35+ Tips To Make Caring For A Four-Legged Friend A Little Less Ruff

By Joyce S

Having a dog will completely transform your life. Puppies, especially, are a lot of work, but they also bring a lot of joy into your life. We’ll admit, dog ownership can get pretty expensive, but if you have the means, it’s definitely worth it in the end when you have a lovable pooch running around.

Although every dog is different, there are some basics of puppy training that every dog parent can benefit from. Whether they’re a shelter dog or from a breeder, there are plenty of tips and tricks to make caring for your pup easier, more enjoyable… and a bit cheaper, too.

If you’re getting a puppy for the first time or simply want a refresher, here are the basics of raising a happy, healthy dog.

A Kiddie Pool For Your Pooch

It’s crucial that your dog always has access to water throughout the hot summer months. If you want a place for your dog to chill in your backyard but don’t have enough room for a full doggy play area, a kiddie pool works nicely.

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Most dogs enjoy wading into the shallow water to cool themselves when it really gets hot out. Even dogs that hate getting a bath will splash around. This is a fantastic and inexpensive method to make your dog’s summer more enjoyable.

Carpet Deodorizer

No DIY experience is needed to make this carpet deodorizer. By combining baking soda and aromatic oils, you have an easy and inexpensive deodorizing powder. Once you’re done making it, just sprinkle it on your carpet like a store-bought cleaner.

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Keep in mind that baking soda acts as a leavening agent, so keep your pet out of the area until it dries or you vacuum it up so they don’t ingest too much of the mixture, which can be harmful when coupled with heat in their stomach.

No More Mess

Let’s face it, as cute as dogs may be, they can also be nasty at times. If you also have a cat, you might find your pup sniffing around the litter box too often. So, how do you prevent them from using it as a playground while giving your cat access to their bathroom?

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To keep them from vandalizing the litter box, limit their access to it. You can try putting it on a high shelf, out of their reach, if you have a tiny dog. For larger dogs, try placing the litter box in a more restricted area. 

Tug Toys

DIY dog toys are easy to make and don’t even require any new supplies. You can easily make a tug toy for your beloved friend with just two tees and some scissors. It’s great for an epic tug-of-war match or as a diversion to prevent your dog from thinking about the stinky garbage can.

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To make this, start by cutting your T-shirt into thin shreds. Grab a few t-shirt strips and tie the ends together to make a knot. You can either braid them or just tie more knots along the way. That’ll make it more durable when it’s playtime.

Cool Water Bowls

Doggie water bowls are an absolute necessity, but making sure it’s full can be a hassle. But with a little DIY magic, you can make an auto-fill water bowl your dog (or cat) will enjoy. Since dog bowls vary in size, precise measurements aren’t required for this tutorial.

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To start, get some plywood, a box cutter, a 2-liter soda bottle (clean), and some hot glue. Then, attach the soda bottle upside-down so the mouth is sitting halfway in the doggy dish. Cut a hole in the bottom of the bottle—that’s where you’ll fill the water “tank.”

Medicine Time: Pill Pockets

Pill pouches are a great way to take the stress out of giving your dog medicine. While you can find them at the store, they’re easy to make at home, and it only takes a few minutes. For this, you’ll need just three simple ingredients: milk, peanut butter, and oat flour.

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Important reminder: choose ingredients that are xylitol-free. The recipe for this is a simple 2:1:1 of flour, peanut butter, and milk, respectively. After that, roll them into small little balls. When it’s time for their medicine, just pop the pill in the center of the ball and give them a treat.

The Best Leash Hack: Front Clip Harness

This is a top-notch tip for puppy training, or for adult dogs that hate their leash. Get a harness with a front clip; you’ll have a better time guiding your dog. Rather than having a collar that pulls from one spot, the harness evenly distributes pressure.

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Leash attachment points are located in the middle of the dog’s chest. Having the leash attached here prevents your dog from running ahead of you because of the sideways pull. Although there is no actual pain, your furry friend will be in some degree of discomfort.

A Fur-Free Sofa

Dogs bring joy and happiness into our homes, but they may also do serious damage to your furniture—fur, and nails easily destroy to the fabric. You can use a dog sofa cover to add a little more protection to keep the sofa clean and intact.

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You can get a doggy couch cover, or simply use a fitted bed sheet. Couch coverings with reinforced sides give comfort as well as support to older and arthritic dogs, while plush ones provide extra reassurance for young animals who are prone to anxiety.

Dryer Sheets 

If you have a dog that sheds, you know how tough it can be to keep a clean house. While there are many specialized dog hair removal products, a simple dryer sheet will do the trick and take hair off furniture, clothing, and more.

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Dryer sheets work wonders on floors and furniture covered with pet hair. To clean a surface, simply lay a sheet across it and sweep it clean. You can do this by hand, or stick it on the bottom of a squeegee or Swiffer stick.

Walnut To Fix Scratched Furniture

If you have wood flooring or furniture, chances are you’ll find some scratches here and there. Don’t worry; you can easily touch those up using walnuts. Forget fancy touch-up pens; just crack a walnut in half. Then, rub the inside part along the scratch.

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The walnut oil fills the fissure and blends it with the surrounding wood. Essentially, it stains and expands the wood. Although it typically takes a few minutes, this technique does work fairly well. After around five minutes, the scratch was hardly noticeable.

Budget-Friendly Tip: Re-Stuffable Toys

All dogs love toys, but some have a knack for absolutely destroying them in just a few minutes. There’s something so appealing about ripping up the stuffing inside. To save money on constantly buying new plushies, get a re-stuffable toy.

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The stuffing in traditional dog toys is messy and can be dangerous for curious pups. Instead, get a re-stuffable toy and fill it with a treat. Fill it with peanut butter, and watch your dog spend hours trying to lick up every last drop.

Keep A Variety Of Toys

Dog toys aren’t only there to make a mess, though it feels like it sometimes. Such toys nurture their primal drives like hunting and foraging and promote healthy mental and physical development. Another plus is that they might be helpful in getting overweight dogs up and moving around, but they need some toy variation, too.

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In the same way that we humans do, dogs quickly tire of their new toys. Keep them interested by varying when you give them access. For example, if you re-introduce an old toy they haven’t seen in a while, you’ll find that your pup is much more enthusiastic about playing with it again.

Chasing Bubbles For Fun

Bubbles are one of the simplest ways to keep a dog entertained. You can simply stand in place and let the breeze carry their “ball.” And you don’t need to worry about hurting your fingers because your stubborn dog won’t “drop it.”

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Make sure you get dog-safe bubbles. They’ll delightedly munch on them, so you should make sure the bubbles are safe for them to eat. If your dog hasn’t ever seen bubbles before, try blowing a few to get them interested.

Easily Removing Stingers

Since they love playing outside, dogs are sometimes stung by bees. Usually, it’s not a big deal. However, just like some humans, some dogs have severe allergies to stings, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet after it’s been stung. 

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The poison in the stinger is the source of the problem, so you should remove the stinger as quickly and carefully as possible. To get the stinger out without breaking it, use anything stiff, like a credit card or fingernail, to scrape it off.

Puppy’s Grooming Routine

Many dogs don’t have dental care routines, but that’s not to say they shouldn’t have one. Plaque and tartar buildup can be reduced by at least half if you brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week. It’s best to start this routine when they’re still young.

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First, rub the outside of your dog’s teeth with your finger or a soft cloth. If your pet is restless or scared about the process, it may help to start by just rubbing the cloth along a few teeth the first few times you brush their teeth.

Winter Time: Vaseline To Protect Paws

Dog paws are meant for walking in the woods, but some still benefit from doggy boots. If you can’t get them to wear boots to protect their paws from freezing in the winter, try putting Vaseline or paw balm on their, well, paws.

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Apply the balm to your dog’s paws before you leave the house. The balm will keep snow, ice, and salt from getting between their toes while keeping their paw pads moisturized. Keep a towel by your door so you can easily wipe off their paws afterward.

Rubber Gloves Are Awesome

When pets shed, it’s their body’s natural way of getting rid of old, damaged hair. While we love that it means they have a healthy topcoat, we’re endlessly frustrated because that pesky pet hair stubbornly sticks to furniture upholstery. Fortunately, rubber gloves are excellent for picking off the pet hair.

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Moisten the gloves and carefully brush the fabric. Between the static they generate and the gloves’ rough surface, pet hair will come right off. You can remove the hair from the gloves by washing them in hot water. No more wasted lint rollers!

Magic Erasers

If you’re a happy pet owner of a dog that regularly slobbers, you know how hard it can be to keep up with that constant drool with just soap and water. But, using this advice, you’ll have an easier time cleaning up your dog’s drool.

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Forget the cloth; use a Magic Eraser. When dampened, it can be used to clean slobber off of almost any surface in your home. Cleaning laminate floors, stainless steel fridge doors, wooden baseboards, and plastic dog food containers will be a breeze.

Make a Pet Bed from a Sweatshirt

Pets enjoy their owners’ scent, especially clingy dogs. You can use this to your advantage with this DIY project. If you make a doggy bed out of one of your old sweaters, they’ll find comfort in both the soft fabric and your scent.

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This project is great since it is eco-friendly since, instead of tossing out your old sweater or hoodie, you’re reusing it. You don’t need any fancy equipment—a needle and thread will do. Though, admittedly, a sewing machine would make it go faster.

Their Own Digging Box

Dogs need ample opportunities to socialize, use their brains, and run around in an environment that is both safe and stimulating. Even if they have plenty of space to get out that energy, chances are your pup will find delight in digging up your garden.

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Digging is a natural instict, so getting them to stop completely can be hard. Instead, make a digging box for them to paw at. Just take a cardboard box, some dirt or scrap paper, and dog treats. Bury the treats at the bottom and let them dig away to their heart’s content.

Solving The Dry Food Issue

You may notice that your dog isn’t as enthusiastic about meals as they once were. Even if you switch around the brand and flavor of their food, they won’t eat it. One possible explanation is that they’re no longer interested in eating their dry dog food.

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Add warm water and leave the dry dog food to sit for a few minutes to soften it before feeding your pooch. You can also use wet dog food, yogurt, pureed veggies, or tuna to add additional flavor and nutrients.

Dog Slings

Just like humans, dogs can have mobility issues, especially when they’re older, or if they just had surgery. If they’re having trouble getting up the stairs or standing after a nap, you might need to step in and help them out a little. 

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To give them some assistance, you can use a doggy sling. This DIY project only requires a soft cloth, such as a cotton reusable grocery bag, and some scissors. This is no substitute for a vet check-up, especially if your dog has prolonged mobility issues.

Elevated Food Bowl: Pros and Cons

This one is, admittedly, a bit controversial. Some owners swear by raised dog bowls and say they help older dogs, particularly if they have arthritis or have trouble leaning down. Some also claim it helps reduce the mess you might find around their bowls.

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Although there are pre-built stands, you can make your own by propping up their bowl on a small container. But, as we said, some dog owners think this is unnecessary. If you’re not so sure about this hack, seek advice from a veterinarian to guide you.

A Squeegee 

We know squeegees come in handy in the shower, but did you know that they can be used elsewhere in the house, too? As we mentioned before, pet fur gets everywhere and can be difficult to clean up—without clogging your vacuum cleaner.

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Just run the squeegee along the fabric and watch the pet hair come off in one big clump. Toss it in the garbage, and then vacuum up what’s left. This method is not only handy, but it’s quieter—something your pet will enjoy.

Baby Wipe To Prevent Drain Clogging

Your pet might not like getting cleaned, but it’s necessary. Groomers can be expensive, so many people opt to bathe their dogs at home and only visit the groomers a few times a year. If you have a pet that sheds, you’ve probably noticed how easily their hair clogs the bath/shower drain.

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You can use a baby wipe to help catch any stray dog hairs before they go down the drain. Simply lay a baby wipe flat over the drain, then lay the plug over it, to keep the wipe from floating away. When you’re done, just throw away the wipe. Easy, right?

Ball and a Muffin Tin Make An Easy Puzzle Toy 

There are so many puzzle games on the market, but they can be pretty pricey. If you want to give your dog some stimulation, you can make your own puzzle board. It only takes a few supplies, which you probably already have at home.

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Take a clean muffin tray and put bits of dog food in the bottom of each hole. Then, cover them up with tennis balls. Now, let them sniff it and work out how to get out those yummy treats hiding under the balls.

Quality Time Playing Game of Tug 

Animals like dogs tend to be quite sociable. Playing tug is a fun way to bond with your dog. When they’re full of energy, they’re more than happy to play a game of tug, and this quality time will help improve your relationship.

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Just make sure that you don’t let tug-of-war get too out of hand. Use this time to work on commands like “drop it” or “release.” If they end up biting too much while playing, pause the game and pick it back up when they’ve calmed down.

Oral Hygiene and Playtime 

Any hygiene habit you want your four-legged friend to follow works best when introduced to their routine in their early years. If you adopt an adult dog, getting them to brush their teeth can seem like an impossible task. Instead of giving up, get creative.

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Buy dog toothpaste at your local pet store, but don’t brush their teeth for them. Apply the paste to their favorite rope or chewing toy. As they play, the toothpaste and the toy’s abrasive material will act as a toothbrush. Now you can promote good oral hygiene without risking your fingers.

Duct Tape For A Fur-Free Outfit

As you probably already know, dog hair doesn’t just get stuck to furniture. It gets on your clothes, too. If your pet sheds a lot, you’ve probably arrived at work more than a few times, wishing you had a lint roller on hand.

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Once again, we bring you a fresh and cheap hack to maintain a fur-free home. Keep a roll of packing or Scotch tape by your front door or in your car. They work just as well as lint rollers, albeit they’re much less expensive and don’t need to be replaced as often.

Stuffed Kongs For Playtime

Are you the kind of person that eats when they’re bored? Well, chances are your dog does, too. To keep them entertained, have some KONG toys stuffed with treats on hand. Since you don’t want to overfeed them, frozen treats are an excellent way to make snacktime last longer.

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KONG toys are great because they’re durable. Just stuff one with a treat, like watered-down peanut butter, and pop it in the freezer. So, the next time your dog needs something to chew on, just take the frozen treat out and let them enjoy their snack.

Fresh Food: Sealed Containers Are Must-Haves

How long your pet food lasts depends on how you store it. Dry pet food is particularly susceptible to spoilage from oxygen, humidity, light, and even pests. Therefore it is best to store it in a sealed container, and keep it in a cool, dark spot.

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It’s not only important to store the food in a well-sealed container, but you should take care to seal it well after every meal. If your dog’s food doesn’t come in a re-sealable container, don’t worry. You can just pick up a container from the pet store!

Training Fast Eaters: A Food Dispensing Toy Comes In Handy 

Some dogs take their time with their meals while others consume the whole bowl faster than the speed of light. This is a bit dangerous since they can choke, not to mention that it contradicts any other impulse control training you might be doing.

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If you’re having trouble getting them to slow down, try using a slow-feeder bowl. Your dog will still get to eat their whole meal, but it’ll just take them longer to do so. Plus, it’s a fun little challenge to keep them stimulated and entertained.

Flirt Poles

This is it, the fabled flirt pole for which you have waited so long. It’s a simple do-it-yourself toy. In addition to helping your dog with etiquette and controlling their impulses, it also offers them a great workout in a short amount of time.

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You can give them a mental and physical workout without even leaving your home. It’s great for teaching reactive dogs to control their impulses while also providing a fun opportunity to learn commands like wait, look, sit, down, take it, leave it, and drop it.

Fun Games

Dogs are known for many things, one of which is their keen nose. No matter the breed, your pup can smell something tasty or stinky—or both— from far away. You can use this ability to your advantage to make playtime more fun.

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Scent games are a great way for dogs to promote their natural curiosity and learn new things while also satisfying their need to sniff everything in sight. You can play games that require them to sniff out a tasty treat.

Summertime: Get Your Pup Frozen Treats

When we think of the summer, we think of hot, sticky days. We need something cold to drink to relieve the oppressive heat. While they might not appreciate a glass of lemonade, your dog will love getting a frozen treat to help them cool down. 

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These homemade dog treats are easy to prepare and are customizable according to your pup’s taste. You’ll need a blender, silicone containers, and a freezer. Fill the blender with water or broth, then add fruits for flavor. Finally, pop it in the freezer.

Preparing Easy Dog Treats

You can save money by making dog treats yourself, and it doesn’t require any skill or secret ingredient. There are tons of recipes online, most of which are pretty easy. Making dog treats at home is a breeze, and chances are you have all the ingredients in your cupboard right now.

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You only need peanut butter, bananas, and oats to prepare some tasty treats for your dog. Put the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. Lay them out and let them solidify. As a bonus, this is also a great way to use those overripe bananas you refuse to eat.

Healthy Training Treats

Some dog owners get caught up in the idea that you only need dog food and water to keep their pups fed and healthy. While it shouldn’t make up the bulk of their diet, your dog could benefit from eating some fruits and veggies.

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Moderation is key. Even healthy treats can upset your dog’s stomach if they eat too much of them, especially if they’re not used to them. Fruits already have a lot of sugar in them, so just give them a few tiny pieces at a time. 

Clean-Up Time: Baking Soda to Get Rid Of Urine

You probably already know that simply wiping up a potty training accident doesn’t work with just water. For an effective clean, mix one cup of pure white vinegar, one cup of water, and two teaspoons of baking soda in a clean spray bottle. Then, shake the solution and spray it on the pee spot.

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Alternatively, you can let the baking soda do all the hard work. Spread baking soda lightly and evenly over the wet spot, but don’t use too much. For most spots, 1/4 cup or less is enough. Allow the baking soda to rest for a day, and then give it a good vacuuming. 

Fleas: The White Towel Test 

If you think fleas are annoying, just imagine how your dog feels when they have a flea problem. It’s important to use a flea and tick treatment once a month that kills flea adults, flea eggs, and flea larvae to stop the flea life cycle. However, you should still check for ticks occasionally.

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To easily and efficiently check for ticks, have your dog lay down on a white towel. Then, brush them and inspect the towel. If you see any black spots, wet the towel and see if it changes color. If they turn red, that’s flea dirt.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda To Clean Skunk Smells

No one likes getting skunked, but it’s even worse when it happens to your dog. While this isn’t a universal problem people in every country face, it’s important to know how to deal with skunk stink if you do live in a place where it’s a problem.

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You can use 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid cleaning soap. While you prepare the mix, keep your dog outside so they don’t bring the smell inside. Check their eyes. If they are red or swollen, wash them with cool water right away.

Nail Bleeding: Get Some Baking Soda and Cornstarch 

Cutting your dog’s nails is tricky. If you cut too much, it’s downright painful and they may even bleed a little. On the rare chance that this happens, it’s important to act quickly. That’s why you should already be stocked up on the necessities in case of an emergency.

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To stop minor bleeding, try applying a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda to the nail, or try rubbing a clean, scent-free bar of soap or a damp tea bag on the nail. Paper towels, ice, and clean fabric should also be on hand.

Tweezers To Have A Tick-Free Dog

If you want to have a dog, you must be ready to face some nasty situation like treating them for ticks and fleas. Because ticks can transmit infections, it is critical to remove them ASAP. The most popular and successful approach to removing a tick is with tweezers. 

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You can’t use regular tweezers, here. Tweezers for skincare are broad and blunt, so you’ll need to get a pair of fine-point tweezers. To remove the tick, spread the dog’s fur, then grip the tick as near to the skin as possible. Pull straight up, carefully, in a steady manner.

Potty Training a Puppy

Training is always exhausting, be it a gym workout or dealing with a new pup. Don’t worry; once you get past the first few days of puppy potty training, you’ll be able to unwind a little more and start to see that the work really pays off.

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Praise your puppy whenever they go to the bathroom in the right spot. Give them a treat, repeat supportive commands like “good girl/boy,” and give them small pats on the head. By doing this, your pup will know that they did the right thing by pooping/peeing outside.

Simple Rewards For Reliable Recall

When teaching your dog to come when called, this is unquestionably one of the most crucial things to remember: jump for joy. Make returning to you the most thrilling and satisfying experience imaginable. There are countless options for incentives other than treats.

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Belly rubs, verbal praise, and showing off their favorite toy are all excellent ways to make coming when called a delightful experience. If you do choose to use treats, make sure to use small pieces so they don’t eat too many if you’re doing a lot of training.

A Container and a Ladle To Help You Collect Urine Sample

That’s right; humans are the only ones that need to give urine samples. Unfortunately, your pooch might not understand that you need to collect a sample to give to the vet. If you’re struggling to easily and cleanly collect urine, we have a few tips…

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Use a flat container, such as an aluminum pie plate, for dogs who squat. If they prefer to lift their legs, a long ladle and a nearby container will do the trick. Chances are, your dog won’t be too bothered so long as you don’t interrupt potty time.