Reminders for a happier, healthier best friend
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
There’s a ton of old adages about the differences between cats and dogs. Cats are assholes, dogs are man’s best friend. Cats are arrogant, dogs sniff each other’s butts. These perceived differences have kernels of truth to them, but the raising of a pet comes down much more to your personal situation, your pets’ personality, and their breed.
Cats are individually diverse. My own two cats couldn’t be more different—one is an emotive, shy, intelligent introvert, and the other is a loud, rude barn kitty who still doesn’t know how to drink from a water bowl. These personality traits were largely developed on their own, by their environment, and not by their owners or training habits. Is your neighbourhood safe for outdoor cats? Do you have another pet? When you get your own cat, you’ll find it’ll grow strong opinions about these things. They really develop on their own, and the best you can do is make sure they’re house trained and don’t meow too loudly late at night.
Dogs are bred for obedience, and each breed has their own commands, instincts, and reactions. Sure, that makes them sound a tad robotic, but it’s true. Dogs have been genetically engineered by humans for tens of thousands of years, and the result will often be either a massive over-protective guard dog, or a tiny little yapper who can fit in a purse. A dog actively looks for training and guidance as it grows up the same way its ancestors would turn to older canines for instruction, though there are massive differences in puppy personalities. The biggest thing about raising a dog is knowing the breed. You cannot raise a mastiff in the same way you’d raise a teacup poodle.
For both types of animals, however, the core is discipline. Nobody likes to punish their pets, or deprive them of treats, but you have to in order to keep them happy and healthy. A large number of pets at adoption centres are poorly-trained adults, and as a result their owners couldn’t cope and gave them up. It’s unnecessarily cruel to the cats and dogs. So as a pet parent, you need to keep at it! Especially with dogs, you need to make sure they know boundaries and territories—which couches they can’t jump on, which rooms they can’t enter, how to approach people. Cats also need to know to use scratching posts instead of tearing up furniture, how to be tolerant of other humans in their presence, and other general politeness stuff—cats will always be a little uppity, but they don’t need to be violent or destructive.
Training is definitely hard for both pet and owner, but you’ll both be so much happier for it down the road.