Cats and dogs are essentially wild animals. As such, they belong to the outdoors. Yet since they’re our pets, we grew overprotective of them and wouldn’t let them anywhere beyond our yards. But is that helping our pets become happy animals?
While your presence and attention are enough for your pets most of the time, they could use some outdoor play. And we don’t mean a walk or a stroll around your yard. We mean taking them out to see the world.
In 2019, cyclist Dean Nicholson became trending on the internet because of his viral posts with his cat Nala, whom he had taken with him on his outdoor adventures. During one of his cycling trips, Nicholson found Nala and took her in despite having a houseful of dogs. Fortunately, Nala settled well, and since then, have joined Nicholson on his cycling trips, perched on his back.
Nicholson and Nala’s story proves that pets can be the perfect outdoor activity companion. Indoor pets may be intimidated by the vast world outside their homes, but in time, they’re going to get used to it. And they’re going to look for it over and over again.
That said, here are some “purrfect” outdoor activities to enjoy with your cat or dog:
1. Scent Walk
If your dog hasn’t been to any tourist destination yet, warm them up with a scent walk. As its name suggests, a scent walk is letting a dog sniff certain smells as they walk. Just buy a DIY scent walk kit and put the essential oils in it on a cotton pad. Put the scented cotton in the jar included in the kit and hide them somewhere in a park. Another version of this — which is probably more fun — is using treats instead of essential oils.
Another good warm-up activity for indoor dogs is a picnic. Ensure that all the food you’d bring is safe for dogs, even if you’d feed them a separate food. Plus, bring a cozy mat big enough to fit your dog when they’re lying down. If they’ve been running around before the picnic, they’d need the mat to relax and re-energize.
A literal catwalk. If you didn’t know yet, cats are trained to walk with a leash, too. Buy them a harness that fits right, and let them walk around the house wearing it to get them used to the feeling. Once they’re settled, introduce them to the leash, and start walking them outside as soon as they get comfortable in their outdoor ensemble. Go for short walks first, then gradually increase your distance until they stop being scared.
4. Road Trip
With your cat or dog now prepped for a real outdoor trip, introduce them to a road trip. Leave a small opening on the window to let your pet breathe in the fresh air. If your pet is a cat and seems uncomfortable, bring their crate and put them inside it. They’ll feel more secure in the closed space. Dogs, on the other hand, generally have no problems riding a car. They don’t need to be restrained with a seatbelt, but if you want to, train them how to behave with it on.
For cat-owners, this may not be an option. But if your feline friend is unafraid of the water, don’t let them miss out on swimming. Dogs and cats can learn how to swim with a life jacket on, though you shouldn’t leave them alone in the water, no matter how good they get. For one thing, drinking water from the lake, river, or sea may upset their stomach, so they need constant access to fresh water while swimming. Also, they may get distracted by things they find in the water, like fish or seaweeds.
6. Boating or Fishing
Water activities are another thing to train a dog or cat for. They may panic on a boat without prior training or experience. Start with something easy, like kayaking on shallow waters. Gradually increase the intensity of the activity until they become ready for deep-sea fishing. Let them join you the next time you avail a fun fishing charter. Don’t forget to gear them up with their doggie or kitty life vest.
After going home from an adrenaline-pumping outdoor activity, let your pet relax as you tend to your garden. Ensure that you have pet-friendly herbs to avoid poisoning them. If you have a cat, grow some catnip. You can help your pet be more active if there’s always a reason for them to go outside.
Like humans, pets need physical activity and stimulation too, and what better place to get those than the outdoors? If you’re worried about their safety, give them lots of training and reward their efforts and milestones with a treat. Never try to let your pet outdoors without training them.