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How to Keep Your Pet Happy and Active

Furry friends need fun, too! It seems like the most natural thing in the world – our pets need food, water, medical care and lots of love. But dogs and cats have other needs, too. Our furry friends need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to lead truly full and happy lives.

Dogs and cats need to stay busy and engaged. They need a “job”, but unfortunately most of our pets are “unemployed” or working as couch potatoes! They sit home daily, chronically bored just waiting for their humans to return or engage them someway.

With nothing to do, dogs and cats are forced to find ways to entertain themselves with activities of their choice such as barking, meowing, chewing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants or scratching furniture. To prevent behavior and some health problems they need physical and mental workouts – both when you’re there to join the fun and when your pet is home alone.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Move it!! Healthy adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day. A brisk walk, swimming, jogging, playing with a neighbor dog. By walking different routes and neighborhoods with your dog it increases their mental stimulation by exposing them to different sights and new smells, they love to explore. If you are unable to provide sufficient aerobic exercise, consider hiring a dog walker.

  • Engage in STRUCTURED games and activities like fetch. 5 minutes of obedience work twice per day along with some fun things like jumping through a hula hoop or running through an agility tunnel. Dog trainers are a great way to learn new games and activities.

  • Keep your dog occupied when he’s home alone by giving him a food stuffed puzzle toy like the Kong toys.

  • There are sooooo many fun dog sports you can engage in with your canine companion! You will be surprised that you may have as much fun as your dog. These are a few I recommend:

Agility is an active sport combining obedience with fitness using obstacles.

Rally is another sport combing obedience with the fun of obstacles. It is slower paced than Agility and any dog and pet parent can enjoy it.

Canine Freestyle Dancing, yes “dancing with your dog”. I recently started participating in this activity with my dogs and we LOVE it. It can be as challenging or easy as you want it. It also combines obedience with movement.

  • Cats also need plenty of aerobic exercise. Get kitty fit with rousing plays sessions, such as chase and fetch with furry toys, small balls or toy mouse. Paper bags or boxes are some of the fun homemade toys that cats enjoy.

  • Cat trees are great for climbing and perching on to look out windows.

The bottom line is, we are responsible for enriching our pet’s life. Provide opportunities to exercise your cat or dog’s mind and body to keep them healthy and happy!

For more information about dog sports, dog training, or dog walking, please contact me. I would be happy to help. Call/text: 480-652-4900 or email:

Kathy Fabish, Pet Services of Ocean Isle Beach

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