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Articles and Advice from our Pet Expert

4 Fresh, Fun Fall Pet Routines

My pets are creatures of habit, and I bet yours are, too. At about 6:00 a.m. each morning, my cat Turtle joins me for coffee on the sofa. If I sleep in, I find her downstairs waiting patiently for me. My other cat Olivia predictably perches on her favorite armchair in the loft every afternoon. At that time of day, the sun hits the chair just right, giving her the perfect spot to soak up the warmth.

Of course, my dog Chilly is no exception. He starts his morning with the same sequence of doggie errands: potty, check on the donkeys in their stall, bark at bikers and walkers passing by. At night, if we happen to stay up past 9:00 p.m., Chilly puts himself to bed.

Routines are good for pets. Knowing what to expect each day helps them feel safe and secure. However, it’s a smart idea to proactively help establish positive routines for them. Left to their own devices, pets, like kids, are excellent at coming up with some that are not so positive!

Luckily, fall is a great time to put new routines in place. With school back in session, children are getting into the groove of early wake-up, afternoon homework and more reasonable bedtimes. So why not take advantage of this change by creating a new schedule for your dogs, cats or other critters that will benefit your entire family?

Meals: Feeding your pet at regular times will help him or her better metabolize meals and maintain good energy. Keeping food amounts the same each day are also important to control weight. Determine which family member will be responsible for feeding the pet in the morning and evening. If you put a child in charge, make sure that they are old enough to understand the importance of this chore and do it consistently.

Walk and Play: The family pet(s) will have more quiet resting time once kids go back to school, so it’s important they don’t miss out on regular activity as a result. Enlist one or more family members (of the appropriate age) to walk the dog before and after school, or to spend a few valuable minutes playing with the cat for mental and physical stimulation.

Baths: Many young children go to great lengths to avoid bath time, and dogs aren’t much different. But having a routine helps make it easier on everyone. Establish a regular time and day for the bath, and stick to the schedule. Rather than just plopping your pup in the tub, have fun and tire them out mentally by going through any tricks he or she knows. Generously dole out favorite treats as a reward before, during and after the bath (this is not the time to be stingy!).

Training: Practice makes perfect. This is as true for our pets as it is for us. Give your dog an obedience refresher course a few times a week and they’ll likely respond better to your commands. If possible, get your children involved, too. Right after school is the perfect time for kids and dogs to bond and do some fun “homework” together before the real homework begins. And don’t forget kitty! While cats are unlikely to be obedience trained, a child can engage them with an interactive cat toy, ridding them both of a little excess energy.

As your loyal companions, your pets need affection, love and exercise on a regular basis. By establishing easy, consistent routines, you can ensure they get all the attention they so richly deserve.

For more ways to live healthier and happier with your pet, check out my website, Kristen Levine Pet Living.

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Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Living Expert

August 15, 2014

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