Tips From the 'Ultimate' Guide to Pets

Do you know how cats shake hands? Author Marty Becker does.

ByABC News via GMA logo
October 8, 2008, 12:51 PM

Oct. 8, 2008 — -- Do you know how cats shake hands? Marty Becker does.

In his new books, "The Ultimate Cat Lover" and "The Ultimate Dog Lover," Becker shares such feline and canine secrets.

Today on "Good Morning America," Becker gave a sneak peak at tricks to keep your pets under control and offered a few dos and don'ts for pet owners.

For more solutions to common pet problems or to learn more about "The Ultimate Dog Lover" and "The Ultimate Cat Lover," visit

Create a designated digging and bathroom area. Dogs are known for burying bones and digging seemingly haphazardly throughout the yard. While this could tear up a perfectly good yard, stopping them completely is not the answer.

"Most [owners] want to stop digging. We want to redirect digging," Becker said. "You create a designated digging zone. Get a children's play pool [that's] an appropriate size for the dog. You put treasures like Busy Buddy Toys in there."

That way, rather than getting punished for digging in the wrong places, pooches get praised for digging in the right places.

Additionally, designating bathroom zones can keep your lawn clear of pet waste.

"You take them to the designated potty zone," Becker said. "Take them over there and when they go in that area, give them a treat. Pretty soon they want that reward and they only go to that spot in the yard."

Get a scratching post for stressed-out cats According to Becker, scratching for cats is as normal as any other exercise. So rather than letting your cats scratch the carpet or nearby chairs, invest in a scratching post.

But do not get one that is carpet, Becker said. Cats may associate that carpet with the one on the floor and scratch away.

"Give them a piece of string," Becker said. "You can spray catnip and spritz it to get them to use the scratching post. There's also a new product called Feliway -- you can spray the objects, like the edge of the couch they're scratching on, for a 97 percent reduction by using the Feliway."

Shake hands with your potential kitty. Before picking out a cat, Becker suggested trying a few tricks to figure out which one will be the best for you.

First, put your finger in front of the cat's nose. "It's like a handshake," Becker said.

Second, try "suspension," where you hold the cat up. "If they hang real loose, that's a good sign," Becker said.

Finally, Becker urged people not to forget to check their "purrometer." "The longer and stronger they purr, the more social the cat is," Becker explained.

Never give pets chocolate, grapes, macadamia nuts or raisins. According to Becker, half of the calls come into animal control during October, November and December, likely because of chocolate- and holiday-related food poisonings.