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Ten Fun Ways to Show Your Pet You Care

Happy Pet Appreciation Week!  To honor this event, we encourage you to take some time to contemplate the comfort, joy, fun, and companionship your furry family members bring to your life.  Express your feelings of thankfulness or gratitude for any and all pets – your own or those loved by someone you know (or even by someone you don’t know), stray or accommodated, past or present.

One of the best ways to show you care is to become an expert in communications with your pet. The language barrier between animals and humans can make it hard to tell whether our gestures of recognition and affection are fully appreciated.  That’s why knowing how our cats and dogs behave to communicate their needs and feelings can be one of the best ways to convey our love and thanks.  Not only that, it can also strengthen your relationship by enabling  better understanding and trust.

Look below for some ways to meaningfully communicate with your pets and let them know that you care for them by using their very own language! Included are some ways of acknowledging the service done by pets in general and also some ways of caring for your pet in less personal and maybe even less enjoyable ways, though more beneficial in the long run.

Personally…

  1. Eye Contact.  For many animals, eye contact can be confrontational, so make sure you and your pet are in a state of relaxation when you want to have this feelings jam.  
    – For dogs, you want to speak softly and stroke them gently while you gaze into each other’s eyes.  This is an eye-hug, which releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin in both you and your dog.  
    – With cats, eye contact is another story.  Cats blink slowly and bow their head as a testament to their trust in you, as it is a vulnerable action.  When your furry feline friend approaches you, it may do well to demonstrate your trust in them in return by baring the top of your head to them and slow-blinking.  This will likely bring on a head-bump.

  2. Sleeping, Napping, or Lying Together is also a vulnerable act for your pet, and demonstrates trust.

  3. Petting.  Most pets like to be pet and have specific areas and ways of being pet that they prefer.  Pay attention to how your cat or dog reacts to being pet in different areas.  Some breeds of both families like to be pet on the stomach, but also watch for when your furry family member might be thinking enough is enough.  We’ve heard that dogs and cats also really like being scratched on and around their ears.  What may be news is that they might not like being hugged as much as we like to give them hugs.  
    – For some dogs, leaning on you can be a display of trust, and thus they may get the message if you give them a lean or two right back.  
    – Cats have a little bit more of a complex communication system when it comes to petting.  When your cat rubs itself nose-to-tail on you, it is supposed to transfer pheromones that communicate their ownership of you to other cats.  Therefore, petting your cat nose-to-tail can inform your cat that you are happy to be owned by them.  Furthermore, cats like to head-butt, which can sometimes hurt, but is also a sign of respect.

  4. Training.  Cats, in addition to dogs, can in fact be trained!  Not only can the process increase your and your pet’s mutual understanding, but the positive reinforcement and rewards system can also reinforce your pet’s trust in you as their provider of food as well as a source of affirmation.

  5. Playing.  Being a part of your cat’s or dog’s playtime is another great way to build trust, since your pet can also begin to associate you with fun or a time when they get to hone their focus and hunting skills.  Technology has also developed to the point where there are some automatic and timed toys your pet can play with while you are away, in case yours is a cat or a dog that gets bored or despondent during that time.  If you have some friends with pets, and everyone has a history of getting along, a playdate can be a good idea, too!

  6. Feeding.  Food can be a great motivator as in training, but it can also be a great way to show appreciation and affection.  We’ve heard that feeding by hand can not only contribute to bonding but can also decrease some of your pet’s (usually dogs’) aggression surrounding food.  There are also some foods that all cats, dogs, and humans can eat, and so it could also be a fun tradition to cook a special  meal once in a while to eat all together.

  7. Learn How They Communicate.  There is definitely more in terms of  what different behaviors and actions can convey.  Being able to recognize and then respect and respond appropriately when your pet is distressed or playful can really reinforce the loving relationship you already have with each other.

Generally…

8. Grooming/Maintenance.  Your pet may not enjoy it when they have to get their nails clipped, their ears cleaned, and their coat brushed, or when they have to be taken to get vaccines, but they may enjoy some of the comfort it can provide them afterwards.

9. Pet Insurance.  Similarly, presenting your pet with an insurance card may not produce a gleam in their eyes, but it could get them treatment later on when they really need relief from pain.

10. Volunteering at or Donating to Your Local Shelter.  If you don’t currently have a pet, but have wonderful memories of a pet you had in the past, or if you just love animals in general, there are plenty of opportunities for you!  Try donating to a local shelter or spending some time as a volunteer cleaning facilities or walking shelter pets.  You can also purchase items that an animal shelter needs on a regular basis (things like blankets and towels, food, dishes, crates, etc.).  These actions can be equally rewarding for both you and the animals you appreciate.

We know you don’t always have the time or the resources to make grand gestures in expression of your feelings for your pet, but we hope some of the above might be able to worm their way into your daily routines to enrich the relationship you already have with your pet!  If over time your newly developed sensitivities to your cat’s or dog’s feelings and needs pick up on extra irritability, there could be a pressing reason, though one we might not be able to see from the outside.  Keep watch and give us a call at 903-807-0887 if this is something you ever do detect!