This past year, millions of pets were added to homes across the country. Dubbed “pandemic pets”, they offered the extra love and attention many of us craved while staying home. Studies show there are many health benefits of owning a pet, ranging from decreased blood pressure to decreased feelings of loneliness. As the country begins to reopen and families get back to old routines, the THRIVE Guide is here to help you and your pet adjust to our new normal. As you return to the office and kids return to the classroom, be sure to provide enough mental stimulation to keep your pet happy or you’ll be saying “Help! My pet is bored!” Both dogs and cats can experience boredom, and the negative behavior they tend to exhibit from it can range from mildly annoying to destructive!
For dogs especially, boredom can be a particularly expressive issue, with destructive behavior like chewing, digging, pawing, whining, barking, and jumping. And even though your cat spends much of their day napping and independent, they can show repetitive behaviors like overgrooming, picking fights, and uninterested inactivity. As a result, both dogs and cats can create their own stimulation by overeating or creating new negative responses.
Like humans, your dog or cat need entertainment! Here are some ways to prevent boredom from developing in your pets.
What Do I Do When My Dog Is Bored?
Boredom in dogs can express itself in a variety of ways. Common ways of fending off boredom include:
It’s a common note that dogs love to go for walks! And for good reason too – sniffing, running, playing, and enjoying the outside with your dog through running, hiking, biking, or even just throwing the ball are great for you and your pup. These activities can lead to more mental stimulation and physical energy. You can try training on the go as well by making your pup pay attention to your movements and their own!
Toys can be a great option to keep your dog entertained. For some dogs, toys aren’t an option or are uninteresting. But for others, longer-lasting chew toys, food puzzles, fillable toys, tug ropes, and even stuffed toys are great options to provide for a bored dog! You can strategically fill a food puzzle toy with your dog’s favorite snacks and treats to keep them busy and happy.
Need a longer lasting treat? Fill a toy with peanut butter, add some of their favorite chewy treats, and freeze! Your dog will love the taste and sensation and entertain themselves for hours.
Dogs love to train! Whether it’s basic commands like sit and stay, or more complex tricks, learning new techniques can provide the mental stimulation your dog craves. You can play nose games with your dog and hide treats around the house to create a tracking game. Engaging in more physical play training such as fetch, and learning new dog park commands can keep them mentally engaged and on the go!
What Do I Do If My Cat Is Bored?
Cats may seem like the perfect independent entertainers, but even your feline friends need some mental and physical exercise. Try these perfect options for keeping your cat entertained:
Interactive toys can provide your bored cat with exactly what they need! Toys your cat can chase or chew, be they battery or human powered, will keep your cat’s physical and mental energy going. Scratching posts and horizontal scratchers also provide them with both physical enjoyment and an acceptable alternative to scratching your couch! These toys also serve as exercise for your cat to enjoy chasing around your home.
Trees & Towers
Your cat enjoys keeping an eye on things that are going on around it. With tall cat trees or towers, your cat can spy on your neighborhood through windows or observe your entire home! An even better option if there is the option of bird watching or staring at squirrels from the inside.
Like dogs, cats enjoy treat treasure hunts as a form of mental stimulation. Hide their favorites around the home or try some training to reinforce and encourage positive behavior in your home!
It’s impossible to avoid boredom in a pet, as we all can lead busy lives. But with the tips above, and some quality time with them, you can make their lives more enjoyable and strengthen the bond between you and your pet!
Do you have more questions about being a pet parent? Be sure to check out the THRIVE Guide for Pet Parents weekly to get the answers to your most popular questions. For specific questions and routine care, book an appointment at your local THRIVE. Our veterinarians are here to provide exceptional and essential care for your pet. Don’t wait – book a nose-to-tail pet exam today!