WALKING CATS PROVIDES ENRICHMENT

Indoor cats must always stay indoors! Not true. Many pet parents have found that walking cats provides enrichment that cannot be equalled. Sure, watching birds, squirrels and lizards through the window is okay but allowing them the opportunity to breath and smell the fresh air brings far greater joy. Plus, it’s an experience that feline and human can engage in together. It strengthens their bond, an unbreakable bond.

Walking cats provides enrichment which can be done safely by using a strap harness 
Credit: Photo by K B
Walking cats provides enrichment which can be done safely by using a strap harness
Credit: Photo by K B

Some Kitties Also Hike And Swim

Although it’s not very common that you’ll actually see a cat being walked, sometimes they participate in other “unusual” activities, too. There are kitties that go hiking. Others enjoy a little swim in the pool. 

It’s all up to the creativity of the cat guardian to experiment and find ways to stimulate their pet. The relatively effortless act of walking enriches feline lives. It’s worth remembering that both physical and mental exercise prevent boredom and help keep them in good health, as well. It allows them to thrive, not just be.

As you can see, walking enriches feline lives by allowing them to experience nature up close
As you can see, walking enriches feline lives by allowing them to experience nature up close

KITTING OUT YOUR KITTY

Kitty ID

Before your cat companion ventures beyond your front door, make sure you have everything it needs to be safe and comfortable.

As you know by now, I do not take chances. So, if Fluffy tolerates wearing a collar that displays her ID, make sure she is wearing it while on her trip into the big, wide world. Please ensure it is the breakaway type so that it will unfasten if she were to ever get caught up or tangled. That way, she can free herself and avoid further injury.

Made by hand and made to measure, a harness designer can offer unique detailing
Made by hand and made to measure, a harness designer can offer unique detailing

Harness And Leash

Since cats are far more delicate than dogs, it is never advisable to try walking her with the leash attached to a collar. There are special harnesses just for cats and the leash will clip onto the ring between the shoulders or a little further down the back.

There are two basic styles of harnesses for cats. 

Firstly, we have the fabric, vest-type design, that is usually made of soft mesh. It slips over the head, passes underneath the chest, behind the front legs and two side straps snap together between the shoulders.

An example of how cats can enjoy the outdoors and bond with their guardian 
Credit: Photo by Birhanb
An example of how cats can enjoy the outdoors and bond with their guardian
Credit: Photo by Birhanb

Then there is the one that is all straps. It is actually two loops that are joined together by a strap that rests on the cat’s upper back. The straps that form the neck loop and the girth loop are positioned and then snapped in place.

Getting Accustomed

Now, if you strongly believe that walking cats provides enrichment and you want to give it a try, ideally you should start in kittenhood. To begin with, the youngster will need to learn to accept a harness, firstly indoors and then outside. Try it out for just a few minutes and then gradually build up to longer periods. 

Since cats are more delicate than dogs, a snug-fitting, fabric harness vest is ideal
Since cats are more delicate than dogs, a snug-fitting, fabric harness vest is ideal

Getting used to how the harness feels and walking at the end of a leash requires practice. This will help to minimize any possible stress and reluctance, and ensure it becomes an experience to look forward to. 

However, you need to realize that not all cats like wearing a harness. The older they are when they are first introduced to it, the greater the likelihood that your feline friend will refuse to wear one. You simply won’t know how she will react until you try.

In cooler weather, your kitty can still enjoy a walk wearing its harness over a sweater
In cooler weather, your kitty can still enjoy a walk wearing its harness over a sweater

To Sum Up

Most indoor cats never have the opportunity to go outdoors. They can only imagine what it’s like by staring at the outside through a window from the inside.

An indoor cat can benefit greatly from these walks. It is really great exercise. She will stay agile and in her optimum weight. It will stimulate her senses, serve as enrichment, and make her a very happy kitty indeed!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  


DOG EXERCISE CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Whatever the exercise, consistency is key to keeping your dog active, healthy and happy
You will rarely meet a dog that doesn’t love the physical challenge of a good ball game

A daily exercise routine for your dog is necessary to safeguard his physical and emotional health
Another form of exercise, this dog proudly carries his big stick

Today’s blog is about physical activity with a focus on why dog exercise consistency is key. 

An appropriate range of physical activities, sometimes with the use of tools, provide the benefits required for your pets to be healthy and stay healthy. We tell humans this all the time, and the exact same principles apply to the dogs in our lives.

This may be stating the obvious but the whole point here is to give some of you a little nudge to actually do so. And, to be sensible about it. To factor in physical condition, the breed’s DNA, your surroundings, and climatic conditions.

Consistency Is A Major Factor

On average, 20 minutes of aerobic activity daily is considered necessary for your dog’s health. It is the recommended time a pet parent should put aside for this purpose. Not only is it vital for his overall physical well-being, it also helps alleviate boredom and destructive behaviors.

Here’s the next point to bear in mind. Regardless of what type of exercise it actually is, at least some activity must be done each and every day. Also, even though your intentions are good, it’s not wise to over-indulge. By that I mean, little or no physical activity during the typical work week, then “binge” at the weekend.

On top of that, more injuries occur when physical exertion is not increased gradually. As an example, what do amateur and professional athletes do? They warm up and cool down, by stretching and prepping. Consequently, precautionary measures like these will minimize the likelihood your pet will suffer strains and sprains.

Here are some ideas.

Activities: 
  • Walking briskly is basic good exercise that most pet parents can do.
  • Jogging is an ideal activity for more athletically inclined humans and canines.
  • Fetching a ball or catching a frisbee is easily done in the confines of a fenced-in back yard.
  • When dogs really enjoy the outdoors they often love to be their family’s hiking companion.
  • Swimming is a fabulous activity for a broad range of dogs that can choose how playfully or strenuously they want to participate.
  • Another outdoor option is having your dog trot alongside while you are bicycling. However, this does require thorough training and a high degree of caution for it to be safe for everyone involved.
  • Treadmill workouts are gaining popularity especially in areas that are prone to harsh weather conditions that can occur at any time of year. They also require training and extreme caution. And, if you didn’t already know, there are several treadmills designed specifically for canines. So go check them out.
Tools: 
  • Ball, frisbee, stick (inexpensive, exercise-promoting toys)
  • Hide and seek objects (be creative)
  • Set up an agility course (even a small, simple one for beginners and less energetic breeds can work wonders)
Benefits:
  • These include cardiovascular health, agility, reflex acuity, and muscle tone.
  • Exercise provides mental stimulation and is highly beneficial in the effort to control destructive behavior.

Find out what motivates your dog. Have fun. Enjoy your quality time together. Be creative but, above all, be sensible. And, please make an effort to be consistent. A health, active dog is a happy dog.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

AVOID CONFRONTATION WALKING DOGS

By being on the defensive, you can avoid confrontations when you walk your dog
To avoid confrontations when walking your dog, be on the defensive

Be On The Defensive…Not The Offensive

What makes a good driver and a good dog walker? Someone who is cautious. It requires taking appropriate action to avoid confrontation walking dogs just like being defensive when driving a vehicle. 

Without exception, it is always better to stay clear of what could turn out be a conflictive situation that ends in an accident. The priority is safety. And, most importantly, human intervention will keep people and their companion animals out of danger.

To Share Or Not To Share…The Sidewalk

Naturally, you have the right to walk your dog on the sidewalk. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility as a pet parent to teach him to walk properly on the leash. This means eliminating the urge to pull, lunge, bark, growl and become ferocious. 

Likewise, it is the responsibility of other pet parents, who you are certain to come across on your outdoor trips, to do exactly the same. But, this is not a perfect world. 

Dodging Conflict Dog Walking

As most of you are aware, some dogs are hard to train and others have never been trained. Then there are those that have acquired certain negative behaviors as a result of previously being abandoned, injured, or abused.

If your dog knows another dog really well and they are both friendly towards each other, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t interact and rub noses. However, when this is not the case, and this is most of the time, the best advice I can give is…be on the defensive.

What I Do 

When I see a dog walking towards me, I cross over to the other side. Doing this will avoid coming face to face in case a direct confrontation occurs.

Sometimes, the other person walking the dog will act first and cross before you attempt to do so. Occasionally, they will actually turn around and back track to find another route to walk along. Now that is one smart, responsible human!

To Sum Up

Do your best to avoid confrontation when you walk your dog. Always err on the side of caution. It just makes sense to do everything you can to prevent a potential incident. And, as I said at the outset, defensive walking is like defensive driving.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  


DOG PARK SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

I wonder if you realize that when taking your pet to a dog park safety precautions are extremely important. It’s not enough for you to be an observant and responsible dog “owner.” Primarily it’s about what other pet parents do or do not do. And, what their dogs do or don’t do. 

From A Vet’s Perspective

Any veterinarian will tell you that canines frequently suffer injuries while off leash in an environment with dogs they’ve never met before. Surprisingly, most humans believe that dogs instinctively know what to do when sharing a common space. However, that’s just not so. Medical professionals also point out that dog park behavior awareness dramatically helps to avoid emotional and physical traumas that can range from relatively minor to very serious.

Dog park safety precautions and behavior awareness are vital in order to avoid injuries and emotional trauma to your pet
Dog park safety precautions and behavior awareness are vital in order to avoid injuries and emotional trauma to your pet

Not A Big Fan

No. I admit that, generally speaking, I am not a big fan of dog parks. As a pet sitter and dog walker myself, the only exception I will take a canine, or two, to a dog park is when it is empty! And, apparently, I am not alone. Dog behavior professionals tend to agree. Here’s why.

Dog Park Safety Precautions – The Dogs

The following two points are worth noting. The reason being they can apply to any canine that is allowed to roam free. Firstly, many of the dogs have not been properly trained in social behavior. And, secondly, when a dog feels overwhelmed and stressed it is much less likely to obey commands. 

Dog Park Safety Precautions – The “Owners”

Very often pet “owners” pass the time at the dog park talking to other humans or else reading and texting. They don’t really pay attention to what is going on.

This means that they are not properly supervising their dogs. And, if they are unable to correct their pets quickly enough, they won’t be able to prevent an incident from occurring in the first place.

Dog Park Behavior Awareness

This short list is a warning to each and every pet guardian at the dog park. These unacceptable behaviors that a dog may exhibit apply not only to everyone else’s dog, but to yours as well. If you are observant and prepared, you can avoid the escalation of a situation. Similarly, you may well be able to prevent an incident from starting in the first place.

over excitement

playing rough

rudeness (intrusion)

bullying

overt aggression

To Sum Up

Please remember that when you visit a dog park, you do not know all the owners there. And, logically, you cannot possibly know all the dogs there, either. As I’ve just mentioned, there are risks involved. That said, if you feel uncomfortable about taking your pet to the dog park, you can always come up with alternatives. Safe socializing and exercising can be done in a number of different ways.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

DISTRACTED DOG WALKERS

This Is About You, Not Fido

This distracted dog walker should change her habits and focus more on pet safety
This distracted dog walker should change her habits and focus more on
pet safety

Pet safety is a huge priority of mine so when I see distracted dog walkers act a certain way, it really concerns me. When you are outdoors exercising a canine, being in control helps to keep your four-legged companion safe. 

It pays to stay focused while you’re out walking dogs and that also includes jogging with them. Furthermore, I’d like to point this out, too.  If you are not looking or listening properly, not being attentive and fully aware of your surroundings, it’s probably time to make some changes.

Definition Of A Distracted Dog Walker

It’s about dog walkers being distracted and how to stay focused. For that purpose I have made a short but really important list of what takes your mind off what should be your priority.

  • cell phones 
  • ear buds 
  • the mail 
  • neighbors and passers-by

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m mentioning these seemingly unimportant things. What do they have to do with safety? Well, here’s what can happen.

First Fact: You use your phone to talk, text or read when you walk your dog.

Question: If you absolutely have to do any of the above, how should you do so safely?

Answer: Step away from the road and hold your dog on a very short leash. Look around you to be aware of your surroundings, and remain stationary.

This next one isn’t exactly a dog walking situation but I wanted to mention it here because I have witnessed many single family home owners doing this.

Second Fact: You let your dog out in your front yard off-leash to potty while you walk to the curbside to pick up your mail. And, as you walk back towards the house, you’re looking at leaflets and envelopes.

Question: You do this all the time. Why shouldn’t you?

Answer: In my world, this is taking an unnecessary risk. You really do need to stay focused. Go out front with your dog on a leash, let him potty, then take him back inside. Now go and pick up your mail.    

Third Fact: You use ear buds to listen to music. 

Question: Is it okay to have the volume turned down low?

Answer: No, it is not okay. This is yet another distracting habit dog walkers have. Leave the ear buds at home. You need eyes to see AND ears to hear what’s going on around you. Beware of cyclists, traffic, verbal warnings, and so on.    

Fourth Fact: You stop during your walk to talk to neighbors and passers-by.

Question: How can this possibly be a potential problem?

Answer: You’re right. It’s quite unlikely. However, make sure your dog is on a short (unretractable) leash and that you stay well clear of traffic. Also, step out of the way of other walkers, joggers and cyclists.

To Sum Up

Dog walking warrants staying fully focused.  That means focused on your dog. Not on yourself. So, please think about the examples mentioned here. Make some changes if that will make your pleasure outing a little safer. Safer for your faithful companion. And safer for you.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!