Life is busy, sometimes chaotic, often stressful. For you as well as your mutts and kits!
While we’re coping with our schedules, we may not realise how much our pets absorb of this hustle and bustle, and how it affects them.
Chaos can cause pets to feel stressed, and “in an attempt to cope with this stress, they may start to develop unwanted behaviours.” warns the Pet Food Industry of South Africa (PFISA)
To avoid ‘naughtiness’ and strained pet relationships, it helps to have a regular routine that you stick to, not only because it makes everyone feel more secure, but because it will help you check all the boxes as an amazing pet parent.
“Setting a routine,” endorses PFISA, “will force you to consider all of the vital aspects of your pet’s daily life and plot them out, ensuring all their species-specific needs are being met”
Here are a few areas they suggest you regulate.
- Exercise – regular exercise is not only physically healthy, but it also makes for happier pets. Whether it’s playing with a kitten or taking your pup for a run, they’ll appreciate the movement as much as they do the attention. You may not be able to do this at the same time every day, but if you create a ritual around these sessions, they’ll know that It’s playtime, whatever time of day it is.
- Mealtimes. Tummies are like eternal clocks, ticking away. Feeding your pets the same amount of food in the same clean food bowl, in the same part of your home at the same time of day goes a long way to helping them feel healthy, safe and secure. Remember also that they ALWAYS need fresh, clean drinking water available.
- Toileting. As with tummies, so with bowels and bladders. Your regularly fed and exercised pet will need to relieve themselves regularly, too. Learn the frequency so that they do not ‘hold it in’ while waiting to go outside where they prefer to toilet. Holding it in can, in addition to being extremely uncomfortable and even painful for them, lead to unwanted and avoidable vet visits and serious health complications like chronic bladder inflammation or constipation.
- Toys and safe spaces. You may have a wild schedule, but they’ll always have their blanky, chew toys, and favourite cushion. Keep these in a spot they can call their own. It can be very comforting to them when you leave the house or during changes like moving or a holiday. This is especially helpful during a change of routine, for example, suddenly working from home instead of at the office, or going away on holiday.
- Training. Whether at home or in the park, on holiday or on the couch, the same rules apply. It’s important for your pets to know boundaries and respect them as far as possible, and it’s your whole family’s duty to reinforce this lovingly, patiently and helpfully. “Consistency in training is one of the most important elements to ensure success,” PFISA comments, “so be sure that the entire family, and even guests, are giving your pet the same feedback and direction about their behaviour, to entrench boundaries as quickly as possible.”
- Other aspects. Depending on your own daily tasks, you can create consistency in other ways, too. “Consider applying consistent bed and waking times, regular play and training times, daily quiet and grooming time etc.
Beyond the basics – routine management when going on and returning from holidays
A holiday is as good as a change, to turn the adage on its head. Change can upset our loyal, loving pets, so please take care when breaking your carefully carved pet routine for outings that may last a few days or more.
“Some pets are very attached to their routine and the 1001 little rituals that structure their daily life the rest of the year; they might feel lost,” the Weenect blog advises. “Make sure to pack the little things that make them feel like home: their usual food, their basket, their toys.”
“A few days before going home,” they continue, “bring back certain habits: morning and evening going out hours, walk conditions (put the leash back on)” to make the transitions easier.
What tips and tricks do you use to create more consistency for your pets? Tell us and the community of dog mad, cat crazy pet people over on Facebook.
Inspired? Here are 20 ways to be the best pet mom or dad this year.
In a mad rush? See if you have ticked these quick pet care tips off the list.