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Baston animal behaviour expert Karen Wild offers advice on keeping your dog happy this spring

It is important to remind ourselves of the benefits pets bring to our lives, writes animal behaviour expert Karen Wild.

Pets are known for improving our mental health and providing support, affection, and something to care for each day.

We love our pets, the challenges they bring becoming secondary to them being our little furry friends that live in our homes and make us laugh with their antics.

Labrador dog istock
Labrador dog istock

Being a pet owner is a year-round adventure, and as we welcome the refreshing vibes of spring, we can help ourselves and our pets to lead a truly lovely year.

I know that sometimes they are older, unwell, frail, and so are we. These challenges are part of normal life - it’s a privilege to care for our animals, no matter what happens.

Eat well, sleep well. That means you, as well as the dog!

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During winter, the reduced outdoor activities may have influenced your pet’s exercise routine. Colder months affect their weight and energy levels, and yours as well.

Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild
Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild

Adjust their diet and add regular exercises to keep them healthy and active as you welcome the warmer season.

Maybe a quick extra trip round the block at lunchtime, coming home for a tasty snack, would give us and the dog a daylight boost.

How about an extra special game with the cat at this time, instead of just ignoring them - offer a nice fishing rod wand toy and see if they’d like to get involved!

Winter may have limited your pet’s exposure to new stimuli, and this can lead to fears and anxieties when these things reappear in better weather.

Gradually bring new and interesting people and things back into their day to day.

Winter can be harsh on health, with potential exposure to ailments. We might be feeling a bit achy and give them fewer walks or games, or we might just be feeling a bit down in the dumps.

This is where our pets can be amazing tiny therapists (of course, get a real counsellor if things are tough for you - experts are here to help make our lives easier).

Make sure your pets are healthy (vet check please), and that they are eating a good quality food.

It always makes me feel better to sit with my dogs, or to have my cat greet me when I come home - even if he’s trying to get me to open up yet another sachet of tasty cat food!

A happy and content pet with a healthy coat and bright eyes signifies a positive response to the changing season.

How about you? Are you happy and content, and if not, how about taking some of the above steps to care for your pet. You can read one of my books, or look at the Dogs Trust website, or the International Cat Care (ICC) website to learn more. Learning will boost your mood as you plan for your next few months with the most contented pet ever.

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