The Benefits of Safe Outdoor Time for Your Pets

One of the benefits of the COVID-19 virus’ being less problematic in outdoor spaces is that lots of people who didn’t use to spend time outdoors are hitting the hiking trails and enjoying their backyards, decks, and patios more.  The wonderful thing is that spending time in nature is good for your health, and it’s good for your pets’ health, too. 

Most dogs automatically get to spend some time outdoors every day because that’s where their bathroom is.  That’s also where they go to get exercise.  (I know some dogs walk on treadmills, but I’m guessing most still take their walks the old-fashioned way.)   It’s good for dogs to spend that time in nature.  It clears non-beneficial energy from their energy fields and helps them to be more grounded (more connected to the energy of the earth).  It also allows them to use their senses–to smell new smells, to hear new sounds, to see new sights, and to feel the dirt or grass under their paws–all of which combats boredom, which can prevent misbehavior. 

Cats benefit from going outside as well and for the same reasons.  My cat Phoebe loves her time outdoors.  It lets her feel like a wild cat for a little while.  She stalks birds, squirrels, butterflies and lizards, and she climbs trees and rolls in the dirt.  She does all this without actually harming any other living creatures because she is on a harness and leash, which brings me to my next point.

It’s important for your pets to be safe outdoors.  You have to make sure that if your pet is not on a harness and leash and under your direct supervision, that he or she is in an enclosed outdoor space from which escape is impossible and which prevents other animals from causing your pet harm.   For small dogs and for cats, this  means some form of fenced area with a roof on it so that hawks and other predatory birds cannot get to them.  For larger dogs, this means an area enclosed by a fence that they cannot jump over, break through, or dig under.  While I understand that dog parents might like them for aesthetic reasons, I’m not a big fan of underground electric fences since I don’t like the idea of a dog receiving a shock and since I know that large dogs will break through them if sufficiently motivated.  There are a variety of professionally-manufactured dog runs and “catios” to be found on-line, as well as companies that will come to your house and design an enclosure to suit your needs and style preferences.  If you’re handy with a hammer and saw, you could build yourself something.  Whatever you choose, just be sure to get the approval of your homeowners association before you put up any structures visible to your neighbors.  

Another aspect of making sure your pet is safe outdoors is being aware of the outdoor temperature.  Just because they are animals doesn’t mean our pets can survive all weather conditions.  If you live someplace really hot, be sure to provide lots of water for your pet and make sure your pet’s outdoor space has a roof to protect your pet from the sun and has a fan to help cool him down.  If you live someplace cold, make sure your pet’s outdoor enclosure has an insulated “house” of some sort.  In either case, don’t leave your pet outdoors for an extended period of time in extreme weather.

If you don’t have an outdoor space to enclose but would like your cat to be able to go outside, you could consider a window box–an enclosed platform attached to the outside of the residence that is accessible via an open window.  I’d buy something professionally manufactured or have a professional build it for you.  The idea of a poorly-built window box hanging off a third-floor window gives me the heebie-jeebies. 

If you don’t want a window box, it is also possible to train a cat to wear a harness and leash.  The long way involves putting the harness on her while indoors and creating a trail of cat treats to get her to take a few steps while wearing the harness.  Add the leash and extend the trail.  You’d want to do the training over several sessions, increasing the amount your cat was walking on the harness and leash incrementally.  Then you’d need to see if she wanted to go outdoors.  Energy therapy can facilitate the training process, so contact me if you’d like some help.

The question is “Is going outdoors right for all pets?”  The short answer is “No.”  If your pet is anxious by nature and has spent her whole life indoors, suddenly making her go outside will only cause her fear.   Cats do fine indoors as long as they have sufficient mental stimulation and the opportunity to exercise and use their predatory instincts in their indoor environment.   (See my blog post about playing with your cat for more information about that.)  If you have an anxious or fearful dog who has no choice but to go outside, energy therapy can help with the anxiety and fear.  Contact me if you’d like some help.  

May you and your pet enjoy some outdoor time and may it improve your health.

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