The kids aren't the only ones who need to be entertained during this time of social distancing. This week we have dedicated our time to providing you with some tools to ensuring your pet is happy and entertained at home.
Aim for a happy and fulfilled pet not just a tired pet!
It is not necessary or advisable to exercise pets until exhaustion. The old saying that a tired pet is a good pet is not necessarily in the best interest of the pet. Over exercising may physically exhaust but not mentally engage a pet. Mental stimulation through exploratory and social activities provides for enrichment and meets more of the pet’s needs. A well- exercised pet is likely to develop more and more endurance. In essence we are creating a marathon runner rather than meeting a pet’s social and exploratory needs. Moderate exercise is good; strenuous exercise is not necessary.
In young animals, the stress of excessive exercise on developing joints can be detrimental and in older pets it can cause pain or discomfort if arthritis is present.
What does this mean? Pay attention to the mental aspect of your pet's walks. New sights, sounds, and smells are intriguing for most pets, especially if introduced to walks and novelty when young. Be engaged with and observant of their pet during walks. This is an activity to do together! Taking small food treats on walks allows you, the pet owner to reinforce desired behaviour and helps reinforce the bond between you and your pet.
Here are a few tips to help keep you and your canine buddy entertained and happy. Some of these tips can also be used for your feline buddy as well!
Mental stimulation is essential and it can be surprisingly tiring. Think about how you feel after a long day at work. Here are a few things to try at home.
#1 – Make them work for their food! Treat dispensing toys or puzzle feeders Food-Storing Toys - Fill the toy with anything from wet food, treats, kibble and even a bit of peanut butter. **Be mindful of your dog's dietary sensitivities. During the pandemic, now is not the time to also be dealing with an upset stomach**
#2 Play time Now is the time to teach your dog to play fetch! Otherwise, find a toy that your dog enjoys and have some fun! Tug of war is a great way to expend energy. ** Always supervise play time with your dog**
#3 Training Have you always wanted to have a dog that could roll over, shake a paw or maybe even bring you a beer? Now is the time to teach them! Several short training sessions a day provide cognitive enrichment.
Develop a play relationship with your pet!
Social play with other pets is something we normally focus on but social play with people is more important for fostering a social relationship between the pet and pet owner. Studies have shown that dogs prefer human company to that of other dogs. So if you're unable to go to the dog park right now, its a GREAT time to focus on and strengthen the human-animal bond!
Cats and dogs need to learn how to interact and play with their owners. Developing a play relationship based on trust and understanding will facilitate a strong bond between you and your pet. Some of the best types of play are with long tug toys or wand-type toys. This allows both you and your pet to engage in play. Appropriate play with a tug toy will not make a dog aggressive.
**Play needs to be modified appropriately to prevent over arousal and possible accidental injury** Read these guidelines on how to implement "tug" into your pet's routine.
Try these "Find It" games at home!
Teaching cats and dogs how to search for their food or even for a favourite toy can make for great fun. Cats naturally eat numerous small meals in a day and spend a majority of their day hunting. We can provide an outlet for this activity through the find-it game outlined in the downloadable handouts here. The exercise is slightly different for cats and dogs. Many animals when given a choice to solve a puzzle to get food versus eating it from a bowl will choose the puzzle. There is a term for this called contra-freeloading. Exploratory activities should appeal to our pets’ senses, such as sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Providing appropriate exploratory activities for our feline and canine friends is enriching both mentally and physically.
Click on the pictures below to download the file.
Cats are natural predators! Cats learn predatory behaviour at an early age. Predatory behaviour is the reason cats play with wand - type toys. Here is a great game to play with your cat.
You are your pet's best friend!
Have fun and enjoy this opportunity to spend more time with them. Send us your stories or pictures of you playing with your furry friend to our Facebook or Instagram accounts or firstname.lastname@example.org
References : Fear Free Pets www.fearfreepets.com