Improving Your Relationship with Your Companion Animal

Improving Your Relationship with Your Companion Animal


For many of us, the pressures of modern life can be quite taxing, leaving us little one-on-one time with our companion animals. And yet, experts believe that positive changes in your pets’ temperament can be brought about just by your spending quality time with them. With that in mind, it’s easy to see that by enriching the relationship you share with your cat or dog, your quality of your life will improve, too.

The first step in your efforts to enhance these interactions is to assess your current level of personal contact. Perhaps the best way to achieve this is by making a list of the typical weekly interactions you engage in with your companion animal. Once you create the list, grade yourself by asking whether or not you could, or should, be doing more.

If you’re unsure what you might do to enjoy quality time together, don’t worry - here are some tips for making the most of your time together and the best of your dog or cat's time alone. Consider incorporating any or all of these in your daily life …

Set aside a few minutes in the morning to groom your cat or dog. While brushing or combing, talk to them about your plans for the day. If your pets don’t enjoy grooming, spend a few minutes just petting and praising them. Whatever your daily morning interaction, try to do it at same time and in the same place. Your companion will find comfort in the regimen – and so will you.

Leave something that smells like you, like a pillow case or a recently-worn shirt, on or near your pet’s favorite spot. Your four-footer will find your scent reassuring during your time away from home.

If you have an answering machine, call home when you’re away and talk to your pet. Hearing your voice can improve the relationship and be reassuring to them during your absence.

When you return home after a long period away, greet your companions as if you’ve only been away for a few minutes and then do whatever chores are most pressing. Afterwards, do something that he or she will enjoy, like (if you have a dog) a game of catch, hide-and-seek, or take a long walk. No matter what you do together, be sure to tell him or her how much fun you are having. If you have cats, we recommend playing with a ball or using a fishing pole with dangling feathers – you know your cat loves the chase! It’s important to dedicate this time to your pet alone, so consider leaving your cell phone in another room if you’re indoors, or indoors if you’re outside. Take it from me – your undivided attention makes a big difference.

Incorporate teeth cleaning, ear cleaning and/or nail trimming into your new routine. Too often, these health necessities are viewed grudgingly as chores. Commit to making this time as fun as possible. It helps to think of these activities like time at a spa.

Massage is a wonderful way to connect with your companion animals. Check out one of the many pet massage books currently on the market to help you develop a technique that’s easy on you and feels good to them. There is evidence to suggest that massage can improve your pet’s health, and it may even relax you, too.

Whatever you choose to do to improve your relationship, even if it’s just one of these suggestions, will help you and your dog or cat to lead more fulfilling lifetimes.

Thank you for all that you do to make a better world for your companion animals,

Dr. Jane Bicks
HealthyPetNet Product Formulator

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Comments (5) -

  • Amelia

    1/4/2010 10:38:08 AM |

    Dr. Jane,

    From a trainer's perspective, your points are right on target.  Pet owners should give their full attention to their pets and not allow their time to be interrupted by telephone conversations.

    It never ceases to amaze me that pet owners think that when their dogs bark at them while they are on the phone that it is the dog that has the behavior problem. Perhaps they should step back and look at life from their pets' view.   This is not about who controls whom but how you can have a better relationship with your pet.

    Living in the moment,

    animal lover Amelia

  • Barbara

    1/9/2010 4:57:55 AM |

    Dr. Jane,

    I had an Abby named Star for 19 years, and I think it was YOUR PERSONAL training that I had her that long.  She was the love of my life for 19 years, and I thank you for giving her to me.

    I now have 2 shelter cats (brothers) Murphy and Muldoon, and I hope to keep them just as long.


  • karin

    1/11/2010 4:01:36 PM |

    That's excellent advice, Dr. Jane.  Too often we don't take the time unless we're already relaxed, forgetting that spending one-on-one time with our pet is exactly what it takes to relax both of us.  I didn't know there were pet massage books available, that's interesting!


  • Janet Makarick

    1/18/2010 7:41:41 AM |

    I have been raising a litter of lab puppies the last 2 months, which includes spending ALOT of time with them, socializing them, etc.  They enjoy the time I spend with them so much, and they love to be held & have their belly rubbed.  It IS very relaxing to me also.  I will add massage to the routine too!  Thanks Dr. Jane- Janet  

  • Melinda Smyth

    6/1/2010 1:03:01 PM |

    Please comment on how to clean teeth and ears for cats. I'm not certain how to start that project, but I probably should add to our current grooming routine.

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