How to Outsmart Your Pet

December 10, 2010 | By | Comments (0)

Let’s start with a definition:

-verb (used with object)
1. to get the better of (someone); outwit.
From Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary © Random House, Inc. 2010.

I’m not a fan of playing games, but when it comes to my dog’s health, sometimes I have to resort to a trick or two of my own. Case in point: he was under the weather and needed to take a pill. I’ve learned from past experience just how crafty he can be at eating everything but the pill, in spite of my most valiant efforts. I direct your attention to Exhibit A, where I concocted something I have termed “dog sushi.” As you can see, it’s an elaborate mixture of wet w/d dog food, chicken, and rice (the non-dog food components are bland, good for upset tummies). I kid you not — he ate every last morsel and left behind the pill. Foiled again!

Exhibit A: My “Dog Sushi” Invention


What was I to do? I decided to try out a product I’d heard about called “pill pockets.” And it worked beautifully, not once, not twice, but every time he had to take a pill. Perhaps it was the beef flavor? Or the Play-Doh-like consistency which allows one to mold and shape the treat into a delectable ball so that the overpowering scent masks the medicine inside? Ladies and gentlemen, I direct you to Exhibit B, the powerful pill pocket, photographed by me to look heroic, perched at the center of a colorful cutting board from The Museum of Modern Art.

Exhibit B: Pill Pocket


I decided to find out what fellow pet owners resort to when trying to outsmart their pets. Here, a sampling of the choicest morsels they had to share:

CAT TIP: “He doesn’t like me to clip his nails, so I’ve learned to use two separate actions: one to get the clipper out and then another to get him next to the clipper. There has to be a space of time in between.”
— Lucy L.

DOG TIP: “I closed my eyes tightly when the sun came up and they gave me another hour before the morning walk.”
— Maureen K.

DOG TIP: “Given that our dog gets upset when he sees our luggage out of the closet as we prepare for a trip (that he is sadly) not going on, we tend to do our final packing in the guest room and then on the day of our departure, we slip our luggage into the back service hallway so that he does not see us leave through the front door with our bags in tow.”
— Abigail and Ludmil P.

CAT TIP: “He was a big cat, built like a football player, powerful and crafty. I’m small and could never outmaneuver him, so when we had to return to the city from the country, I had to get him into the car, which he didn’t like. He was 15 pounds of pure muscle and I might as well have been carrying Mike Tyson. He wriggled out of my arms like Houdini and he was gone, vanishing somewhere on to the property. He might as well have disappeared into Grand Central. Well, I finally outsmarted him. I rattled a small portion of his beloved hard food in a plastic container so loudly that he could hear it anywhere. He quickly came trotting out of the bushes, I grabbed him, held on for dear life, delivered him into the car, and with a treat of his food, thank heavens we could be on our way.”
— Lynn G.

DOG TIP: “A coworker of mine tricks her dog into doing her business fast by putting out a bowl of cat food (her dog’s favorite). Then, as her dog smells the food, she puts on her dog’s leash, and takes her out. Her dog doesn’t waste time, and gets down to business pronto, and then hightails it back home to the food.”
— Wendy H.

Two different takes, from a wife and husband:

DOG TIP: “Sometimes she does not like to eat her breakfast. In order to get her to eat, I get down on all fours and stick my head in her bowl, pretending to eat her food. Works like a charm. Within minutes, all that remains is an empty bowl.”
— Lisa S.

DOG TIP: “She hides under the bed. To get her to come out, we head to the front door and say, “Lucy, Mommy and Daddy are leaving.” This only works 20 percent of the time. So sometimes we close the bedroom door so she thinks she will be locked in the room away from her food and water…after 5 minutes with the door closed, she will come scratch the door to get out of the room. This works 50 percent of the time. If all else fails (30 percent of the time), we use the vacuum under the bed which causes her to come running out.”
— Gregg S.

Exhibit C: Operation Success (= nearly empty dog bowl)


Pets Outsmarting Us?

And then there’s my brother’s cat, who learned all too quickly not to fall for the old trick of treats hidden away in the pet carrier.

This same cat has learned to pretend to eat a pill, then two minutes later, proudly spit it out, as if channeling a French wine taster. With this cat, the tables are turned.

Come to think of it, Monkey has sometimes done the same, hiding the pill in his jowl so that I can cherish at least a fleeting victory. But he’s never pulled this stunt with the pill pocket…at least, not yet.