The key to a good pet-owner relationship is understanding your dog or cat and their preferences as best you can. Learning animal body language is a vital step, but it can’t hurt to have a few handy pet tricks up your sleeve. After doing lots of reading, research and training of our own, here are four unlikely tips that could help as you work to create a great friendship with your pet. 

 
Earn trust by looking away – A finicky cat, or a hesitant dog, will shy away from direct eye contact, as it can be intimidating, especially when initiated by a stranger. Give the pet time to approach you on their own before meeting their gaze to avoid being seen as “rude” by a cat or a threat by a dog.
 
Discouraging potty training errors – Rather than pointing your dog’s nose into that pee spot on the carpet and scolding them, you can prevent a repeat incident by making sure you remove the smell completely from your rug. After soaking up the spot (a squeegee works too), a dusting of baking soda or a rub with a baby wipe should do the trick.
 
New is not always better – When your cat’s scratching post starts to look ratty and worn, don’t jump too quickly to replace it. Cats enjoy a worn-in post more than something new, and may switch to valuable furniture to dig their claws into if you take that away. If the post does need refreshing, adding a few coils of rope can help provide a new scratching surface.  When you need to buy a new toy for your pet, think about making one at home from old fabrics and toys laying around the house.  This will help save money, and keep your pet occupied.
 
The difference between bribery and reward – Training with treats is an effective way to get your dog (or cat!) to learn tricks and positive behaviors. However, you want to reward your pet with affection, praise, games and petting in addition to the treats. This way, they learn to appreciate your attention along with the snack!
 
 
 
For more on these clever pet care and training tips, visit Petfinder, Dog Breed Info Center or ABC News on Dr Marty Becker’s “Your Cat: The Owner’s Manual.”