The Star-Herald

Embrace playtime

For all it does to refresh us, burn energy and keep us sharp, we all need playtime, dogs and cats included. Sharing playtime with pets has the added benefit of strengthening the bond between us, so we better understand one another.

Dogs

With their innate intelligence and curiosity, dogs want to be part of the action, whether it’s enjoying a TV program or racing around the backyard. Dogs’ natural intelligence and curiosity make them want to experience new things. 

Exercise is essential, especially for a high-energy canine. Take your dog on frequent walks to use up some of that excess energy. Obedience training teaches you and your dog about interspecies communication. Your dog can learn the rules and understand what’s acceptable and what’s not.  It’s an enjoyable experience, especially when punctuated by lots of praise and a few treats. Obedience classes also allow for socialization and feedback. 

Teaching your dog some basic tricks is fun for everyone. The secret is to find behaviors that your dog does naturally, and then build on them through praise and positive reinforcement. Kids love this, too.  

There are lots of toys on the market that draw on your dog’s intelligence to provide fun and — even better — rewards.  Dogs solve “puzzles” through trial and error and earn treats.  The more they try, the more they learn and the more fun they have!

Cats  

The market abounds with toys that capitalize on a cat’s desire to run, pounce, jump, chase and stalk. Fishing, hunting, catching and chasing stimulations can be found on pet supply shelves and online. Take a few minutes each day to play with your cat. You’ll both have a great time. 

Though cats do best indoors; there are ways for them to enjoy the outside without going there. A screened-in porch lets cats feel the breeze, sniff the air and maybe even have some safe, close encounters with the wild world. Build a window box, one that looks like a screened-in window air conditioner frame, so your kitty can spend some time close to nature. If neither of those options are available, establish a perch in a sunny window for afternoon naps and bird-watching. 

To bring green experience indoors, plant some cat grass. This is a safe grass for cats to nibble without going outside, and it’s good for them. 

Cat trees and scratching post provide hours of indoor fun. Scratching is a natural thing for cats to do, so it’s important that they have their own scratching place. And this will hopefully keep them away from your furniture. Cat trees or cat condos provide climbing, hiding, jumping and sleeping places, in addition to the scratch advantage. If you have more than one cat, they tend to set their own schedules as to who sits where at what time, so let them work it out. 

So let the good times roll. Use your imagination and have a ball. More information and fun articles can be found at www.newparentguide.com.

Please check out our Facebook page and see what pets are available for adoption at the Central Aroostook Humane Society.  Message the girls for an application and set up an appointment.  Hopefully the COVID-19 shutdown will be over soon.  Take care and stay safe.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the board of directors of the Central

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