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Busy Pets Are Happy Pets: Fun Ways to Keep Your Pet Active

Dog

It seems like the most natural thing in the world—our pets need food, water, medical care and lots of love. But dogs and cats have other needs, too. Our furry friends need ample physical exercise and mental stimulation to lead truly full and happy lives.

“They need jobs,” says Kristen Collins, CPDT, ASPCA Animal Trainer. Dogs and cats need to stay busy and engaged, but unfortunately most pets are unemployed—they sit at home, chronically bored, waiting for their humans to return from work. And as we all know, an idle pet can quickly turn into a naughty pet when restlessness becomes overwhelming.

“With nothing to do, dogs and cats are forced to find ways to entertain themselves,” explains Kristen. “Their activities of choice often include behaviors we find problematic, like excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.”

To prevent behavior and health problems, Kristen recommends the following physical and mental workouts—both when you’re there to join the fun and when your pet is home alone.

  • Move it! Healthy adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day. Jogging, swimming and playing at the dog park are all great ways to burn excess energy.
  • Get Their Games On: Engage in structured games, like fetch and tug-of-war—they’re not only great exercise but also teach your pet impulse control and strengthen the bond between you.
  • Engage in the Hunt: Keep your dog occupied when he’s home alone by giving him a food-stuffed puzzle toy, like the Kong, or some tasty chew toys.
  • Let’s Get Physical: Like their canine counterparts, cats also need plenty of aerobic exercise. Get kitty fit with rousing play sessions, such as chase and fetch with furry toys, small balls or toy mice.
  • Feline Pastimes: Encourage your cat’s favorite home alone activities, including bird watching, exploring paper bags or boxes, watching cat videos or spending time in secure outdoor enclosures.
  • Teach Your Cat New Tricks! Felines are quick studies and can learn practical skills like coming when called, sitting up, rolling over and even using the toilet!

Kristen adds: “The bottom line is that you’re responsible for enriching your pet’s life. Providing opportunities to exercise your cat or dog’s mind and body will keep her healthy and happy—and enhance your relationship, too.”

For more information about enriching your pet’s life, please check out expert advice from our Virtual Pet Behaviorist.

Source:  ASPCA

Posted: Just One More Pet

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August 30, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pet Health, pet products, Pets, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pets Left Home Alone – With Anxiety

If Bowser becomes a weapon of mass destruction when home alone, the cause could simply be boredom, anxiety, or fear. To counter the boredom factor, be sure he has plenty of toys to chew, pull, and toss. Help him relax by leaving the radio or TV on at low volume while you’re out. Soothing music and the sound of voices comforts a lonely pooch and may be enough to ease his anxiety. Finally, come and go calmly. If you don’t make a big fuss of your departure and return, he might not, either… DogAge Tip

Leaving your pup in a crate (or cage) for regularly or for extended periods of time is also not the answer.  There is a growing movement against cage or crate training for the purpose of housing your dog regularly or for extended periods of time. Initial crate training to get pups used to a crate or carrier for travel or visitation situations, for their safety, or to give them a comfortable place to retreat to, on their own, but with the door unlocked, should be the goal; not for regular housing.  Recent studies and common sense have shown that regular and extensive cage confinement can cause aggression, nervousness, and increase barking when your pet is finally out of their cage and can cause or exasserbate bladder and kidney problems in future years.

 If you have left your dog caged regularly or for extended periods of time, it will probably take them awhile to calm down and adjust to being out and home alone.  So there may be some incidents of chewing or extended barking; TV or music may help that.

If your dog is very destructive, professional training is suggested.  Other options are confining them to a kitchen or service porch area, with their cage accessable but left open, but where they can walk around and access their food, water and a piddle pad or doggie door if needed.  Soothing music, a small TV on the counter and toys, as well as hiring a dog walker, always help!

Be a responsible and sensitive pet parent.  Crate training and regular confinement has been promoted by pet store owners and crate manufacturers to entice people to purchase pets while requiring minimal effort or adustment and sacrifice on their part, upping pet sales as well as the sale of crates and other related products.  It is not in the best interest of the pet.  It is in the best interest of the owner.

Animals, like children, add love and companionship to our lives, but require a certain amount of adjustment and sacrifice.  Clean and perfect homes and houses become a thing of the past; a small price for best friend.  All relationships require compromise and adjustment if they are to be successful and mutually fulfilling… with pets as well as with humans.

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Pets, Stop Animal Cruelty, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments