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Walking Your Cat Tips

Photo by the UCLA Shutterbug

Most housecats, given the opportunity, enjoy being outdoors.

Living inside isn’t an entirely natural environment for felines.

It’s hard for your kitty to express his innate urge to explore, climb and hunt prey from his perch at the window or on the back of your chair.

Unfortunately, letting him run around loose outside is unacceptably risky.

Cats with free access to the outdoors are much more likely to be exposed to viruses and other disease-causing agents … not to mention poisons, predators, and speeding traffic.

Indoor cats need environmental enrichment, and one of the ways to broaden your kitty’s horizons is to get her outdoors on a harness and leash.

Walking your cat on a leash offers her the best of all possible worlds in the form of safe access to the great outdoors.

An ideal lifestyle for your kitty would be one in which she has challenging outdoor adventures (every trip outside is challenging to an indoor cat) that enrich her otherwise comfortable, if un-stimulating indoor existence.

10 Tips for Training Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

  1. Know thy feline. Most cats, and especially kittens, can be trained to walk on a harness and leash.

    Most will appreciate the opportunity to safely explore a new, exciting outdoor environment. But that is most cats … not all. If you suspect your cat would never in a million years be agreeable to walking on a leash, you’re probably right. But it can’t hurt to try.

  2. Purchase a harness for the leash, not a collar. If your cat runs up a tree, a standard collar could strangle him, and a breakaway collar will detach. In addition, kitties are extremely flexible and able to fit through tiny, awkward spaces. It isn’t uncommon for cats to make like Houdini and find a way out of their collars. You don’t want this worry while you’re outdoors with your cat.

    There are harnesses designed for cats, as well as walking jackets1 and kitty holsters2. The leash attachment is toward the middle on these harnesses rather than at the neck, which is much safer and less stressful for your kitty. (If you fear your cat will never take to walks outdoors but you want to give it a try, buy your gear from a retailer with a liberal return policy.)

  3. Start slow, take baby steps forward, and expect setbacks. As anyone knows who is owned by a cat, they are not dogs and will do what they want, when they want, for however long they want. But what many cat lovers don’t realize is most kitties do actually respond to food treats, verbal praise, and praise in the form of head pats and ear scratches.

    Do your training sessions when your cat is hungry. Break treats into very small pieces – your kitty’s level of cooperation will decrease in direct proportion to how quickly her tummy gets full. Cats don’t have a desire to please their humans like dogs do, so food treats are their primary incentive. To insure you don’t overfeed, limit treat-giving to training sessions.

  4. Before you even think about stepping outside you must get your cat used to wearing the harness and leash. Put the harness on your cat, making sure it’s snug but not too tight. The second you’ve got the harness on, before you let go of her, give her a treat. If she takes a step in the harness, give her a treat, praise her and pat her on the head. Repeat the treating and praising if she continues to move about in her harness.

    If instead kitty drops to the ground, wait to see if she moves and give a treat if she does. If she seems frozen in place, or if her way of freaking out is to run and hide under something, remove the harness and give a treat as a peace offering. Try leaving the harness near your cat’s food bowl at mealtime and near her favorite napping spot for a few days to get her used to seeing it in places she associates with good things.

    You can also hold the harness and a few treats and when/if kitty sniffs the harness, give her a treat. Next hold the harness against her body and offer a treat. As she sniffs the treat, slowly pull the harness away and let her eat the treat.

    Giving treats immediately is crucial because your cat has an attention span of mere seconds, and you want her to connect a desired action with getting a treat.

    As your cat learns to tolerate the harness and leash for longer periods, give her a constant stream of verbal praise, head pats and food treats while she’s wearing it. When she’s obviously done with a training session, meaning she’s dropped to the ground, her tail is switching, ears flattened – whatever signs she normally gives that she’s no longer enjoying herself – remove the harness immediately. You want to end the session with kitty feeling confident and in control.

  5. Once your cat is walking around in his harness and leash in a normal manner, you can step outside the door. Depending on your pet’s temperament, you could easily spend the next month just getting down the front walk or onto the grass. Or … you could be taking kitty on real nature walks in 30 days. It just depends on how easily your cat adjusts to being outdoors and tethered to you.
  6. If your neighborhood has lots of traffic noise, dogs, or other distractions that your cat views as threatening, try taking her to a quieter area where she’s less exposed to frightening sights and sounds.
  7. Coax your cat a little farther on each outing. When he’s eagerly exploring a new area with his tail up, take another baby step.
  8. Make sure your kitty doesn’t pick up anything in her mouth or lick anything. And no tree climbing for leashed cats. It’s too dangerous.
  9. Don’t tie your cat’s leash to something and leave her outside, even for a minute. If something spooks her, she could get tangled in the leash. If she’s threatened by another animal or even a person, she can’t get away. Your kitty should never be outside unattended for any reason.
  10. Expect setbacks. Your cat might be okay in a new area on Monday and when you take him there on Tuesday, something freaks him out. Step back to the last place he was comfortable, and start moving forward with baby steps again. And unless your kitty is in harm’s way, resist the urge to pick him up if something spooks him. It’s better for his confidence if you can leave him on the ground.

By Dr. Becker

References:

Source: The New York Times December 28, 2011

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets | , , , | 1 Comment

Doggin’ The Black Hills: 15 Cool Things To See When You Hike With Your Dog

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"If your dog is fat," the old saying goes, "you aren’t getting enough exercise." But walking the dog need not be just about a little exercise. Here are 15 cool things you can see around the Black Hills while you hike with your dog.

ABANDONED MINES. The old rail lines-turned trails are good places to see vestiges of old mines. Along the Deerfield Trail you can see the remains of the Black Tom Mine and there are traces of several mines on the Mickelson Trail. Chief among them are the White Elephant Trail, where feldspar was pulled from the ground, and the Wasp Mine, that collapsed on the rail line in 1927.

BISON. When hiking the prairie trails through the Black Hills it won’t be long until you see North America’s largest land animal. Herds that once numbered in the millions were reduced to as few as 15 animals in the 1880s before conservation efforts began. Now Custer State Park is home to more than 1,500 free-roaming bison, one of the world’s largest public bison herds. Another small herd is in Bear Butte State Park.

BRIDGES. Railroad builders used bridges to level out the rollercoaster terrain of the Black Hills. There are more than 100 wooden trestles on the Mickelson Trail alone. The largest was the Sheep Canyon Trestle, 126 feet high and 700 feet long. Therickety trestle was considered so dangerous that engineers and brakemen would walk over the bridge instead of riding the train.

COLD WAR RELICS. In Memorial Park in Rapid City stands America’s largest exhibit devoted to the Berlin Wall – double 12-foot segments of the concrete wall. On the ground on either side of the Wall are tank traps. Photos and interpretive panels tell the story of the dominant symbol of the Cold War. Memorial Park is on the Rapid City Recreation Path.

DAMS. Flood control has been a theme in the Black Hills since the 1930s. Dams across streams and rivers have spawned water recreation areas that are favorite destinations for an outing with the dog. The largest such lake in the Black Hills is the Pactola Reservoir with trails along much of its 14 miles of pine-scented shoreline. Others include the dam at Cold Brook Lake Recreation Area on the Fall River and the Cottonwood Springs Dam.

FAMOUS CABINS. The Badger Clark Historic Trail in Custer State Park starts at the former home of Charles Badger Clark, South Dakota’s first poet-laureate. Clark rook five years to build the stone-and-frame cabin and lived here for 30 years. He also laid out most of the footpath. In Wyoming, along Sand Creek, publisher Moses Annenberg built historic Ranch A, now used for meetings and classrooms. Canine hikers can view the log home at the Dugout Gulch Botanical Area.

GHOST TOWNS. Mining towns came and went very quickly in the gold rush days of the 1880s in the Black Hills. The most intact deserted town in the region is Tinton, visited on the Big Hill Trails. There is an old miner’s hall, a post office and the Black Hills Tin Company store to explore. At the Mystic Trailhead on the Mickelson Trail is theMystic Townsite, where seven buildings and 14 foundations remain from a gold mining community.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS. Hikers can check out the Bulldog Ranch on Rochford Road that was a favorite stopping point for travelers in the late 19th century. Proprietoress Sarah Anne Erbe was known as "Madame Bulldog" for two dogs she kept died up out back to dissuade chicken thieves. Another building from that era that can be inspected up close is the Kroll Meat Market and Slaughterhouse in Spearfish City Park.

LOFTY PEAKS. There are many mountaintops in the Black Hills that can be reached with your dog. Harney Peak, at 7,242 feet, is the highest and Bear Mountain (7,153 feet) is right behind. Ski enthusiasts have carved 16 miles of year-round trails at Bear Mountain. The craggy peak of Flag Mountain serves up expansive views, including a long look to the east of Reynolds Prairie, the largest of three open grasslands in the vicinity. Crow Peak may only be 5,760 feet high but what it lacks in height, it makes up in difficulty. Your reward for a grueling climb is 360-degree vistas at the summit.

LOGGING FLUMES. Water flumes served two purposes in the Black Hills: to transport logs to railheads or to move water into isolated areas for hydraulic gold-mining. The latter is best exemplified by the Rockerville Flume, that operated in the 1880s. An 11-mile trail (the flume was 20 miles long) in the Black Hills National Forest now follows the route of the wooden flume. Remnants of the Warren-Lamb flume used to float logs can still be seen along the Deerfield Trail.

MOVIE SETS. For the 1990 Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves, star/director Kevin Costner filmed the Indian winter camp was set up in Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills National Forest; the exact spot of the final scene where Costner and Mary MacDonnell leave the tribe was once marked by signs but have long since succumbed to souvenir-hunters. The opening sequence, where Costner receives his orders at Fort Hays to travel to Fort Sedgewick, was filmed on a private ranch east of Rapid City. Two of the set pieces, the major’s house and the blacksmith shop have been moved to this tourist spot known as the Fort Hays Film Set (four miles south of Rapid City). The Sage Creek Wilderness Area in the Badlands National Park was the backdrop for the wagon trip through Sioux Indian country to Fort Sedgewick.

OLD FORTS. As you hike through Fort Meade Recreation Area you can still see stone jumps used to train horses in the old cavlary outpost. If you look closely, you may also notice some circular depressions in the hillsides created by exploding shells from artillery practice. The Old Fort Meade Cemetery is still on the grounds as well.

PRESIDENTIAL FOOTSTEPS. Calvin Coolidge became the first United States President to spend the summer west of the Mississippi River, selecting the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park for his "summer White House." Today, the Grace Coolidge Walk-In Fishing Area is an easy three-mile walk on a dirt path along a creek to Center Lake. Earlier Theodore Roosevelt was a frequent visitor to the Black Hills and a short trail leads to Friendship Tower on Mount Roosevelt, named in his honor. Alas, dogs are not allowed on the trails at Mount Rushmore and can experience this presidential memorial only from the car.

PUBLIC ART. As you walk your dog around Belle Fourche you can see bronze statues of some of the famous rodeo performers – human and animal – that have visited town. The favorite subject in Deadwood is Wild Bill Hickok and you can see his likeness several times as you hike through the historic gaming town.

RAILROAD SOUVENIRS. Anyone can appreciate obvious reminders of the railroad age in the Black Hills like the caboose in Edgemont Park but a more discerning eye can see more fascinating relics. For instance, on the Mickelson Trail near the White Elephant Trailhead, a canine hiker can see a sign with a "W" emblazoned on it. This is one of four places in the more than 100 miles of track that engineers were instructed to blow their whistles to warn people and animals. And near a bridge trestle you can see one of the original mile marker signs made of heavy metal and painted white with a numeral that pinpointed a train’s location on the line to .01 of a mile. Only a few of these old markers remain.

Source: Hike With Your Dog – Re-posted:  Just One More Pet

February 14, 2011 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, On The Lighter Side, Pet Blog, pet fun, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership, We Are All God's Creatures | , , | 3 Comments

YES! Walking Your Dog Counts!

YES! Walking Your Dog Counts!

Just how effective can walking your dog be when trying to lose weight? Pretty effective, according to a University of Missouri-Columbia study in which participants lost an average of 14 pounds by walking a dog 20 minutes a day, five days a week for 50 weeks. The study shows that you can still see weight-loss results without power walking or jogging. A routine stroll could be just the trick!

There are two reasons why walking your dog can be more effective than walking by yourself:

• People tend to be more faithful to their furry friends than they are to their own fitness regime.

• The mere fact that walking a dog requires a set schedule forces you to follow it.

• Walking your dog gives you just the kind of discipline and motivation you need to lose weight!

So grab a leash, get your dog, and start walking!  Looking to pick up a little extra cash?  Pick up a couple dog walking jobs… and see your health improve and the pounds melt away.

Posted: True Health Is True Wealth – Cross-Posted:  Just One More Pet

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, pet fun, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

How walking the dog beats going to a gym: It gives you EIGHT hours of exercise a week

Geri Halliwell

Geri Halliwell’s svelte figure may be down to the regular walks she takes with her pet shih-tzu Harry

For those who are keen to keep fit but low on motivation, a personal trainer is often the best option.

But the human version may not be the most effective.

Dog owners get more exercise walking their pet than someone with a gym membership, researchers have found.

On average they exercise the animal twice a day for 24 minutes each time – a total of five hours and 38 minutes a week, a study for the pet healthcare experts Bob Martin found.

On top of that, the average owner takes their dog out on three long walks each week, adding a further two hours and 33 minutes to the total.

Those without a dog spend an average of just one hour and 20 minutes a week exercising by going to the gym or heading out for a stroll or jog.

Worse still, almost half – 47 per cent – of non-pet owners admit they do absolutely no exercise whatsoever.

A spokesman for Bob Martin said: ‘A couple of short walks a day soon adds up and this research shows that it amounts to more time than people spend in the gym.’

The study of 5,000 Britons, including 3,000 dog owners, revealed that 57 per cent see walking the dog as their main form of exercise.

More than three quarters say they would rather take their pooch for a hike than go to the gym.

Some 86 per cent say they enjoy taking their pet out each day, with just 22 per cent saying they ever see it as a chore.

But only 16 per cent say they enjoy exercising in the gym, with almost 70 per cent considering it a chore they have to do rather than something they would like to do.

The survey showed that having a dog to walk actually encourages regular exercise with 60 per cent of pet owners saying they always go for a walk with their dog – even when time is precious.

But 46 per cent of gym-goers admit they often find other things to do to get out of doing exercise.

More than half of dog owners think walking their pet is a great way to meet new people.

The spokesman said: ‘Owning a dog makes us more healthy. The Government recommends 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise 3-5 times per week and it’s encouraging to see that dog walkers are exceeding this target and enjoying it at the same time.’

Source: OnlineMail – UK

Posted:  Just One More Pet

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, pet fun, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment