YOUR PET’S BEST FRIEND – CHRISTINE MALLAR – All animals need exercise and stimulation, but how do those of us that can’t move around as easily as others get them tuckered out? Here are a few great toys and tips to get your pets moving:

  • A Laser Pointer: Many cats and dogs will happily chase the little red dot from a laser pointer, sometimes to the point of exhaustion! Fairly inexpensive and easy to stash in a nearby drawer, these little toys are a useful tool for some. Caution must be exercised though, especially for some animals. Some dogs are prone to obsessive behavior and are convinced that a laser pointer is worth looking for ALL THE TIME! The problem lies with the fact that the red dot often seems to appear out of nowhere, so it seems worth looking for. To prevent this, make up a name for this activity and make them earn the red dot with a sit or a down. For example, “Want to get the ‘bug’? Well then ‘Lie Down’. Good! Get the ‘bug’!”. Another good tip is to pretend you’re releasing it from your hand, and then make it clear you’ve “caught” it at the end of the game and put it back in the drawer. This may make it less likely that the dog thinks it can pop up out of nowhere and that you have control of that sneaky “bug”. Finally, make sure the pointer is never pointed into the eyes of any person or animal while playing the game.
  • Da Bird for Cats: What a great toy this is – the string and rod are both very long making it easy to play with from a seated position, and the bird feathers at the end of it are designed to spin when they fly through the air. This makes for a very convincing flying bird! Most cats cannot resist chasing it and will run and leap into the air to get it. Make sure to try and put it away when you’re done – many cats want to destroy the feathers if they can find the toy and work on “killing” that bird. Other attachments are available, including a sparkly tassel and a venison hair mouse, as well as replacement “birds”. Downside? The attachments are a little hard to switch out, but make the toy a good value.
  • Chase-it Wand Toy for Dogs: Why should kitties have all the fun with wand toys (also sometimes referred to as a flirt pole?) This sturdy toy ( looks just like a long horse whip with a stuffed animal attached to the end. In fact, if you can’t find this toy, you might check to see if there’s a Horse supply store or a Petsmart in your area that carries horse supplies and tie the end of a horse whip around a toy. One perk of the Chase it toy is that it comes with a velcro strap around the neck of the stuffed animal, so if that toy is damaged, you can swap out any toy that you can fit the velcro around, instead of buying a specific replacement toy (though those are available of course). It comes in a few lengths, but both are long, which makes it great for playing from a chair, though watch out for your lamps! Here’s a neat link that gives some great behavioral advice about how to make this a perfect game, and another way to make one, if you’re the DIY type.
– Don’t forget that exercise is important for all pets, but especially important for dogs, and without it, behavioral problems can crop up. Consider finding a dog walker, a local doggie daycare that might pick up and drop off, or simply a responsible teen in the neighborhood that might be willing to take Fido on walks for you


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