By Dawn Todd
This week I was in an exam room talking to Patty. She was with her muscular little brown terrier Buster, and a couple of her two legged children. As we talked I discovered that young Buster had 24 hour access to a dog door, no fence, and could go anywhere in the world he desired, at any time.Another client, let’s call her Susan, puts out a full buffet for her dog along the fireplace hearth each day. There are choices of grilled meats, eggs, leftovers from the previous nights dinner.. and most incredibly (I couldn’t make this up), a glass of coca cola!
As you might imagine… both these humans really love their pets and want them to be happy, but they’re loving them, literally, to death!I asked each of these clients to imagine how their human children would behave if they had absolutely no rules, no restrictions, no bed time, no meal times, no curfews, and they could eat whatever they wanted at any time of the day? Most of us would assume those children would be what I sometimes refer to as “feral children”.
Fortunately, most of us are well aware that children thrive when they have structure, routine, boundaries, education, social time, games, healthy food, and physical activity as part of their daily lives. Our canine (and feline) companions have the very same basic requirements.
Our human children are living with us (hopefully) for just 18 years… coincidentally about as many years as you can squeeze out of a much loved dog or cat. Most of us invest tremendous effort in raising a human child to be a good citizen of the world.
Today I’d like to suggest three easy things you can do each day to build stronger bonds with your furry family members. These recommendations foster relationships that are more fulfilling and healthy for both parties. These recommendations promote longevity – both for the relationship, and lifespan. After all, barring tragedy, you’ll be spending lots and lots of years together. Let us help you make a great “marriage”!
It’s Easy as Do Re Mi… A B C….1 2 3 … or P E T!
P is for PLAY and in the immortal words of Dr. Seuss…. Fun is Good! Even if you think your dog doesn’t like to play, all dogs can be taught to enjoy a fun game.
There are many benefits to play, and countless games you can teach your pets. When you regularly play games with your pets, they’re more bonded to you and more likely to “work” for you when you need them to. When dogs know that you are the source of all things good…. play, food, exercise…. they watch you like a hawk and are much easier to train.
Play With Your Dog by Pat Miller, is a great resource with 100 different games including directions on how to teach them. Teaching your dogs and cats to play with you is fun… but dogs also like to have their own social circles, and a variety of canine friends. That’s where Noah’s Playground comes in. Dogs at the Playground make fast friends with other dogs and it’s a huge quality of life treat that you can give your best furry friend. We talked about types of dog play in our August newsletter, and you can review that issue by clicking here.
E is for EXERCISE …. and in the immortal words of Nike…. just do it! Everyone agrees that having a buddy makes a fitness plan easier to stick to. I’d like to propose that making your dog your fitness partner is a “win-win” for both of you. A properly exercised pooch is a happy pooch. For more tips on how to have a fun and safe canine exercise partner, whether you have one dog or many, click here.
If you need help getting your dog enough exercise and socialization, we’ve got a solution! Visit Noah’s Playground, or click here to see the menu of services. Even lucky dogs who go to Noah’s Playground benefit from going on short daily walks with their human. If you have many dogs (as some of us do) don’t feel pressure to take them all at the same time. Give dogs in multiple dog households a chance to walk one on one with just you… even if you can’t do all dogs every day.
T is for TRAINING ….and to quote one of my very favorite behavior experts, Dr. Ian Dunbar, “Training a canine is like raising a child. Every single interaction is a training opportunity.”
I sense that when most people think of training, formal classes and a big time commitment come to mind. We do our best to stress in our Good Dog! classes that training is something that happens each and every day throughout a pet’s life. (And yes, you can train cats too! If you don’t believe me, click here.)
You’ll never have a dog “trained” in five easy classes… just like your human children couldn’t graduate high school after attending only kindergarten. Learning and training occur every day in every interaction. You must also remember that canine and feline attention spans are short – a couple of 3-5 minute sessions per day can really add up over time.
My promise: If you spend just a few minutes each day providing your pet with P E T, your relationship will continue to grow stronger throughout both your lifetimes!
Remember, we’re here to be your complete support for any and all things related to your furry family. (Sorry, no human children advice!) Always feel free to email or phone us with any questions that may arise! PS…if the best trained cat made you smile… you’ll love this.