August is the month we associate with back to school so let’s talk about “school” for your pets because well-trained pets make for a happy home!
Indoor cats and kittens should be trained to use a litter box as soon as they come home. Our feline friends usually want to use the box without training but when they are new to our homes, we need to help set them up for success by letting them slowly acclimate to the new sounds and smells and activities, and ideally, in a room where their litter box will remain. Even if their box will be moved, it will now have their own scent and they will seek it out. Keep in mind, kittens generally need a little bit longer to get used to using the litter box rather than the most convenient spot when the urge hits them. It is always easier to create the good habits than to break the bad ones. Most cats need exercise, games to play and interaction with humans and other cats, if possible. Most cats really do enjoy a playmate to chase and to snuggle with. Give cats safe spaces to hide and grab a cat nap, plenty of toys to paw around and scratching approved surfaces to care for their claws.
Puppies and adult dogs can benefit from classes that help socialize them and teach them basic commands. Many trainers will also work with you in your home or via zoom to train your dog, whether a new pet to the home or your family dog who needs further training or is having some behavior problems. Often, the training can also be for the humans. We need to know how to help our canine friends be the best dogs ever! Just like kids, dogs like to play and can be destructive when bored. Many dogs benefit from interactive toys to keep them busy throughout the day. A good doggie day care can be a great option as well. And in the end, not much beats an easy walk at the end of the day – just my dog and me on the quiet street as he sniffs and explores and I tell him about my day and always remind him how much I love him. The time is good for us both and is one of my favorite routines! Always consider the heat before heading out for play or a walk with your dog. They cannot sweat and move heat out of their bodies like we can. Older dogs and certain breeds, or those with preexisting health conditions, are more prone to heat stroke. Remember, they are wearing a fur coat and are trapped with the increasing heat in their bodies so let them enjoy the AC when it is too hot outside for them to be comfortable.
And remember, when your pets have an emergency, we are here for you and for them when you need us… 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Shana D Richardson, PhD