesFamily Handyman

Ant-Proof Pet Food Dishes

In the summertime, a favorite destination for ants is often a pet’s food bowl. Here’s a simple way to keep them out of your dog or cat’s food: Set the dish in a pan of water.

Not only does it keep the ants out of the pet food, but your pet can take a gulp of water from the pan whenever he or she needs a drink. Keep the rest of your home clear of ants, too.

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Remove Pet Hair with Duct TapeFamily Handyman

Remove Pet Hair with Duct Tape

That’s right. We’ve found another use for duct tape—cleaning. The stickiness of duct tape 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 works great for getting into corners. 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.

Plus: Kitchen Cleaning Checklist: 11 Tips for a Clean Kitchen

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Petnet SmartFeederCourtesy of Petnet

Petnet SmartFeeder

The SmartFeeder stores up to 7 lbs. of food. And once you schedule mealtime through the app, it automatically distributes portions based on your pet’s age, weight, food type and activity level. The free app offers insights on your pet’s nutritional habits and sends notifications informing you when your pet was fed and how much, plus warnings when the food is running low. You can even order food when you’re running low via Petnet’s delivery service. $149; Find one on Amazon, too!

Photo: Courtesy of Petnet

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Protect Your Doors from ScratchesFamily 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 Plexiglas or plastic at any home center. Cut the Plexiglas so it fits just inside the door jambs and is 1 ft. higher than the reach of your dog. Most home centers will cut the Plexiglas for you, but you can also cut it with a utility knife and a straightedge. (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.) Mount the Plexiglas to the door with 3/4-in. roundhead wood screws. Here’s how to remove scratches from your glass doors and windows.

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Rainy-Day DoghouseFamily Handyman

Rainy-Day Doghouse

Use a plastic storage bin for a dog house. A nice little doghouse that will hold up in the rain can cost $100. But you can make your own for a fraction of the price using a plastic storage bin. 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 $85! Don’t be surprised if your cat likes it so much you’ll have to make DIY furniture for them too.

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Petzi Treat-Dispensing CameraCourtesy Merchant

Petzi Treat-Dispensing Camera

Even from afar, you can check in on your pet and give ’em a treat with this digital treat dispenser, great for the anxious dog who doesn’t like being home alone. The Petzi Treat Launcher will dispense a snack for them, and the integrated camera and audio allows you to see their looks of surprise when you pop in to say hi.

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Aluminum Foil Couch SaverFamily Handyman

Aluminum Foil Couch Saver

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 and they’ll immediately jump off. Here are more ideas to keep your cat off of the kitchen countertop.

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Pet Repellent for FurnitureFamily Handyman

Pet Repellent for Furniture

To train your pets to stay off furniture, place plastic carpet protectors—prickly side up—on their favorite perch. Available in office supply stores and the carpet/flooring department of home centers, the protectors can be cut to the size you need with a scissors or a utility knife. The plastic teeth will train your pet to associate the couch with ‘uncomfortable.’ Soon they will seek cozier spots to relax on and leave the easy chair to you. Just remember to remove the protector before you sit down.

Plus: Secret Cleaning Tips From the Pros

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Chew-Free Electrical CordsFamily Handyman

Chew-Free Electrical Cords

Some dogs love to gnaw on electrical cords around the house. This is not only dangerous but also really irritating when they destroy your computer cables. Solve the problem by wrapping the cords with split flexible plastic conduit that you get at home centers and automotive stores. Just cut the length you need and push the cords into the pre-split slot. Your dog will soon lose interest in the cords (so you have time to fix them). Now if you could just get him to stop chewing up your slippers!

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A Fast Way to Remove Pet HairFamily Handyman

A Fast Way to Remove Pet Hair

If you have a shedding pet, StickySheets can make cleaning up after it a lot easier. Just peel off the backing, press the sheet against the furniture, then pull it up. The hair sticks to the sheet, but the 24 x 36-in. sheets won’t stick to each other, making application easier. The sheets can be reused up to three times.

The manufacturer claims that Americans spend more than 200 million hours cleaning up more than 25,000 tons of pet hair each year. If that’s true, then StickySheets can save a lot of time.

Plus: How to Make Your Furniture Last Longer

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Private DiningFamily Handyman

Private Dining

Does your dog eat your cat’s food? Put a stop to the double-dipping by moving your cat’s dish into a different room that has a door. Attach adhesive-backed hook-and-loop fasteners to the back of the door and to the front of the trim. After filling the cat’s dish, hook up the fasteners so the door only opens 5 in. Now your cat can come and go and eat his meal in peace. If Fido is itchin’ to get in, you may have some other work to do, too.

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Portable Water DishFamily Handyman

Portable Water Dish

Use a shower cap as a portable water bowl. A long walk with your dog on a hot day will make you and your pet pretty thirsty. Before leaving the house, stuff a plastic shower cap in your pocket. That way, you can give your dog a drink from any handy tap, drinking fountain or your water bottle whenever he or she needs a slurp.

Learn tricks for keeping your cat off of the kitchen counter.

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Mask Pet Claw ScratchesFamily 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.

Plus: Best Car Cleaning Tips and Tricks

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Wind-Proof Dog DishesFamily Handyman

Wind-Proof Dog Dishes

How many times have you gone outside to fill your dog’s food or water dish only to find that it’s blown halfway across the yard? The really heavy pet dishes are expensive, but here’s a cheap dog dish that won’t blow away. Fill a plastic ice cream bucket with a couple of inches of sand, and then put a second container the same size inside it. Use the inside bucket as your dog’s dish and it’ll stay right where you put it. Next step: Build a chain link kennel for your dog.

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Quick Cleanup Cat LitterFamily Handyman

Quick Cleanup Cat Litter

Cut your litter cleanup time in half with this nifty trick. Line your litter pan with a plastic kitchen garbage bag before adding the litter. Get the best household cleaning supplies and products here.

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Don't Brush the Dog ? Use a Vacuum Instead!Family Handyman

Don’t Brush the Dog, Use a Vacuum Instead!

Instead of brushing your pet and then cleaning up the fur with a vacuum, use the vacuum with an upholstery attachment to brush the dog. The vacuum sucks up all the loose fur so you don’t spend any extra time cleaning.

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Neat and Tidy Pet Food DispenserFamily Handyman

Neat and Tidy Pet Food Dispenser

Build this bin and you can fill the dog dish with the flick of a finger and do away with that crumpled bag of dog food lying on the garage floor. This bin easily holds two 20-lb. bags of food and allows you to dispense it right into the dish. And you can store two types of food so the cat won’t get jealous.

Slide open the ‘blast gate’ and food falls into the dish. A hinged top allows easy refilling. Get the instructions to make your own pet food dispenser.

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Bell Training for DogsFamily Handyman

Bell Training for Dogs

Help your dog ‘talk’ to you with bells. Here’s an easy way your dog can let you know she needs to go outside without any barking or scratching at the door. Hang some bells from the doorknob and your dog will quickly learn to associate the sound of the bells with the door opening. Soon she’ll nudge them herself. You can speed things along by jiggling the bells and saying ‘Outside? Wanna go outside?’ for a few days every time your dog goes out. Your dog will be able to ‘talk’ to you about going outside even when you’re somewhere else in the house.

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Easier Bath TimeFamily Handyman

Easier Bath Time

For a calmer and easier bath time, make a dog washing station in your shower. Cover the drain with a hair catcher to prevent fur from clogging it. Cut a hole in a bath mat so it fits over the drain and lay it in the shower to prevent your dog from slipping around. Using a handheld sprayer gives you more control and lets you avoid spraying water into your pet’s ears. Everyone involved will find bath day a whole lot more pleasant. Here’s how to make your own dog washing station.

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Paint Tray BirdbathFamily Handyman

Paint Tray Birdbath

Many pet birds love to take baths. Next bath time, try using a new plastic paint tray as a bathtub! The ribs on the bottom of the tray provide traction, and the tray’s slope allow your pets to wade in the shallow water until they’re ready to move into the deep end. Paint trays are cheap and easy to clean, and they also make great turtle pools (but don’t tell your birds).

Learn how to build a modern birdhouse for your backyard.

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Tikr Toy

This toy was designed to keep dogs active and engaged, while giving them a little encouragement in the form of treats. The toy, which you fill with treats of various sizes before playtime, is powered on an analog timer. For up to 45 minutes the inner chamber rotates and the treats fall out as the holes align. $29.95; Pick one up at Amazon today.

Photo: courtesy of SBARK

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No-Barking ZoneFamily Handyman

No-Barking Zone

Does your dog’s barking in the car drive you nuts? Try this trick: Every time your dog barks, close the windows (watch his or her head). She’ll quickly learn that barking means no fresh air and no slobbery tongue flapping in the breeze. After a few car rides, you’ll both be driving around in blissful silence.

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Dog-Spot Lawn SolutionsFamily Handyman

Dog-Spot Lawn Solutions

Growing a neat lawn in an area frequented by dogs is difficult but not impossible. Here are a few tricks for keeping the grass green.

  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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Dart Laser Cat ToyCourtesy of PetSafe

Dart Laser Cat Toy

You’ll be as mesmerized as your cat with this automatically rotating laser toy. The 360-degree laser randomly changes patterns; four speeds and four timer settings make for hours of exercise and entertainment for your furry friend. $39.99; Check out the PetSafe Dart cat toy at Amazon.

Photo: Courtesy of PetSafe

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Bunny Rabbit A/CFamily Handyman

Bunny Rabbit A/C

Hot summer days are tough on bunnies. Here’s a great way to recycle plastic water bottles and keep your bunnies cool at the same time. Fill the bottles with water, freeze them solid and then set them out in the rabbit hutches. The bunnies love to laze against the bottles as the ice thaws. This works great with puppies, too.

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Fur Filter for Dog BathingFamily Handyman

Fur Filter for Dog Bathing

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. If your drain is already clogged, here’s how to clear a clogged drain.

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Train ‘n Praise Potty Training System

This tool is bound to make pet owner’s lives easier, by integrating a treat dispenser into the absorbent potty training pad. When moisture is detected, an internal sensor system wirelessly sends an electronic signal to the treat dispenser. Your floor stays clean and dry, and young pups learn quickly through positive reinforcement. $134.99; Grab one on Amazon as well.

If your pet has already had an accident, here are some carpet cleaning tips for pet owners.

Photo: Courtesy of PetSafe

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Tip-Proof Watering DishFamily Handyman

Tip-Proof Watering Dish

Some dogs can’t grasp the idea that you don’t have to climb into the water dish to take a drink. So rather than refilling their dishes 10 times a day, make a tip-proof watering dish out of an old Bundt cake pan. An old Bundt cake pan is just another of the 100 things you should never throw out.

Drive a stake through the hole in the middle of the pan. Now your dog will have to find some other source of amusement.

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Enzymes Eliminate Pet Stains and OdorsFamily Handyman

Enzymes Eliminate Pet Stains and Odors

Enzyme products are easy to use on pet stains—just spray or blot them on the stain according to the directions. The products contain harmless bacteria that ‘eat’ the organic matter that causes the odor. When the organic matter is gone, the bacteria run out of food and die. The whole process will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some manufacturers recommend covering the area with plastic or a wet cloth to keep the bacteria moist and healthy. Get rid of other bad smells in the house.

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Most pet owners know that it can be hard to leave their pet at home alone during the day. PlayDate is attempting to solve this problem by integrating a camera in a toy ball, so you can play with your cat or dog remotely via a mobile app while having a unique–and adorable–vantage point.PlayDate debuted on crowdfunding site Indigogo and reached 592 percent of its goal. It will be available for purchase later this year. Sign up for updates here.

Photo: Courtesy of PlayDate

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Ideas for Clean BirdbathsFamily Handyman

Ideas for Clean Birdbaths

Keep the birds happy! To clean your birdbath, put two cups of vinegar in the bath and fill it to the brim with water. Cover with a trash-can lid, and let the bath soak over night. Scrub and rinse well. To attract butterflies to your birdbath and avoid algae, put a layer of builder’s sand in the bottom of the birdbath. Add a pantyhose leg stuffed with oat straw inside to your water for an algae-free birdbath.

Photo: Leroy (Skip) Downum

Check out how to clean a birdbath here.

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Low-Fat Dog TreatsFamily Handyman

Low-Fat Dog Treats

Is your dog getting a little chubby? Try replacing his high-calorie treats with plain rice cakes. Even if you think they’re tasteless, dogs go nuts over them and vets often suggest them as a lower fat (and less expensive) substitute for regular dog treats.

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iFetchCourtesy of iFetch


Encourage playtime with an automatic ball launcher, perfect for small- to medium-size dogs. The ball will shoot out at distances of either 10, 20 or 30 feet when manually loaded into the funnel. $115; Pick one up on Amazon for your best friend.

Photo: Courtesy of iFetch

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The Big-Dog DinerFamily Handyman

The Big-Dog Diner

If you have a pretty big dog, and hate seeing him or her strain their neck every time they eats from his bowl, you can buy a pair of elevated dog bowls for $20 to $40 at pet stores. But you can make your own out of a couple of cheap 2-gallon plastic buckets from a discount store. Just flip them upside down, cut holes in the bottoms with a jigsaw and set a couple of 2-qt. stainless steel bowls into the openings.

Check out more Handy Hints.

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Never scoop a litter box again with this game-changing design. The Litter-Robot senses when your cat enters and exits the box. A timer counts down after he or she leaves, and after allowing time for the litter to clump, a Clean cycle begins. The globe will slowly rotate, sifting and separating the contents before dropping the waste into a carbon-filtered drawer below. For a single-cat household, you only need to empty the drawer once every 7 to 10 days. $449; Find a Litter-Robot on Amazon.

Photo: Courtesy of Litter-Robot

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Eliminate Pet SmellsFamily Handyman

Eliminate Pet Smells

Every once in awhile pets get into something they shouldn’t and lumber inside bringing a nasty smell with them. One way to get rid of those bad smells is AtmosKlear. It can be spritzed directly on the pet!

AtmosKlear has no smell of its own. It doesn’t leave your room (or pet) smelling like flowers, cinnamon or incense. What the odorless formula does is eliminate, not cover up, smells. The formula is an oxidizer. It must contact the odor source in order to work. From pets to tobacco to general household odors to smelly carpet in your car, this stuff works great. It’s biodegradable, nontoxic and, according to the manufacturer, creates no problems for people sensitive to chemical air fresheners.

Bonus tip: Spritz AtmosKlear onto your furnace filter and turn on the furnace fan. You’ll freshen the whole house.

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DIY Dog HousePhoto: Courtesy of Corey Hosick

DIY Dog House

Hands down one of the best DIY dog houses we’ve ever seen was designed and built by Family Handyman reader Corey Hosick. Complete with running water, electricity and automatic feeder, this is home sweet home for Corey’s two German Shepherds Lexi-loo and Ranger-roo.

See the full build details in this article. But be warned: After reading about Corey’s project, you’ll be chomping at the bit to get started on one of your own!

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Digital Doggie Door

Other than alleviating the fear of intruders, this digital doggie door has plenty of smart uses. If your pet is wearing the SmartKey on his collar and tries to go through the door, radio-frequency technology reads the collar’s unique signal and unlocks the flap. It automatically locks back into place when your pet’s SmartKey is out of range. This means, depending on what pet is given a SmartKey, you can let your dog go out while keeping the cat inside, give your cat access to the litter box while keeping the dog out, or any other number of scenarios unique to your home. From $94.99 and available online at Amazon.

Photo: Courtesy of PetSafe

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dog ramp

Modular Pet Ramp

Reader Doug Swanson has two lucky dachshunds. He built this custom ramp with window seating and a safety railing so they can look out the window despite one of the pet’s back issues. The ramp also features built-in storage cabinets and casters, so it can be moved easily when it’s time to vacuum the floor. Check out more awesome reader projects here.

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