Trouble, Spot: 7 Ways to Pet-Proof Your Gear

If your two greatest loves in this world are your home theater and your dog Sparky, you may have learned the hard way that they don't always play nice together. Let's face it: As domesticated as modern pets are, they can't exactly be expected to know what those remote controls are for, or that scratching a plasma TV screen is way worse than chewing a slipper.

Before you reach for the phone to call the Dog Whisperer, we've got some easy solutions for setting some rules, boundaries and limitations for your pet - and make sure your entertainment center doesn't give Sparky's name a raison d'être.

Temptation 1: Cables The cables in the back of most equipment racks often resemble a rat's nest, so it only makes sense that it would be a favorite hunting zone for cats (not exactly known for their restraint around stringy things). And plenty of dogs will chew on anything.

To keep Mr. Squiggles and Rex from getting their claws into your coax, cover your cords with something difficult to slice: You might try using spiral wrap, typically made of thick polyethylene, to give you an extra layer of protection. Wire loom, resembling old-skool phone cord, and CritterCord, tubing infused with citrus to deter potential nibblers, are other options.

Temptation 2: Speakers Those full-range tower speakers with the real wood veneers sure are gorgeous, aren't they? They're also likely the prime substitute for your feline's scratching post. Even if your speakers don't have wood veneers, any speaker grille is a potential claw magnet. If putting the speakers on stands isn't an option, you might try a strategic placement of a ScatMat, a flexible vinyl pad that will bestow a small shock on any creature that steps on it. The little zaps won't do any lasting damage, and kitty should learn to stay away after a few touches.

Can't bring yourself to shock your pet even that much? Cats generally hate to claw anything sticky, so you can try covering your speakers in aluminum foil with double-sided tape all over them. Relax - it's a temporary solution. After you're finished, place scratching posts next to the speakers to give your pet a scratching alternative, then slowly move them away over the course of a couple of weeks. Hopefully by then the little guy's claws will no longer have a hankerin' for cherrywood finish.

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