We know the relationship between yourself and your furry friend is pretty special. After all, no one knows them like you do. And besides, you’re their favourite human! But like with any other relationship, maintaining that unique bond with your dog or cat takes a little effort and time.
So whether you’ve just welcomed a puppy into your life, have adopted a senior cat or would simply like to improve the connection with your pet, here are some tips for a long-lasting bond.
1. Remember to give them your full attention
We’re all guilty of taking our pets for granted at times. With today’s busy lives, sometimes we have no choice but to multi-task. But next time you catch yourself looking at your phone too much while throwing that ball, or absorbed in that TV show when your pet is asking for belly rubs, take a moment to really be present. Our pets are more perceptive than we give them credit for, and like the good little psychics they are, they know exactly when they’ve got our full attention.
2. Learn to read the signs
Dogs and cats may not be able to talk about their feelings, but our feline and canine friends are not short on personality traits. And finding the time to observe them will help you get attuned to your pet’s likes and dislikes.
This means paying attention to their body language, the games they enjoy and the situations that can make them feel stressed.
So while you may have a strong desire to cuddle your newly adopted cat a million times a day (we can’t blame you!), the sensible thing to do may be to give them a little space, especially while they are adjusting to your home. Cats love hiding places, so making sure they have enough options (like cat trees and cat caves) will cover one of their most basic needs.
3. Keep a routine
Animals take comfort in consistency, so it’s important to create some structure around your pet’s day as this will help them thrive. On the other hand, if your pet’s days are unpredictable, it would make sense they could grow confused or become unpredictable themselves.
Establishing a routine around feeding, grooming and walks can make life much easier for you and your pet. But remember, having a schedule doesn’t mean you shouldn’t switch things up a little to surprise your pet. This can be as easy as varying their walks or rewarding them with new treats.
4. Teach them something new
Mental stimulation is crucial for the wellbeing of your pet, and it can be a great way to improve the connection you have with them. This can be anything from teaching your dog a new trick to training your cat to follow a few basic commands.
Don’t know where to start? Make them work for their food! Both dogs and cats are food-motivated, so we can use treats as a reward for learning commands like ‘fetch’, ‘sit’, or ‘shake’. The key is in being patient, keeping sessions fun (no longer than a few minutes) and using lots of positive reinforcement.
Using both vocal and visual signs works best. So, if you’re teaching your pooch to give their paw, hold out an empty hand with your palm facing up while saying the word ‘shake’. Over time and with repetition, your pet will learn to follow the cue.
As you can see, these are just some of the ways you can make time with your pet more meaningful. But as every pet is different, the possibilities are endless! So if, at the end of the day, what you both love most is to snuggle up on the couch, we won’t be the ones to stop you.