Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

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Yes, you read that right. Cats… walking… on leashes! While it might sound funny, the truth is that taking your cat out for a stroll around the yard or neighborhood can be a great way to get them some exercise, stave off obesity, and reduce boredom.

But how can you get your cat comfortable walking on a leash? Follow these steps.

1. Vaccinate and Protect Your Cat

If you plan to be taking your cat outside for walks, make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and protected from fleas and ticks.

2. Purchase a Harness and Leash

When it comes to walking a cat, a harness is the most popular choice. Harnesses are comfortable, secure, and give you control without putting pressure on your cat’s throat or neck. As for a leash, any type will do, but consider getting one that keeps your cat within 6 feet of you.

3. Familiarize Your Cat With the Harness

Leave the harness on your cat’s bed or near their food for several days. Hold the harness and let your cat sniff it, and offer them a treat when they do. Touch your cat’s back with the harness or gently drape it over their neck and shoulders, then offer a treat.

RELATED STORY: How to Train a Cat

4. Fit the Harness

After several days of familiarization, you can try putting the harness on your cat while offering treats and praise. You should be able to fit two fingers (no more, no less) between your cat’s body and the harness. Leave the harness on for only a few minutes at a time, continuing to offer praise and treats. Repeat this training daily for several days. If your cat stays relaxed with the harness on, increase the time that they wear it. If the cat ever gets upset, remove the harness right away and try again later.

5. Attach the Leash

Once your cat is relaxed wearing the harness, you can attach the leash. Let your cat drag it around while you offer treats and praise. Keep an eye on your cat to make sure that the leash doesn’t get stuck or tangled. Repeat this for several days.

6. Walk Around Inside

Once your cat is comfortable dragging around the leash, pick it up and offer a treat. Let your cat guide you around, going wherever they please. Keep the leash loose and offer praise and treats. Practice this for a few days.

RELATED STORY: What Can Affect a Cat’s Lifespan?

7. Encourage Your Cat to Follow You

This one takes patience, but it will be worth it once you’re outside and your cat is cruising confidently by your side.

  • Encourage your cat to go where you go by using a calm, positive voice.
  • Apply gentle pressure to the leash, but never tug or yank. If and when the cat turns in your direction or follows you, offer treats and praise.
  • Drop a treat on the ground and let your cat eat it, then return to the far end of the leash. When the cat comes to where you are, offer another treat and praise. Repeat this as many times as it takes.

8. Head Outside

You’ve put the work in, and now it’s time to head outside. Always attach the harness and leash before you walk through the door; this will prevent your cat from running away. Start in a quiet spot and let your cat explore with you following behind them. Once your cat seems relaxed, you can start guiding them where you want to go.

9. Regular Walks

Once your cat gets used to walking, chances are they will love it and want to go as often as possible. To avoid your cat pestering you to go outside, walk them at the same time every day, and never take your cat out if they are crying or bothering you. Instead, wait for your cat to quiet down and then take them outside. Your cat will soon learn that being quiet, calm, and patient will earn them a trip to the great outdoors.

Do you walk your cat? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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Is Your Dog Bored? 5 Dog Jobs Your Dog Can Do

Dogs are meant to live active lives. Dog jobs keep that activity alive. Their wild ancestors spent the majority of their time hunting and scavenging, and over time domesticated breeds began working alongside humans in hunting, farming, and protection capacities.

Today, many dogs live sedentary lives that involve no work whatsoever, and in many cases, very little activity. Maybe your pup gets an hour walk in the morning and then spends the rest of the day lounging around the house.

Sound boring? It can be, and boredom combined with excess energy often leads to behavioral issues, such as anxiety and destructive chewing. If you want to help your dog release some of that energy and live a happier, more fulfilled life, consider putting them to work! Here are 5 jobs that your dog can do.

1. Have Your Dog Carry a Backpack

Going on a walk or a hike? One dog job is to put your dog to work by outfitting them with a dog backpack filled with whatever supplies you need (poop bags, treats, water, etc.) Dog backpacks are perfectly safe when fitted correctly and loaded with the appropriate weight for your dog’s size (check with your veterinarian). It’s one of those dog jobs that both you and your dog can benefit from on long adventures!

If this job is the right fit, your dog will feel like they are performing an important task by carrying a haul. Your dog should be both mentally and physically stimulated, and that’s what you want in a job for a dog.

2. Teach Your Dog to Help Around the House

Do you sometimes forget to turn off the light before getting into bed? You can teach your dog to turn it off for you.

Do you sometimes leave the front door open after walking inside with an armful of groceries? You can teach your dog to shut it.

How can you do this? With a training method known as targeting.

How to Target Train Your Dog for Household Tasks

First, teach your dog to “touch” a target, such as a post-it note.

1. Hold the post-it note a couple of inches from your dog’s nose.

2. When they learn forward to sniff or inspect it and you see them make contact with the post-it note, say “touch!” and offer a treat. Timing is incredibly important; you should offer the treat the instant that your dog touches the post-it so that they will know what’s earning them the treat.

3. Repeat this exercise until your dog catches on.

4. Once your dog understands targeting, you can place the target (the post-it note, for example) anywhere you’d like, such as on a light switch.

Repeat the above exercise and over time make the target smaller and smaller by tearing off small pieces of the paper and change the command word from “touch” to “lights.” Once your dog reliably touches the light switch, remove the target altogether.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Dog Safety Around the Home

3. Play Retrieving Games

Many breeds — such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Newfoundlands, and Cocker Spaniels — were primarily bred to retrieve birds or other prey for hunters. A lot of dogs still perform these duties today, but those who do not — and don’t have another outlet for their energy — may become anxious and high-strung.

However, you don’t have to become a hunter to satisfy your dog’s natural instincts. Instead, teach your dog to “fetch,” and then take them to new and interesting locations that will help them tap into their innate talents. For example, throw a stick in a river or a stuffed toy in a field. Just make sure that your dog has good recall if you plan to take your game into the wild.

4. Train for Therapy Dog Work

Therapy dogs travel with their owners to places like nursing homes, hospitals, and schools to offer support and affection. Friendly, well-socialized, and healthy dogs are the best fit for therapy dog work, and after training and certification, you can find volunteer opportunities in your area.

Your dog will not only be mentally stimulated, they’ll also do a lot of good. For more information, check out the PetCareRx article “How to Get Therapy Dog Certification for Your Dog.”

RELATED STORY: How to Teach Your Dog to Kiss and Snuggle

5. Take Some Classes

Training classes will put your dog to work as they learn new skills, and in doing so offer plenty of mental and physical stimulation. There are loads of dog training classes to choose from outside of basic obedience. Once your dog masters obedience training, check out other ways to challenge your dog, including tracking (nose work), agility training, and more.

Does your dog “work?” Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.

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5 Ways To Cure Your Cat’s Boredom

 


Many people assume that cats are independent creatures who have little need for stimulation. The reality is that cats are social and complex animals who can bore just as easily as dogs, and if left with nothing to zap their energy or exercise their minds, they may become anxious, aggressive, or destructive. Whether you are looking for ways to occupy your cat when you’re away from the house or activities that will reduce attention-seeking behaviors when you are home, check out these five cures for a bored cat.

1. Rotate Stimulating Toys

Has your cat’s fuzzy mouse been collecting dust in the corner for a week? Has their squeaky bird fallen silent under the sofa? The best way to keep your cat engaged with and stimulated by their toys is to switch them out regularly and introduce new toys when you can. In addition, you should save your cat’s favorite toys for times when you really want to keep them occupied; for example, if you have to be out of the house for several hours or need some uninterrupted time at home. Look for toys that will tap into your cat’s desire to hunt, and consider trying a puzzle toy that will require your cat to problem solve in order to catch their “prey.” You can even make your own puzzle toy at home out of a cardboard box — check out our DIY instructable!

RELATED STORY: 14 Essential Products For Every Cat Parent

2. Cat Scratchers and Condos

Cat scratchers and condos are two of the most popular products purchased by cat parents, and for good reason; they satisfy two of a cat’s natural instincts: their desire to scratch, and their desire for privacy and security. Cat scratchers keep your cat from shredding the sofa or drapes by giving them a surface especially designed for nail dragging, and cat condos offer your cat a cozy place to curl up. Try making your own scratchers and condos at home, and if your cat gets bored of those after a while, make new ones! After all, variety is the spice of life.

3. Captivating Critters

Cats love to watch animals, whether it’s other cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, or fish. Give your cat a show that will last for hours by setting up a bird or squirrel feeder outside of their favorite window. An aquarium filled with fish can also fascinate your cat; just make sure to set it up in a safe place where your cat won’t be able to go fishin’ or accidentally tumble in.

RELATED STORY: Crack The Cat Language Barrier: Learn To Understand Your Cat

4. Meow-Worthy Media

Have you ever caught your kitty peeking over your shoulder at the TV? Or maybe your feline’s furry ears perk up when the radio turns on? Just like people and dogs, cats are often amused by television and tunes, and if left alone, having some visual or auditory stimulation can ease their anxiety, too. There are even DVDs on the market made especially for cats that include videos of animals such as rodents, birds, and fish.

5. Wear Them Out With A Walk

A tired cat is less likely to be bored, and one way to wear your cat out is by taking them on a walk. Yes, that’s right; plenty of felines have learned the satisfaction that comes from taking a stroll, and yours can too. All you’ll need is a leash, a cat harness, and an ID tag. It may take a little practice to get your cat used to walking on a leash — and used to the great outdoors if they’ve always been an indoor cat — but with consistency and tasty treats, your cat will eventually hit their stride.

How do you cure your cat’s boredom? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 

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