Is your pet bored?
Many pets live in households where family members are away during the day. Both parents work away from home, and the children attend school. Dogs and cats end up being home alone during the day, sometimes all day, with little to keep them occupied. So, pets can become quite bored.
Please note that “Type-A” dogs may suffer extreme boredom and stress when their owner is away. This is known as separation anxiety, and due to the dog being anxious, the dog may exhibit destructive behaviors. The bored dog scenario is distinct from separation anxiety, so if you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, you may want to read this article focusing on this topic.
What can a concerned pet parent to do? Here are a few pet boredom busters.
When leaving their home, pet owners can leave a radio or television on for their pet. The “white noise effect” seems to have a soothing effect, as long as the sound isn’t harsh, such as heavy metal music. The melodic sound of background music or just the background noise of people taking on the radio or television is probably better than silence. Plus, most animals seem to prefer seeing images of other animals or nature programs on the television.
Another good idea is to exercise your pet before you leave. Exercise generates serotonin in the brain and thus has a calming and mood-stabilizing effect. A cat that has played or a dog that has had a good run for 20 to 30 minutes before the owner departs will be less anxious and probably ready for a little restful nap.
More ideas for cats:
It doesn’t cost a lot to prevent your indoor cat from becoming bored. Just think like a cat and ask yourself, “What kinds of things do I like to do?” Leaving fun things for your kitty to do will help to make his day challenging, fun and active, plus it will probably help him to feel more secure in his environment.
Toys – Leave various types of cat toys around the house during the day.
Balls – These are great for chasing and cloth mice are good for batting and biting. Just make sure the toys are safe for cats and that no loose parts will fall off.
Catnip – Many cats love catnip since it relaxes them. They really seem to go crazy for it. Toys can be bought with catnip inside, or you could provide your indoor cat with his own little tray of fresh growing catnip.
Hiding – Provide old cardboard boxes or paper sacks around the house with a few toys inside for added fun.
Climbing and jumping – This is great exercise for your cat, and it is one of the most natural things they like to do. To prevent them using your furniture as their cat gym, get them a cat tree. These come in all sizes and shapes and kitties will be able to climb, stretch, perch, and sharpen their claws.
More ideas for dogs:
Dog Chews – These include deer antlers, pizzle sticks, bully sticks, hooves, toobles, rawhide, pig ears, knuckle bones, etc. Dog chews can provide hours of chewing satisfaction. But be sure to choose the right size and hardness for your dog’s particular chewing style. If your dog bites off chunks or consumes them quickly, the chew could cause digestive upset or intestinal blockage.
Real Bones – These can be safe for some dogs and not for others, depending on how powerfully they chew. Intense chewers can suffer from tooth fractures. Although there is debate over raw vs. cooked bones, it is probably best to provide fresh raw bones since cooking a bone makes it brittle and likely to break into chunks. These chunks could then embed themselves in your dog’s mouth or digestive system.
Knotted Ropes – Chewing a knotted rope can massage gums and keep your dog’s teeth clean. Some even include rubber toys or tennis balls to make the experience even more fun. You can hide biscuits in the knots to encourage your dog and add interest. If your puppy is teething, you can soothe aching gums by soaking the rope in broth or water and freezing it.
Dental Devices – These come in various shapes and sizes of flexible, nubby edges which massage gums and clean teeth. Some are designed so you can put doggy toothpaste in the grooves and let your dog brush his own teeth!
Fleece toys – Many retrievers and other dogs seem to find comfort in carrying a soft toy with them, and then presenting it to their owners when they arrive home from a long day at work. Squeakers may encourage the toy’s “destruction”, but most dogs continue to enjoy the toys even without their stuffing.
Brain Toys / Self-amusement
Buster Cubes – Made of durable plastic, this cube gives dogs mental stimulation, exercise and relief from boredom. Fill with bite sized dry pet food or treats, and the food is released as the dog rolls the cube with its nose or its paws.
Tricky Treat Balls – These are soft rubber balls having a specially designed food dispensing hole in one side. Since they are dimpled, they are easier to carry and are quieter on wooden floors than the Buster Cubes. They are also easier for younger and easily frustrated dogs who might give up on a more difficult toy.
Huge Balls – Herding breeds especially love playing soccer alone or with you. Jolly Balls have handles, and Indestruciballs can be filled with sand or water for more challenging fun!
Suspended Balls – This is similar to children playing tether ball. Boxers and bull dog breeds seem to especially enjoy suspended balls. But for safety reasons, the ball should be suspended from a horizontal pole, not a vertical one.
When you have more time:
On weekends when you have more time, be sure to provide more exercise. Spend more time playing with your kitty, and you can take your dog to the dog park or play fetch or frisbee. Spending quality time by doing whatever it is that you and your pet love to do together should bring happiness and contentment to your pet and prevent boredom.
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