Provide for Your Pet’s Animal Nature

One of the best ways to ensure your pet is healthy and happy is to understand and provide for their needs as a specific species or breed. When people hire me for pet psychic readings in order to better understand their animals, they often have big “ah-ha moments” when I share what needs their pets have as an animal. While our pets are bred in captivity and they adapt well to living with humans, their DNA still holds generations of the wild characteristics of their breed or animal type. And understanding and meeting the needs of that animal nature is one way that pet parents can help their pets naturally relax and thrive.

Help animal companions thrive because you meet their breed and individual needs.

Ronnie, a seven-year old Australian cattle dog, was incredibly smart and incredibly strong. His family had called me for a pet psychic reading to find out why he got into mischief so often. During the reading, I explained that Ronnie was typical of cattle dogs in that he has a naturally high energy level. High energy plus high intelligence in a companion animal is a combination that necessitates pet parents consistently provide a lot of mental and physical stimulation. This manages a pet’s energy and prevents boredom and acting out. Ronnie wasn’t getting his energy out on with regular walks, so he used that energy plus his intelligence to get into mischief instead. When I explained that he needed a 45-minute walk twice a day as well as an agility course now and then, to help manage his energy, his pet parents were relieved to know he was a happy dog otherwise and that something as simple as regular exercise could help him stay out of the trash and forbidden food.

Several dogs breeds, like the Australian cattle dog, have high energy levels, and regular exercise helps them manage that. Photo by VetStreet.com

Several dogs breeds, like the Australian cattle dog, have high energy levels, and regular exercise helps them manage that. Photo by VetStreet.com

Help animal companions thrive by treating them like the animal they are rather than as a human or another animal.

I learned this first-hand when I adopted Lucky, a 12-year old African gray parrot who had spent most of his life around dogs. I quickly realized that Lucky considered himself to be something between a human and a dog. He was more comfortable walking around on the floor than perching. He had no concept of playing with bird toys. And he felt like being in or even on his cage was a punishment rather than a place to be safe and play. But I kept him on a consistent schedule with the other members of my flock, introduced him to toys, gave him time to get used to his cage, etc. I treated him like a pet bird.

And he flourished.

Within 2 months, he played with toys, his feathers grew back and he’d stopped plucking his feathers out. He perched nearby as I worked and began taking to his cage on his own for downtime and playtime. He grew used to the other birds and began to understand that he’s one of them. He adjusted beautifully. And while I don’t feel Lucky’s previous family did him a disservice by treating him differently than I did, when he came to me he was able to thrive as a bird because I treated him as one.

Treating Lucky the African gray parrot like he was a pet bird rather than a human or dog, helped him feel secure and stop plucking his feathers.

Treating Lucky the African gray parrot like he was a pet bird rather than a human or dog, helped him feel secure and stop plucking his feathers.

Not sure what your specific breed of companion animal needs? Check with reputable sites, such as Animal Planet. Or book a pet psychic reading with me.

Boredom Busters for Pets

Pets need food, shelter and companionship to stay happy and healthy, but they also need mental stimulation. This keeps them from getting bored, which can lead to them becoming anxious or acting out. You’ll notice pets being bored in behavior such as

  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Excessive grooming or vocalization
  • Being disobedient or slow to obey
  • Destroying your home or yard
Bored pets often can act out, destroying your home.

Bored pets often can act out, destroying your home.

Providing enrichment or stimulation through the methods below can meet your pet’s mental needs and bust any boredom he or she may experience.

Teach your pet tricks. Aside from learning obedience, teaching your dog to sit or your parrot to step up helps stimulates a pet’s mind, keeping him or her from being bored. Be sure to reward desired behavior with treats and praise.

Provide playtime and exercise. Pets let off steam, learn to interact and have fun when they have regular playtime and exercise. Try using a fun chasing toy to play with your cat or throwing a ball to or tackling an agility course with your dog. Give your parakeet a swing or ladder to explore in her cage, or drop a ping pong ball in the aquarium for your beta fish to chase.

Regular playtime helps pets' minds active and busts boredom. Photo by cats.lovetoknow.com.

Regular playtime helps pets’ minds active and busts boredom. Photo by cats.lovetoknow.com.

Give your pets regular social interaction. Interacting regularly with people or other pets helps keep your pet’s mind active. Taking a trip to the dog park, having the kids play with the cat, etc. helps your pet bond with you, feel good and learn the rules of proper interaction, engaging his mind.

Supply toys that stimulate the mind.  Aside from playtime toys, to abate boredom you can provide mental stimulation to your pet through toys that challenge them. For dogs and cats, hide a treat in a puzzle toy or maze toy to challenge them to retrieve their treats. Foraging toys provide a challenge and reward for animals that are naturally foragers in the wild, so attach a foraging toy to a parrot’s cage or drop a moss ball into an aquarium to keep fish, particularly beta fish, chasing and grazing.

Foraging toys like this one challenge pets to keep boredom at bay. Photo by Drs. Foster and Smith.

Foraging toys like this one challenge pets to keep boredom at bay. Photo by Drs. Foster and Smith.

Try these tricks to keep your pet mentally stimulated. If you’re still puzzled by your pet or need more insights to help him or her, feel free to book a pet reading with me.

Understanding Anxiety in Pets

Companion animals bring us so much comfort and happiness, and we hope that loving and caring for them will help them feel loved, safe and secure. But sometimes our pets display anxious behavior no matter how much we love and care for them. When they do, it’s important to understand why so we can help lessen or alleviate it.

Know Their Nature. Understanding an animal’s natural tendencies, past and personal nature can help you understand his/her anxiety.

While most of our pets are bred in captivity, their DNA still carries characteristics of the type of animal or breed they are in the wild, and no matter how much we love them or work to make them feel safe, that DNA can make them more prone to nervousness or anxiety.

  • Animals that are prey in the wild, such as rodents, lizards, and birds, can be naturally jumpy at noises, movement or changes to their environments.
  • If animals naturally live in groups in the wild, such as dogs or birds, then being left alone can lead to anxiety because that’s not only an unnatural state, it can leave them vulnerable to danger.
  • Some breeds of dogs and cats are naturally high-energy and may become anxious when that energy isn’t managed well.

While their DNA is part of their makeup, other factors can play into your pet’s nature as well.

  • Animals may not naturally rebound from previous trauma or stress easily, and anxiety can be part of their nature because of it.
  • No matter their breed inclination, some animals, like people, have naturally sensitive natures, making them more prone to anxious behavior.

Knowing the natural inclination of an animal’s species/breed, past or personality can help you choose a companion animal that’s less prone to anxiety or to understand that his or her anxiety isn’t caused by you.

Because lizards, birds, and rodents are prey in the wild, they can be naturally jumpy or anxious as pets. Photo by Patti Haskins.

Because lizards, birds, and rodents are prey in the wild, they can be naturally jumpy or anxious as pets. Photo by Patti Haskins.

Meet Their Needs. Aside from basic feeding and shelter, animals have physical and mental needs that, if not met, can cause anxiety or acting out. Dogs, for example, need daily exercise to regulate their energy, and they can get rambunctious or anxious when they don’t get enough exercise. Parrots need daily mental stimulation through playing with foraging toys or learning tricks as well as time out of their cages, or they can become anxious. Understanding and meeting your pet’s physical and mental needs will help prevent or lessen anxiety.

Dogs need daily exercise to help them regulate their energy, keeping anxiety and acting out at bay. Photo by CanaryZoo.com

Dogs need daily exercise to help them regulate their energy, keeping anxiety and acting out at bay. Photo by CanaryZoo.com

Help Them Holistically. Even after understanding your pet’s nature and meeting his needs, anxious behavior can occur. When you can’t counteract nature, you can do many things holistically that help lessen anxiety in your companion animal. Herbal tinctures and supplements, as well as essential oils suitable for pets, are widely available to help your pet be more calm in a way that’s safer for him/her. I’m a big fan of Rescue Remedy for Pets, as it helps calm pets instantly. Read more at

Herbal Remedies for Dogs

5 Herbs to Reduce Stress in Your Cat

Herbal Remedies for Parrots

Understanding the causes of anxiety in your pet can give you better understanding to care for him or her.

If you’d like more understanding of your companion animal’s state of mind, feel free to book a reading with pet psychic Jennafer Martin to gain even more insights into his or her individual point of view or state of mind.

Picture That!

Most animal communication that we humans understand comes through an animal’s behavior. When a dog wags his tail, we understand that he’s excited or playful, and when a cat purrs, we know she’s content. We understand that a bird is feeling territorial or stressed if he nips when we get near his cage and that a fish may not be feeling well if she’s not eating. You get the idea. I’m sure you can point to many ways that your pet’s behavior communicates to you.

But there’s a more subtle way that animals communicate with us as well–they send us visual images or pictures to convey what’s on their minds.

Illustration by Stacey Reid

Illustration by Stacey Reid

Think back. Have you had a vision in your mind’s eye of your dog standing at the door to the backyard so you suddenly knew he wanted to go outside? Or seen a small video in your mind of your bird happily devouring a sunflower seed, letting you know he wanted a specific treat? Visions like these often come from animals to communicate what they want or need. It’s easy to dismiss them as your imagination, something I did the first few times that Pippin (a sun conure) sent me pictures of him contentedly perched on my shoulder. It took a few times of him sending that same image for me to realize that he was telling me he’d rather be with me than with in his cage. But it wasn’t my imagination–and images like this may not be yours, either. It may just be messages from an animal.

Animals live in a sensory world, so what they see, smell, hear, taste and feel is truly how they experience things. Sending visuals images is a natural way for animals to communicate, because words don’t really mean anything to animals, except for the energy with which they are said and the behavior they learn to associate with them. So instead of sending you a “hey, I want to go outside” sentence, they send pictures of them darting through an open door and cavorting in the grass.

When I’m doing readings with animals, they send me pictures, rather than words, to communicate. I asked Marley the kitten about his favorite toy, and he sent me a picture of a mouse on a string. And when I asked Ruby the dog about her past owners, she showed me a succession of pictures of her being tied up in the yard for long periods of time, so I knew she had been left alone a lot. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.

It’s not just domesticated animals that send images to communicate, either. As I was leaving a late-night fundraiser at the zoo, I stopped by the rhino enclosure and one mentally sent me a few pictures in a row of him falling asleep and then being awoken by people talking or music playing nearby. I was able to understand from the pictures he sent that all this partying was keeping him from sleep.

Animals definitely communicate in pictures! So the next time you suddenly get a picture in your mind about an animal, don’t dismiss it. Think about what the animal may be trying to communicate in a way other than words.