It’s National Pet Month!
Pets help reduce stress, improve your health, and bring joy to your life. It’s no surprise then, that a study done in 2016 shows that 98% of pet owners agree their pet is an important part of their family. National Pet Month is a great time to commemorate the connection you share. We asked around and found great ways pet owners and vets from around the U.S. recommend celebrating with your furry pals. This April, set some time aside to hang out with your best friend.
- A grooming session is always a good start to bonding with your pet. You’ve probably witnessed many a kitty bath, as cats are particularly attentive in this regard. Even so, those little hooked tongues can sometimes miss places or snarls. Don’t be fooled, both cats and dogs need proper grooming, especially our long-haired friends. Sometimes pets can seem skittish of the tools we use or the very act of brushing, but creating a safe space for them with lots of treats at hand can make the experience pleasurable for both of you.
Take the time to start small, introducing grooming tools with lots of treats and positive words. A surprise mat-removing session will probably end up unpleasant on both ends, again, it’s best to create a safe routine. Wait until your pet is already relaxed; after eating or a long walk. Once a pet gets used to the idea of brushing, it can actually be really relaxing to them. Start with short sessions and stop when they seem uncomfortable. Dole out treats as you switch tools or at the end of the session. Getting into a routine can benefit both you and them; no giant snow-drifts of hair in room corners and happy, mat-free pets can result from regular brushings. And the time spent together reinforces your connection. Talk to your vet about what they suggest for grooming tools for your individual pets!
- Walks, walks, walks. Spending time outside with your canine companions is one of the best ways you both benefit from the relationship. According to the Animal Foundation, walking with your dog stops them from getting bored, it’s a behavior training opportunity, and even more, it gets both of you out and about while helping to grow the bond you have with your dog. Cesar Millan believes that, “The most important aspect of the walk, when done properly, is that it establishes your roles in the pack, with the humans as the leaders and the dogs as the followers. This connection will help with every other aspect of your relationship with your dog.”
Just like with humans, diet and exercise go hand in hand. Make sure your pet is on the right nutrition plan for their health, age, and any allergies they might have. Talk to your vet about food choices as your pet ages and what would work best for you both as far as exercise. Get out, get walking, get healthy, and bond with your pet!
- Find places you can take your dog with you. Most cities will have at least a couple dog friendly places to visit with your pet, spend some time researching places it could be appropriate to bring them along. It’s important to take into consideration the temperament of your pet before you take them any place new. Remember, you’re their advocate in the outside world, not just their owner. Take note if your dog isn’t comfortable in a situation, perhaps they’re barking incessantly or trembling. As their social support, do what you can to make them comfortable, even if it’s leaving the area. Always confirm your dog is welcome before a visit or outing, people with allergies or certain restaurants might not enjoy our canine companions popping in as much as we may think. However, some places have dog-specific treats, (like Puppaccinos!) so while you’re out and about, scope out places you might think offer Fido-friendly treats and stop by next time with your pup. Dogs do like to go with us to see our world, so make sure it’s a safe place!
- Reach out and try something new! Join a Meetup group or start a “Pack” Hiking Day where you know your dog will have friends and fit in! Social media is a great place to start looking for groups or like-minded people. Celebrate the unique identity of your pet by finding a crowd where they feel comfortable. Some dog parks or dog play areas have small or large dog days so you can let your pooch romp around and enjoy themselves, without worrying about their size. Always make sure your dog is up to date on their flea, tick, and heartworm medicines before visiting any high dog-population areas. Talk to your vet if you’re not sure! You can also go to dog socialization classes and find a good match to set up playdates with. Your pup will appreciate the friend and chance to work on their ‘people’ skills.
It’s a great month for pet owners all over the U.S., and a chance to start a tradition with your furry best friends. From a new grooming routine to finding a place you can take them out with you, celebrating your pet is bound to be fun. Whether it’s sitting on top of a mountain after a long hike, brunching together, or curling up on the couch after a playdate, your pets are sure to be grateful for the extra attention. Keep it going year round and the bond you share will only keep growing.