Dog and cat eating food from a bowl

8 Tips To Help You Be A Better Pet Parent

They may not be related to us by flesh and blood, but we cherish our pets like they’re our tiny, fluffy children all the same. Pet care presents a unique set of challenges, but with the right strategies, you can have the happiest pet on the block. If you’re looking for ways to show your feline or canine companions some love, here are some easy steps you can take to become a better parent to your pet.

1. Try An Exercise Accessory (For Both Of You).

young woman jogging with dogKeeping your pet in good shape usually requires getting a little exercise yourself. If you ever feel yourself struggling to get off the couch and walk your dog around the block, try this: Invest in a wearable fitness tracker for you and your pet.

By setting daily activity goals for the both of you, you’ll feel more motivated to get outside—even on your laziest days. Some pet-friendly fitness trackers also monitor sleeping patterns and generate reports of your pet’s overall health.

Bonus: Make your own braided dog leash! (Instructions at the bottom of this page.)

2. Measure Out Meals.

Dog and cat eating food from a bowlIt’s hard to walk down a pet food aisle without being bombarded by labels claiming a brand is the best option for your pet. But just because a product is vegetarian, grain-free, or certified organic doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Portion size and calorie density are vital parts of your pet’s diet that many owners pay little attention to. For instance, more expensive brands that replace grains with meat products claim to be healthier but are usually higher in calories and should be portioned out accordingly. Instead of eyeballing your pet’s serving sizes at mealtimes, find a pet calorie calculator online, which you can use to calculate the exact amount of calories your pet should be consuming each day. Use this information and the nutritional facts on the back of the dog food package to measure out the perfect amount of food for them.

3. Organize Play Dates Online.

Golden Retrievers playing tug-of-war with toy in gardenSocialization is important for kids to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults, and the same goes for your pets. Especially if your dog is still a puppy, you’ll want to introduce them to unfamiliar people, animals, environments, and experiences early on. If you’re fairly new to your area or if you don’t know many other pet owners who are local, try joining a pet playgroup through social media. (There are even apps that can help you find a playmate for your pooch.) Not only is this a good way for pets to make new friends, but it can provide you with some opportunities for socialization as well.

GEICO can help with umbrella insurance.

4. Enrich Their Environment.

Maine Coon cat surrounded by toysYou can’t be responsible for keeping your pet entertained 24/7. To prevent your pet from getting bored when you’re not around (or not in the mood play), fill your home with toys and products designed to stimulate their senses. Food-dispensing toys are a great option for both cats and dogs, especially if you’re looking to keep them occupied for long periods of time. For pet owners who want something that will distract them for even longer, try this neat trick: Freeze a scoop of peanut butter inside of the toy instead of filling it with dry treats. Don’t be surprised if your pet spends the whole day trying to lick out every last bit.

5. Keep Them On A Schedule.

Scottish Terrier Wakes up a Couple in Bed, Licking the Man's Face as he Grimaces, His Wife LaughingLike kids (and adults), pets can benefit from sticking to a daily routine. Bedtime, playtime, meal times, and bathroom breaks should all occur at generally the same time every day. To keep their routine consistent, set reminders on your phone just like you would for any other daily activity. By staying organized, it won’t be too difficult to plan your pet’s schedule around your own. Make your life easier by timing your pet’s first bathroom break of the day for a little after you wake up—this way, they won’t be conditioned to wake up before you do. In addition, make sure your pet’s meals always come first to keep them from begging for some of yours, and when scheduling play sessions, leave a couple of extra hours for them to wind down before bedtime.

6. Ease Separation Anxiety.

white cat under blanketFor pet owners who leave home to go to work each morning, seeing their pets torn apart by separation anxiety can feel like torture. Some ways pets express their stress is through destructive chewing, urination, and endless barking and whining. And contrary to stereotypes, dogs aren’t the only pets who get anxious when their owners depart: Cats can also become distressed, although they generally find more subtle ways to express their feelings, like excessive grooming. One tip for reducing separation anxiety in pets is to leave them something with your scent on it. A blanket or a piece of clothing that smells like you can help them feel less lonely when you’re not around.

7. Keep Them Well-Groomed.

Chow chow getting a bathRegular baths are important, but they can be stressful—for both of you. If your dog or cat isn’t a fan of the tub, try feeding them breakfast or dinner during their bath, which will teach your pet to associate baths with a more positive experience.

8. Make Them Easy To Find.

Group of dogs are wearing a reflective vest.No one wants to imagine losing their pet, but there are plenty of precautions you can take that will make them easier to locate in case the worst should happen. Give your pet’s nylon collar a safety upgrade by gluing reflective tape to the outside. Not only could this save his or her life if they run out into the road, but it will also make your pet easier to find if he or she has free reign of the backyard at night.

Your pets are like family, and you want to protect them like family. That’s why it’s important to keep your pets protected with affordable pet insurance through the GEICO Insurance Agency. Get a free online quote today.

Next article: How To Keep Track of Your Pet

BONUS: Braided Rope Dog Leash In 15 Minutes Or Less

dog on leash


  1. Macramé rope ⅛-inch thick
  2. Twine
  3. Metal latch
  4. Tape



  • Cut two 4-yard pieces of macramé rope
  • Fold both pieces in half and tape them down, side by side
  • Take the far-left strand and weave it under, over, then under the remaining three strands.
  • Repeat this until you’ve gotten to the end of the ropes.


  • Take the last 8 inches of the braid and fold them in half to create a loop.
  • Grab a foot or so of twine and tie it in a knot around the folded-over handle.
  • Line up the tail of the twine, then wrap the twine around the tail to secure it.
  • Continue wrapping it around until the handle is secured, then tie a knot.


  • Thread the other end through the hook end, and then repeat the same process you did with the handle to secure the latch to the leash.
GEICO can help with pet insurance.

    Leave a comment

  1. Kate Lauren says,

    I have bought new toys for my dog to enrich the environment. You have shared really amazing tips. I am following your tips to make my tips. I would like to appreciate it.

  2. Pet Sky says,

    It is a great post for pet lovers, thanks for sharing the tips. I usually follow these tips that make me and my pets happy.

  3. Kay. Kiessling says,

    My Schnoodle is 1 1/2 yr .hes constantly on my heels, tugs at my clothes, purse , sets on my ft. barks when I go into the bathroom to get dressed so hes not tugging at my clothes. Or spray my purfume.. I bought the bed for anxiety he doesnt use very much.
    There is another dog, and human in the house it’s not like hes completely alone..

    • Cheri says,

      Sounds like he just has bonded to you. Perhaps playing fetch everyday with him would wear him out a bit since he’s a high energy breed. Sometimes giving them attention helps to gain space for ourselves, lol.

  4. Billie McGee says,

    I hope you can help! I have a. Black Cockapoo 12 years. A few years ago, he started to eat his own poop. I love him to death but really hate the bad habit! Do you have any suggestions, I’m really at my wits end?

  5. Vesta Rhoades says,

    I have 3 dogs.. a Australian part dog, A chihuahua and a Terrier..all different Aussie weighs to much..
    My Terrier is good.. and my chihuahua is a little chunky..
    Love these guys.. it is hard to know what to feed them..
    My Aussie has had pancreatis once .. I don’t know exactly how to feed them.. I give my big dog Cosequin.
    They are happy but I want them to live a long time.. and I do walk them..

    • Cheri says,

      Really have to watch the fat intake for pancreatic dogs. For my dogs that are schnauzers they get 1/2 cup food 2 times daily. They are all under 20 lbs. A dog is overweight if you can’t feel there rib cage easily. You need to be able to just feel that just under their skin. If you feel it too much then they’re getting too little- not at all and they’re getting too much. Exercising your bigger dog to help reduce his weight will help him plus work with your vet to find him the right food. I would reduce the chihuahuas food and increase exercise until right weight. You can work with your vet to find out ideal weight for all your pets too.

  6. De-An Filizetti says,

    my little one won’t eat dog food. I’ve tried both dry and canned and fresh. I made my own from scratch with chicken,broccoli,carrots and brown rice. she won’t eat that either.Any suggestions other than what I eat I share with her or shed starve

    • Rita Littlefield says,

      Same problem with my multipoo. I found puttiny food with a little of his in his didh, instesfuof shareimg from my plate helped a little but it’s still a problem, so if you do find anything that helps please share

      • Cheri says,

        Kennel your dogs in a separate room while you’re eating. Set a time when your dogs are fed and if they don’t eat pick it up then offer it at next feeding. Do not feed them scraps from your plate ever. They will eat their own food if you stick to this. Dogs will not starve themselves. You have to be consistent with this.

  7. Jeraldine Condon says,

    Great info…especially for new pet owners.
    Julie, so sorry for your loss…been there many times. It’s never easy.
    Ruth McHugh
    Cat litter: we have 2 cats & use fragrence free clumping litter and add baking soda to it. Also we use a larger tote with high sides and cut out an entry for them. If cleaned & & filled about 4-5″ and cleaned regularly it will last about 3‐4 weeks.
    All cal litter will have some air born residue. The clay kind is the worsy and least efficient.