The start of a new year is all about resolutions and making changes to our daily life. This has always been a great trend, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
When we think about resolutions for the new year, we think about how we may get ourselves into a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally. This is a great resolution, but if we add our beloved furry companions into the mix it can make for a happy and fulfilling year for both guardian and pet.
Making resolutions for our pets does not need to be overwhelming and just making a slight change in your dog or cat’s routine can make a huge difference. Below are a few changes that you can make in your pet’s life to ensure that will be healthy and happy going into the New Year.
Dogs and cats look forward to mealtime and it’s important as guardians to make sure they are getting the right amount and nutrition. Reading the label at the back of your pet’s food bag will help determine the approximate amount of food they should be getting. If you are not sure about the feeding amount talking to your veterinarian about diet and food choice is the best option.
Dogs and cats that are in the wild spend time during the day forging for food. Just because your pet is domesticated, they should be allowed to practice natural behaviours, which can be done easily by adding some enrichment items into their routine. Some great ideas are listed below:
- Food puzzles
- Allows for dogs to sniff and figure out how to get the food out. For cats’ food puzzles allows them to use their natural hunting instincts to work the food out by using their paws.
- Lick mats/Kongs
- Lick mats are silicone mats that have designs and different grooves. You can put their favourite wet food or other pet-friendly food on it and then freeze the mat for a tasty satisfying treat.
- A Kong is a rubber toy with a small hole at the bottom. You can stuff their favourtie treats or wet food inside and allow your dog to figure out how to work the food out.
- Interactive Treat Dispensers: This type of interactive toy is a fun way for your pet to use their paws to get treats or their kibble out of a small hole.
Physical exercise is a great way for your pet to stay active and healthy. For your dog, this means going for long walks in a different area or taking up hiking.
Adding in more walks will allow your dog to go on a Sniffari. This means allowing dogs to sniff to their heart’s content and not pulling them away from interesting smells. Dogs have a million more olfactory sensors than humans, which means their nose is constantly working overtime. Sniffing for dogs is natural to them and will cater to their mental and physical needs.
If you have a cat, staying active is just as important, especially if you have an indoor cat. Adding in more play in their routine will do just that. This can be done by playing with a feather wand and allowing them to chase it back and forth, under blankets and over chairs. Remember, it is all about getting creative and knowing what gets your cat moving.
Another option is getting automatic toys that move on their own. This will get your cat moving, chasing, and pouncing. Some automatic toys that may interest your cat are:
- Hexbug Nano
- Automatic Laser Pointer
- Cat’s Meow Deluxe
Learning New Tricks
Training with your pets is a great way to build the animal-human bond and make that connection stronger with your pet. Teaching your pet, a new trick is rewarding and will have your pet happy for that extra one-on-one.
Enrolling your dog in a class is a great way for them to socialize and or learn new behaviours that will help strengthen your relationship and keep your dog active. Some great ideas for dog classes are basic obedience classes, dog social playgroups, and agility. All these classes will mentally stimulate your dog’s mind and challenge them in many ways.
If you have a dog that may be less confident or may not do well in a group class setting doing one-on-one training with a trainer is a great option or a virtual class. If you are interested in joining classes Georgian Triangle Humane Society has upcoming classes starting in April. Be sure to check out ghts.ca for current and new classes that are rolling out this year.
The above changes are just some ideas on how to keep your pet healthy, fit, and active in the New Year. The above steps are slight changes and can make a world of a difference for your pet.
Meet Erika Ehrenreich, the Behaviour Specialist with the GTHS
As the Behaviour Specialist with the GTHS, Erika’s roles include assessing dogs that enter our facility and ensuring that they are set up for success before adoption. She is part of the GTHS dog school where she teachings Adult Basic Obedience and Puppy Playgroup. Erika also specializes in behaviour modification where she supports clients by implementing humane approaches to help change their dogs’ behaviours.
Erika’s love for animals started at a young age, where you could often find her riding her bike around town with a pack of neighbourhood dogs in tow or just at home with her abundance of animals.
She is a Certified Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and has served in various animal care positions. Her most recent work was also in a shelter environment where she focused on canine and feline training using positive reinforcement. Erika has experience training a variety of dogs, with her primary focus and expertise on those that display behaviour issues. Erika is a Fear-Free Shelter graduate and a strong advocate for the humane care and protection of all animals.