McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Opinion

August 23, 2012

PAWS - Exercise your pets

McALESTER — All animals need exercise. Cats need to play, dogs need to run, even hamsters need to spin on their wheels. According to American Humane here is what you can do to make sure your cat or dog gets enough exercise and reaps the rewards of this healthy habit.

Because cats don’t run up to their owners with balls in their mouths, many people assume that they don’t want or need to be played with at all. That’s not true. Cats need exercise and lots of mental stimulation and without it, they can get bored and develop behavior problems. They like to chase things because they are natural hunters. It would be a good idea to challenge them and excite them by inventing games where they can hunt imaginary prey.

The best toy is a fishing pole-type that has feathers, streamers or other items attached to it with a string. Remember to make sure they don’t have any loose parts that the cat can choke on. Cats will love it if you act out the movements of a bird or insect flying overhead or a small animal scurrying across the floor by moving the toy in short, jerky motions. Be sure to allow the cat to catch it once in a while so it doesn’t get bored.

Playing with your cat for ten minutes at a time will provide enjoyment for both of you and will also create a inseparable bond between you and your kitty.

Even with fenced yards to provide a safe, handy place for your dog to play and relax, it still deserves at least one walk a day outside the yard. This time together provides interaction between you and your pal. It will also establish mutual communication and a strong bond of affection. Socialization skills for your dog is very important, so walks provide a chance to socialize with other dogs. Puppies need to learn the rules of canine social interaction from meeting other dogs. Without these skills, problem behaviors can develop.

If you keep your dog in a fenced yard, it may get bored because there is no variety of scenery. Think about it. Can you imagine being able to see a park, alley, or a vacant log from your yard, but you can never have a chance to explore what you see. Most dogs don’t run around a fenced yard enough to get the exercise they need. If you can take your pal and walk, even for a short distance, you can always build up to a mile a day, which would benefit you as well as your dog. Remember, though, that small dogs with short legs may not be able to walk the same distance as larger breeds.

When it is all said and done, have fun with your pet. If you don’t have any activity and variety in your life and you stay indoors all the time, you would probably get frustrated also. Please have your pet spayed or neutered. PAWS has a low-income program that will help you. Call 918-470-7297 to see if you qualify. Looking for a pet to add to your family? Don’t buy off the street corner. Visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter. Their number is 918-423-7803.

Joyce McNally is a PAWS volunteer and advocate for prevention of pet abuse and neglect. Comments or questions can be directed to her at wwjoyce@swbell.net.

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