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Ergonomics and Your Pet


Why is it Important? 

There are several ergonomic factors to consider with having and caring for pets that make the experience easier for the pet and the owner. Cats and dogs are probably the most common household pets that have the highest requirements in terms of accommodations and care needs. 

Dogs as Pets 

Dogs tend to be more suitable to living an outdoor existence but they are also less independent than cats and must be more closely supervised. In this way, having a dog is like having a child that never grows up. In terms of ergonomics, besides the pet’s relationship to his environment, we have to consider the dynamics of the relationship between the pet and the owner.

If a dog is chosen as the family pet, it must be decided whether it is to be allowed access to the house. Some dogs do not readily adapt to indoor living and require the run of a yard. The dogs activity requirements tend to be specific to breed type. Very small dogs such as Chihuahuas tend to be suited for the home as are very large dogs with docile dispositions such as St. Bernards. However, dogs which tend to be more hyperactive such as terriers and shelties need the freedom of the outdoors and may become disruptive if confined to the home.

With puppies it is advisable to section-off parts of the house and make these areas dog proof. We know that a puppy will chew on anything and everything it can get its teeth around. He must therefore be occupied with objects suitable for chewing. These simulated bones are made for the purpose. 

Dogs should have feeders that are raised off the ground at a level appropriate to their height so they do not have to reach down to eat or drink. This ensures proper ergonomic postures and is easier on digestion. 

There are now orthopedic foam type sleeping surfaces available for dogs that can be electrically heated to provide warmth from the elements or contain magnets both of which soothe aching muscles and joints especially in the aging dog. 

Control of the Dog Away from the House 

It is not advisable to let a dog run wild unless on a farm or country environment. Dogs that are left outside should have appropriate shelter depending on the size of the dog.  

Canines should be walked daily outside of the house if the yard area is too small to allow for sufficient exercise. To prepare for any unexpected encounter on the walk it is recommended that a spring loaded leash be used. These leashes prevent jerking on the dog’s neck and thereby prevent damage to the associated soft tissue structures. They also lessen the trauma to the human at the other end of the leash. Body type leashes as used with seeing-eye dogs are also better tolerated than neck leashes. Dogs not on a leash should attend obedience schools. These schools can be lifesaving and make it a lot easier for the owner to control the dog. Techniques based on behavior modification are the best way to control a dog’s behavior and can spare the owner much frustration in the long run.  

Controlling the Dogs Behavior Through Technology 

Electronic technology allows us to create artificial “fences” or electronic containment systems in which a predetermined perimeter is set up electronically and the dog receives a mild shock or an uncomfortable ultrasonic frequency is emitted if the dog goes beyond the defined border.  

An intractable problem for many dog owners is barking. Again, with simple behavior modification techniques it is possible to eliminate the problem by pairing the dogs barking with a high frequency sound wave source. Every time the dog barks a high frequency sound machine emits a high frequency sound which is uncomfortable to his ears. The sound ceases when the dog stops barking. The dog will come to expect the unpleasant sensation everytime he starts barking. This response will now tend to be suppressed. 

Cats as Pets 

Most experts believe that cats are best kept inside the house unless they will stay within the confines of the property. Cats are small enough that they can have their own entrance doors into the house but this may allow neighbor cats from also gaining entrance. There is a radio controlled device that when attached to your cat’s collar it sends a signature signal to the door receiver. This door then will only open for your cat. These type doors are also available for dogs. Cats tend to be more independent and easier to maintain than dogs. But they tend to have more mobility within the house and have easier access to counters and high places that would be inaccessible to dogs. For this reason they present a potential danger to other small pets like birds or fish.  

Cats should also have access to feeders that are raised off the floor and should be supplied with sharpening posts to stretch and exercise their claws. Cats tend to feel secure on platform surfaces that are elevated off the ground and it is a good idea to provide a cat with its own platform tower. There are also orthopedic type beds for cats that are supplied with a thermostatically controlled heating element.

Cats are vulnerable when left tied up outside and restrained without the means to run freely to escape a dangerous predator. In this situation the cat should have enough slack in the leash to jump onto a perch or under a shelter that is inaccessible to dogs. Finally as with dogs cats should be supplied with their own set of toys with which to play and interact. 

Controlling the Cats Behavior Through Technology 

Pairing ultrasonic technology with behavior modification is an effective way of controlling a cat’s access to areas in the house that are off limits. Cats have an obvious ability over dogs of getting onto counters and shelves or just about anywhere in the house. A device that emits ultrasonic waves after being set off by a motion detector causes the cat to be repelled if it enters a restricted area of the house.