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Be a friend to your dog

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By Melanie Vittitow

This article is geared toward dogs but many of the tips also apply to cats. When you decide to add a pet to your family, you can’t just ignore that pet when it isn’t convenient. You have made a commitment for life, not just to feed and house the pet, but to keep him happy and contented. Your dog will love you unconditionally (cats love you, too, but with conditions!). To deserve this love, you need to think of your pet as a friend and do things for and with him. Here are a few suggestions.

Plan activities that include the dog: Find a park or beach that allows pets and let the canine member of the family join the fun. Even a quick trip to the mailbox in the golf cart is an adventure. Lavish your pet with attention. There are so many ways to do this: pet him, talk to him, give him hugs and kisses (and see how many you get in return), play with him, laugh with him, give him massages, find his special ‘spot’ and scratch it often. Basically just let the pet know you value his company. Give him his favorite treats, but keep in mind that they should replace some of his food, and limit ‘people’ treats, so he doesn’t get fat or sick. Take your dog for daily walks. Besides providing good exercise, it stimulates his senses. Another way to keep him entertained is to switch out his toys. They will be just like having new toys when they are brought out again after a month or two. Give your dog a sense of self worth by making him earn treats or rewards (by sitting or laying down first). If you can teach him to do tricks or to go find something, he will feel really important. A self-confident dog is less likely to have separation anxiety but you can still make him feel more comfortable when you are gone if you leave the radio or TV turned on. If you have room in your life and home for more than one pet, a second dog or cat will provide companionship and comfort while you are away or busy.

All these tips are not meant to encourage you to let the pet rule the house. You set the rules for behavior and see that he follows them. If your dog, or cat, needs discipline, do it firmly but gently, with lots of praise for good behavior. Your dog will be much happier if you are the leader and he knows where he stands in the hierarchy of the family.  You’ll be happier, too.

Enjoy being with your pet and reap the benefits and rewards that come from sharing your home with a loving and faithful canine (or feline) friend.

SPCA News

One of the main objectives of our chapter of the SPCA is to help pets to find good homes.

The next meeting of the SPCA is Thursday, April 16, at 1:00 p.m. in Room H of the Arbor Conference Center in On Top of the World Communities. We have invited a representative of the Humane Society to speak to us on their facility and to see how we can assist them. We try to make a difference in the lives of pets in need and we welcome all pet lovers. Come join us. If you live outside of OTOW, just tell the guard that you are attending the SPCA meeting. If you have questions or want directions, please call one of the members listed below.

Till next month remember: “Pets are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.”

Melanie Vittitow is an OTOW resident who is publicity person for SPCA of Marion County. She and her husband share their home with their beloved dog, Blondie. For SPCA information, call 861-9765.