5 Pet Enrichment Ideas To Entertain Dogs and Cats When You’re Not Home

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Pet Enrichment Ideas To Entertain Dogs and Cats

When does your pet do when they’re home alone? Having accidents, vocalizing, and becoming destructive are signs that your pet may be under stimulated or could be experiencing separation anxiety. These pet enrichment ideas can help prevent harmful behaviors, or just keep your pet entertained until you get back from work or school

5 Ways To Entertain Your Pet When They’re Home Alone

1. Stuffed food toys. Puzzles and interactive pet toys can be physically and mentally stimulating, but most are designed for use under supervision. Food toys like a stuffed Kong Classic or lick mat can be safe for use when you’re not home so long as your pet is not a heavy chewer. You can stuff then freeze their toy the night before to create an even more challenging puzzle.

2. Playdates or sitters. Having a professional pet sitter or dog walker come by can break up a long workday and give your pet some socialization and entertainment, and give them something to look forward to while they wait for you to come home.

3. Window watching. Simply giving your pet access to a window can provide hours of entertainment and stimulation, especially cats. You can even set up a birdbath or bird feeder just outside your cat’s window perch to create their own personal “peep” show. For dogs, though, window access can be overstimulating. If your dog is prone to getting worked up and barking excessively when they observe the outdoors, they’re better off with the opposite - limited window access, possibly with the use of curtains or frosted window stickers to obscure the view.

4. Music and TV for pets. While cats and dogs don’t seem to follow complicated storylines or care about character-driven plots, some pets do seem to respond to visuals, especially with made-for-pets media. There have been research studies demonstrating the positive effects of sounds of other animals playing, music in certain genres - as it turns out, reggae and soft rock are winners - and stimulating visuals like videos of wildlife. Pets are also soothed by the sound of their owner’s voice and in some cases settle down when they hear a recording of their human reading a story. Whether you try TV or music for your pet, always keep the volume low - your pet’s extra-sensitive ears will thank you.

5. Another pet. (Maybe!) If your pet is an “only child,” you might be thinking of adding another to keep them company when nobody else is home. In dogs, bringing in a second has been shown to only make separation anxiety related behaviors worse, and what’s more, the second dog is likely to pick up the first dog’s bad habits. In cats, though, adding a feline companion seems to alleviate separation anxiety and stop destructive behaviors. However, some cats experience territorial anxiety. Only add a new pet to your family if you’re ready for double the work, double the commitment, and the great possibility that it will not resolve your first pet’s issues.

Keep in mind that cats and dogs sleep for 12 to 20 hours per day. All it takes is a little extra enrichment to tire them out so they’ll nap for the majority of the time when you’re away. These ideas, combined with plenty of exercise and attention when you’re home, can help keep your dog or cat mentally and emotionally fulfilled.

 

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