Tips for Being the Best Pet Parent in Town
High five! You ARE totally nailing pet parenting!
Whether you’re a first-time dog mama, a veteran cat daddy, or something in between, you love your pets to pieces. And, yep, you’re an amazing pet parent: You provide healthy food, spoil them with lots of love, get plenty of exercise, and keep up with routine veterinary care.
But, maybe you want to level-up your parenting prowess. We got you! Here are three tips on how to be the best pet parent in town:
If you’re like most pet parents, your furball has a basket overflowing with toys in the corner of your living room. While toys are a huge part of keeping pets happy, take it up a notch with toys designed to enrich your pet’s mind and body. For instance, cats love to use their paws to manipulate food--it’s part of their instinctive, ancestral history. Try cat toys that encourage her to fish food out of slots or holes. Or, DIY one on the super cheap: Toss a few treats or pieces of kibble into a paper towel tube. Fold over the ends. Let her go at it!
Likewise, dogs love to use their noses. Instead of fetch, try “sniff!” Toss treats or food where your pup can see, then tell him to “go sniff!” He’ll dash over and gobble up the treats, of course. Then, hide the treats while he watches, and send him to “go sniff!” Once that’s mastered, hide them in another room. Your pup will get invaluable mental exercise, and if you really want to raise the bar, try this with his full breakfast or dinner to make him work for that food!
Raise your hand if you took a dog training class other than basic puppy obedience?
Obviously we can’t see you, but we can guess very few of you have your hands up because less than five percent of pet owners take a training class. Yikes!
Training keeps your dog physically and mentally active, which keeps him healthier and happier longer! Whether it’s formal obedience cues, tricks, or sports, any amount of teaching helps your dog thrive.
Sure, formal training classes can be pricey. So look for group classes that offer packages. Or, if you want to go it alone, consider taking one class to get the foundations. You can also check out books from your library or watch free YouTube videos. Just be extra careful when sourcing materials (or hiring trainers!) to make sure they use scientifically-proven methods based on positive reinforcement.
While you won’t find any group training classes for cats, there are tons of resources online for positive cat training! Cats benefit just as much as dogs do from using their heads! (It’s totally possible: My cat, Newt, gives fist bumps, and she learned it faster than one of my dogs.)
OK, this seems obvious, but here’s the thing: We tend to love on our pets the way we humans love to love, which may not be comfortable for your pet. To be the best pet parent in town, figure out what kind of love your pet loves, and dole that out daily.
For example, your cat probably doesn’t enjoy a belly rub, but she might flip for five minutes of chasing the laser toy around the kitchen. That’s love for her. Likewise, your dog may not love being squished into a great big bear hug, but he might love a belly rub on the sofa. Whatever your pet loves, do that. He’ll feel way happier, way more secure, and way more loved than if the affection wasn’t comfortable.
You’re already raising happy, healthy pets--now you have a few more ways make them even happier and even healthier!