Give Yourself a Free, Pet-Related Christmas Gift

Did you forget to get yourself a Christmas gift? If you’re like most people this time of year, you’ve been running around like crazy shopping for gifts for friends and family, but you haven’t taken time to do something nice for yourself. Never fear! You don’t need to go back to the mall or spend another dime to give yourself a great pet-related Christmas gift this holiday season.

Give Yourself a Calm Dog

Give yourself the gift of a calm, tired dog by increasing your dog’s exercise levels. Especially if you have a high-energy dog, it’ll be easier to have a happy holiday if your pooch is worn out from some fun exercise before you start cooking Christmas dinner or opening presents.

Play a game of puppy ping-pong with your dog by having a family member help you call the dog back and forth between the two of you. It’ll reinforce your dog’s recall, and if the dog is a fast learner, you can quickly start to spice the game up by hiding in different places around the house or the yard. The physical and mental exercise will calm your dog, while the fun game is a perfect way to spend time with a visiting family member who loves dogs.

Or, you could take a long walk, and invite the rest of the family along. Walking together is fun and burns calories while burning off your dog’s excess energy. Make the walk more fun and more strenuous exercise by incorporating obedience work. If your dog knows how to heel, have her heel as you walk slowly, then walk normally, then speedwalk. Changing her speed to match yours takes a lot of thinking, and thinking makes dogs tired and calm.

Give Yourself a Happier Cat

A happy cat is an easy cat to live with. Happy cats whose needs are met don’t usually scratch couches or have other problem behaviors. Take some time over the holiday to evaluate your cat’s lifestyle and make changes where necessary to keep your cat happier, and therefore a more pleasant companion.

Is his litterbox located somewhere with both privacy and escape potential? Cats like to see an escape route from the box, in case they’re surprised by something scaring while using it, but they also need privacy to do their business in peace. Litterboxes should be located in a room the cat uses often (not in a tiny bathroom or a basement where the cat would rather not go if he didn’t have to) but out of the way of human foot traffic. Make sure the box is cleaned completely at least once or twice each week, and scooped daily. Cats’ sensitive noses are as offended by litterbox odor as the human members of the family.

What about your cat’s scratching needs? If your cat is young, he or she may have grown since you bought scratching materials. Use a toy to get your cat to stand up straight so that you can see if his scratching post is still taller than he is, including paws stretched upward. Every cat needs at least one post they can scratch while stretching to their full height and length. If the post itself is suitable, spruce it up by tying a toy mouse to it or sprinkling it with catnip.

Give Yourself the Gift of Lower Blood Pressure and Less Stress

Lastly, lower your own blood pressure and stress levels by spending some time focusing just on playing or cuddling with your pet.

Use a fishing rod-style toy to play with your cat without endangering your fingers, and after she’s tired of playing, invite her onto your lap and pet her gently.

Throw a ball for your dog, teach him a new trick, pet him, or give him a special chew and watch him enjoy it.

Scientific studies have proven that petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure as well as reduce the amount of stress hormones in your body. While you’re enjoying the holidays, make sure to take some time out for yourself and your pets: It’ll make you healthier and both you and your pets happier.

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