8 Tips To Help You Be A Better Pet Parent

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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  1. Julie Mullins says

    My pets are all on a schedule, and it actually helps me just as much. If I go off the scedule at all, they let me know. They are all rescues, and the BEST fur family I could ask for. My lemon be able “Sadie” used to use the bathroom on my floor daily, until we got “Duchess”, out Belgium malonmaui? (K9ttype did) and when she saw her get rewarded for going outside, she now lets is know when she had to go. They play together so well, even our cat “shooter” plays with them. I think if you have a playymate to stay with them, it makes all the difference. Going today to the shelter to look at dogs for my son, and another cat for Shooter to bond with. I always pray before adopting, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Hope this helped. Have a blessed day

  2. Faylinn says

    I just got a dog who is three-years-old, but I had no idea that keeping a pet on a schedule could be so important. I have only had her a few days and so I am still getting pretty used to being a dog parent. So far, I have been letting her out to go to the bathroom whenever she wants to, but do think that it would be best to have that scheduled. I can easily take her outside to do her business once I wake up in the morning, but how many other times throughout the day should I make sure that she goes?

    • Amanda says

      My goal has always been. If I gotta go, they must have to. So I think when, I wake up. At least three times during the day and right before bed

    • Julie Mullins says

      With working all day, its hard knowing they are stuck all day. I let them out when I get up, before I leave, when I get home, After they eat, once or twice during the evening, and before bed. That makes them happy. You’ll find what’s best for you and it will come natural. Good luck….