7 Tips for a Better Connection With Your Pet
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Make an Intentional Effort
Farm cats and dogs often take on dual roles.They likely serve both as in-resident livestock herders or mousers on the clock and as loyal family companions during off-duty hours. Although unlimited amounts of outdoor time may make acreage pets the envy of city cats and dogs everywhere, your working animals could be missing out on a key need: bonding time with their favorite human—you.
“You may be near your pet throughout the day, but you really need to give your pet spans of undivided attention each day,” says Alex Johnson, senior designer and enrichment specialist at Purina. “It’s as essential to pet welfare as proper nutrition and veterinary care.”
Johnson says a closer connection between pets and owners can reduce stressors, improve behavior, and even discourage animals from straying from the farm. Ready to take your canine and feline friendships to the next level? Adopt these relationship-boosting methods.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
Make sure to give your pet plenty of one-on-one time as determined by breed and your pet’s personality. Choose activities that not only promote interaction but also allow for both physical and emotional contact. For instance, when the two of you play a game, make sure to reach out and touch your pet every few rounds and dole out praise when it does a good job. Your pet will associate these positive experiences with your presence. “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality,” Johnson says.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
We all know the feeling of a lopsided friendship: You extend most of the hang-out invitations while rarely receiving one in return. Pets face similar experiences when owners always determine when play sessions occur. To help your pet feel valued, let it initiate play every so often and hit pause on your work to play its game of choice.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
Rewarding good behavior with treats tells your pet that it’s behaving well, you find the interaction fun, and you would like the behavior repeated. Food, extended play sessions, vocal affirmations like “good boy,” and petting can all be classified as “treats,” Johnson says. If your pet is misbehaving, simply end the play session and walk away. The pet will be disappointed the activity ended and will work to avoid the negative experience in the future. Yelling at or hitting your pet can cause confusion, anxiety, and avoidance.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
Learning your pet’s body language, or cues, plays a key role in developing mutual respect and an understanding of what your pet is communicating to you. For base-level knowledge, research the breed’s cues, then observe your pet’s individual behavior. Note when and in what context it expresses behaviors and how those cues and abilities change as the pet ages.
“Pay attention to your pet’s limitations and create a vocabulary in your mind for cues your pet understands,” Johnson says. A pet’s cues, such as tail movement, stance, and pupil dilation, can help an owner respect a pet’s boundaries, choose enjoyable activities, and ensure the pet, in turn, understands the cues the owner gives.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
Just because a skill is inherent to your pet’s breed, don’t assume your animal will be a natural from birth. Professional training helps both pets and owners manage expectations and communicate effectively. This is especially true for working farm pets who may need to refine instinctive behaviors like herding, Johnson says.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
Natural Behavior Toys
Toys can facilitate pet-human bonding during play sessions, but they also provide entertainment for your pet when you’re away. The best toys tap into your animal’s natural behaviors—chasing and retrieving for dogs or pouncing and stalking for cats. Natural behavior play is especially important for indoor-only pets who may not otherwise flex those inherent skills.
“I think there is indirect bonding when you provide pets with new toys,” Johnson says. “They see you give them a new toy, and they know they are well cared for. You can only benefit from the time and effort you put into your pet.”
This slideshow highlights great toys like this, for both dogs and cats.Date Published: November 7, 2018Date Updated: November 9, 2018
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