Although you may desire nothing more than plopping on your couch after a long day at work, your pet has been waiting for you to come home and shower her with attention. With no interaction throughout the day, your furry friend needs physical and mental activity to fulfill her needs, and prevent problem behaviors, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Use these five ways to pump you up and enjoy being active with your best friend.
#1: Investigate novel activities for your pet
While cats don’t have agility or flyball clubs, a variety of organizations exist for canine sports. Discover your pup’s strengths, whether it’s fetching, jumping, or obedience, and search for a training course or club nearby that offers instruction in your chosen activity. Your pooch is never too old to become involved in something new—simply ensure she is in good health before beginning a new sport. A few activities that may pique your dog’s interest include:
- Dock diving
- Scent work
- Lure coursing
- Therapy dog training
Whatever your dog enjoys, you can find an organization that will encourage learning a new activity.
#2: Get out of your neighborhood and explore with your pet
Do you enjoy running on the treadmill, day after day? Although you may love developing your cardio fitness, your pet would likely appreciate a change in scenery with her exercise routine. Avoid falling into a rut of walking the same route through your neighborhood every day, and spice up your daily jaunts with new locations. Choose a different path through your neighborhood, discover a hidden hiking trail, or explore a new section of town. Your canine companion will enjoy sniffing new scents, while new sights will help reduce your boredom with the daily routine.
#3: Invite a friend over for a pet play date
While some felines are friendly toward strange animals, they rarely welcome unknown pets into their home. Older cats are highly unlikely to enjoy a play date with another cat, but kittens during their socialization period may quickly warm up to and appreciate a new playmate.
Dogs tend to be more accepting of a new playmate, especially if they meet on neutral territory without overwhelming excitement. Many pet owners take their dogs to a dog park to burn off steam, but parks can become too crowded or too stimulating, leading to tension and conflict. Instead, meet up with a buddy for a walk around the neighborhood and, once your dog and your friend’s dog are comfortable walking together, allow them to play off-leash in a backyard or other fenced-in area.
If your pet is not excited about welcoming another animal into her home, invite a human friend. Your pooch will likely enjoy a new person’s attention, and have a fun-filled afternoon playing games and showing off her tricks.
On busy days when you aren’t able to entertain, take advantage of our partner business, Pawlins Total Pet Care. Drop your pet off for a fun-filled day of enrichment, play, and time with friends. While you’re working, your pet will work off extra energy while playing with her buddies.
#4: Teach your pet new games
You and your pet likely get tired of the same old game of fetch or playing with a toy mouse. Instead of sitting on the couch, dully tossing a ball down the hallway, devise a new game for your furry pal. Try one of the following:
- Solve a puzzle — Use puzzle feeders for your pet’s meals, such as stuffed Kongs, commercial puzzles, crumpled paper balls filled with kibble, or a muffin tin with tennis balls that hide pieces of food.
- Whack a mole — Create a whack-a-mole game for your cat by cutting holes in a cardboard box and sticking a feather wand through to appeal to her hunter instincts. Make this game canine-friendly by using a long pretzel stick or hot dog for your pup to nab.
- Hunt for treasure — Design a treasure hunt for your furry pal by hiding small treats for her to sniff out throughout your home. At the end of the hunt, offer the jackpot of a special reward.
- Run the course — Build an indoor agility course with jumps, weave poles, and tunnels. Use a food lure to encourage your pet to complete the course, and she will soon catch on to the plan. Cats also can be taught to run through an agility course, so long as you provide enough incentive.
- Click for good behavior — Teach a new trick using clicker training or a food lure. Positive methods work best to encourage your pet to figure out the behavior you’d like to see.
#5: Schedule a wellness visit with the River Road Veterinary Hospital team to ensure your pet is exercising pain-free
If your older pet seems to be slowing down and no longer seems interested in her normal exercise routine, she may be suffering from osteoarthritis or another medical condition. Most older pets develop osteoarthritis, especially in the hips, knees, and elbows, and some may develop vertebral conditions that also affect the spine. These painful bony changes may make your furry friend reluctant about any activity, but our veterinary team can check for any signs of conditions, such as muscle weakness or joint pain, that may limit her activity. We’ll develop a treatment plan to combat your pet’s pain, and make her comfortable enough to enjoy her daily activities again.
Are you ready to explore a new hiking trail, or sign up for an agility class? Ensure your pet is ready for action by scheduling a wellness appointment with our team.