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

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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

Meet the 2008 ASPCA Dog of the Year

Meet the 2008 ASPCA Dog of the Year Ten-year-old Cole Massie of Los Angeles, CA, may live with cerebral palsy, but he has all the support a kid could want, thanks to a very special black Lab/golden retriever mix named Ilia.

Recently crowned ASPCA Dog of the Year as part of the 2008 Humane Awards program, Ilia performs service duties like bringing items to Cole in his wheelchair and opening and closing doors. But the pooch also has that special healing touch that can’t be taught. “He provides amazing incentive to Cole during therapies, doctor’s appointments and procedures,” says Cole’s mom, Michelle Massie. “He calms, inspires and motivates my son far better than anyone ever has.”

Or, as Cole sums it up: “I like when he lies next to me in bed at night and we listen to Harry Potter on CD, and that he helps to clean me when I’m in the bath by licking my face and arms. He’s my furry brother and best friend—and a serious bed hog!

This past July, three years after boy and dog were paired by the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence, Cole was faced with a difficult, but life-changing surgery. “He had walked on his toes, and his feet were totally rolled in,” says Massie. “The operation would allow him to use his feet and free him of the wheelchair.” “Cole was frightened by the idea of surgery at first,” remembers Massie. “We explained how much more independent he’d be afterward, but he wasn’t buying it. Finally, we told him that if he had this procedure, there was a very good chance he’d be able to walk Ilia on his own—with no parents and no walker.” After that, says Massie,

“Cole would stroke the dog’s head in bed each night and whisper, ‘I will walk you, Ilia. I will walk you.'” After much coaxing, Cole underwent the surgery in Summit, NJ, and Ilia traveled more than 7,000 miles to be by the boy’s side.

The ten-year-old is now on his way to becoming an independent walker—and his dedicated service dog will be with him every step. The entire family will attend the ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City this October 30, where Ilia will be honored along with seven other extraordinary animals and people.

P.S. We’d like to remind you, pet lovers, that even heroes have their quirks. As Massie reveals, “Ilia knows 46 commands, but he won’t fetch!”

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment