30 Simple Ideas to Show Animals Some Love
Pets do so much for us, so it’s only natural to want the best for them. Whether they’re furred, feathered, or scaled, animals provide companionship during life’s highs and lows and make our living spaces much more inviting after a long, hard day. We have many ideas here to show animals some love in many different ways.
Read on to learn how you can give back and show your animals that you care.
For the Ones We “Ruff”
1. Brief, frequent walks
One longer walk a day is plenty for some dogs, but if you have a busy schedule, try squeezing in a few shorter walks whenever you’ve got a spare moment. It’ll keep the two of you active, healthy, and happier, too.
2. Go places together!
Most dogs love car rides and will be happy to be included in mundane errands like shopping. Or, if the public transit in your area allows dogs to board, why not see if the two of you can enjoy a bus ride together? Dogs need to be around their people, and getting to interact with new people will brighten their day, too.
3. Take them on an adventure
Remember those brief, regular walks I mentioned? What if your pooch could decide where to go, just this once? If they’re keen on following their nose somewhere, you could make their day by indulging them as a special treat. They may just lead you to your new favourite hangout spot.
4. Teach them something new
Many animals will get bored when they’re understimulated, just like we do. To avoid the destructive behaviours that can come with boredom, why not challenge you both by setting a goal for the two of you to work towards? Dogs were bred with specific jobs in mind, and giving your furry friend a job to do will make them much happier.
5. Good old-fashioned belly rubs
Of course, you can never go wrong with some classic rubs and scratches in your dog’s favourite spots. My dog enjoys having her chin and ears scratched, but all dogs are not the same, so finding those special spots is sure to give Fido a nice serotonin boost.
6. A new toy stuffed with love!
A store-bought toy will work for this, but why not make it special by working some DIY magic? Simple sewing tutorials are available online, and can really help add a personal touch to your dog’s new favourite toy.
7. Make time for morning cuddles
If you can spare a few moments, your dog will appreciate getting to wake up gradually by your side. Having a morning ritual like this will show them you care every day, no matter what’s happening, and no matter how busy you get.
8. Give lots of praise
We can all make the world a little nicer by making our animals feel special, and one of the ways we can do this is by giving them praise just for existing. If you notice them being calm or well-behaved, show your love by acknowledging that.
9. Make time for them
This tip may be the most important one of all. If you’re doing the above tips but can’t make time for them, even in brief moments throughout the day, your treasured companion will still be lonely. Pets don’t exist to be decorations, and they will notice if they’re being treated like one.
10. Don’t have a dog?
There are so many ways to make dogs feel loved, even if you don’t own any. If your local animal shelter is looking for volunteers or foster parents, try stopping by! Even taking little trips to spend time with shelter dogs will make their day.
For the “Purrfect” Companion
1. Share the same space
Cats are often described as “aloof”, but according to a cat, this couldn’t be further from the truth! They may express affection differently than we do, but they have plenty of love to go around.
One of the ways they show their love is by existing in the same space as their human family members. You may notice them relaxing with their back facing you, which to many cat owners, reads like they’re being snubbed. But to the cat, this is showing a high level of trust—they know you would have their back if something attacked them from behind.
They may also mirror your gestures, which is funny when they sit like a grown human watching TV, and annoying when they sit on your keyboard. Try to remember they want to be included, and have something similar they can do in the same space. You’d be amazed by how many cats are entertained with a folded paper “laptop” while their humans are working.
2. Affection on their terms
Cats are easily overstimulated, which is why so many can go from affectionate to nippy in the blink of an eye. Too many ‘pets’ can make them physically uncomfortable, and nipping is one of the only ways they can let you know. But also watch out for a waving or thrashing tail—this is another sign they’re getting worked up.
3. The Slow Blink
Cats show their love by giving casual eye contact and blinking slowly at their favourite people. Reciprocating or initiating this gesture will show your cat you love them in a language they understand.
4. Initiate the nuzzle
When cats rub their cheeks on things, they’re marking them with their scent to signal that something is theirs. They’ll sometimes do this to each other or their people to mark them as part of the family. It may be difficult to nuzzle them back, but holding out your hand and inviting them to nuzzle you will be received enthusiastically.
5. Play their favourite game
We all have favourite pastimes, and cats are no different. If you’re unsure about which toys and games they enjoy, why not experiment with a few? Doing it together will make it much more fun for both of you, and you’ll get to learn more about your favourite feline.
6. Help them de-stress
As previously mentioned, cats get overstimulated extremely easily. Setting up a bed, litterbox, and some toys for them in a quieter room will give them a space away from the household rush, and they’ll be much happier in the long term.
If they already have a consistent hiding spot, setting up their respite in the same area will reassure them that you notice and care what they do.
Setting up the rest of the house to be cat-friendly will also reassure them you care, so try getting some cat trees and leave some wall shelves empty for them to relax on. According to cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy, they have the most fun when they can navigate a whole room without touching the floor!
You may find that your cat likes to unroll toilet paper or open the pantry, and this is normal for such curious creatures. Giving them more appropriate puzzles to do will stimulate their brains in a way that doesn’t frustrate yours. Try searching for cat puzzle feeders online or at your local pet supply store!
8. Or treats!
Cats may be picky eaters, but they’ll gobble up their favourite treats. Indulging them now and then with their favourite snack will fill their bellies and their hearts.
9. Or a gentle massage!
“Gentle” is the key word here. Cats dislike the same deep scratches that most dogs adore, and can’t stand being petted against the direction of their fur. Light touches will assure them of your love just fine, and make for one happy cat.10. Don’t have a cat?
Don’t own a cat, but want to show your love to the whole of ‘catdom’? Show some love to your local shelter cats by donating money, food, or resources like beds and blankets. Keeping them warm at night will let them know that someone, somewhere is watching out for them.
Ways to Show Animals Love
1. Proper Grooming PSA
Almost all pets require grooming, and figuring out which one your pet needs can make the process more comfortable for them. Long-haired dogs like mine will need a comb, whereas a shorthair cat would benefit from a soft bristle brush, grooming mitt, and de-shedding tool. Researching which tools are best suited for your companion can even make grooming less painful, and ideally, not at all painful. A five-minute Google search will save both of you some trouble.
2. Table feeding
Many foods we enjoy aren’t safe for our animals to eat and could harm or even kill them. Different animals can digest different foods, so another five-minute Google search can potentially save your best friend’s life.
3. Do they have enough space?
Many first-time owners of small pets like rabbits, reptiles, and rodents will select budget-friendly cages to house them in. Being conscious of your spending is fine, but many of these cheaper cages are extremely small and will lead to your pet having a poor quality of life. Showing love for animals has some unavoidable expenses, and having a comfortable living space for a pet should be the utmost priority. Do broad and extensive research about how much space the pet requires before bringing one home.
If you’ve already purchased a cage that’s too small, consider saving up enough to upsize it, sell your current one, or barter for a bigger size. Your pet will thank you.
4. Enrich their environment
Once their basic needs are met, what else is there?
As it turns out, there are endless other ways of making your home pet-friendly! Many rodents and rabbits will appreciate having tunnels to run through or spots to dig, cats will love having spots up high to survey their domain, and dog owners like myself can attest to the sheer number of toys littering the floor.
Pets are a huge lifestyle change that requires the environment to change slightly to accommodate them. Whatever species your pet is, making a small change in their environment will have a huge impact on their welfare. Let’s make sure those changes are positive ones!
5. Learn their language
Some changes will require even more internet rabbit holes. You may provide everything your pet needs, but can you read their expressions?
Pets don’t communicate in the way humans do, so sometimes gestures they do will seem obvious to us but mean something completely different for them! In dogs, for example, yawning is a sign of stress, not tiredness. And many cat owners feel snubbed when their cat is trying to communicate their trust!
Learning their language will make co-existing easier for both of you.
6. Train their brain
This has been touched on already, but are their brains stimulated enough? Even older dogs and some cats will respond well to training, and it gives the two of you a fun goal to work towards.
It can also decrease boredom, meaning the amount they chew the furniture or claw up the curtains will plummet. Give it a try!
7. Include them in family activities
Show your animals you love them by including them in mundane activities with the family, like watching movies or board game night. They may not understand, but by giving them another activity to do in the same space, you’re increasing their sense of belonging and making them feel like part of the crew. Try giving them their favourite toy during a family activity and watch as they settle down in the same room, all to spend more time with you.
8. Foster/sponsor an animal
These tips so far have catered to pet owners, but what about animal lovers who don’t have any pets?
Many animal rescues and shelters have foster programs, but if your life is too hectic right now, some will also have sponsorship programs where you donate regularly to support a specific animal’s care. My grandmother is currently sponsoring a rescued horse in my name, and although he’s not fit for riding, I treasure the rare moments we spend together.
9. Donate to local animal welfare groups
Is there a group in your area working to improve the lives of pets, wildlife, or livestock? Consider donating to their cause! The animals themselves may never know, but by funding their care, you’re taking an active role in ensuring their survival. If they knew enough to say thank you, they would.
10. Share an animal shelter’s adoption page
Have you been eyeing the pets at a local rescue or shelter, knowing you aren’t able to take them in?
If so, there may be someone else out there who is able to take in a pet, and wants one but doesn’t know where to start looking. By sharing adoption pages, you can help these animals find their forever families. It’s a little gesture that will directly improve their lives and the lives of people actively searching.
A Little Love Goes a Long Way
Animals improve our lives by existing, so thanking them doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. If these ideas don’t work for you, remember how much you provide just with routine care and affection. You work hard to keep them alive and happy as is, and if you can’t afford to do anything extra, your current efforts won’t go unnoticed. Show animals love just by being with them goes a long way for everyone’s happiness.
Hopefully, this list has given you some fun ideas! If you try any or have your own ideas to share, feel free to post them in the comments below, and check out these blogs for even more ways to give back. Visit 365give.ca for more ideas on daily giving.