Are your pets bored? Fortunately for them, it’s National Anti-Boredom Month! While this month is meant for humans, it’s a great time to banish boredom for your four-legged friends as well!
A bored dog can be a destructive dog, and cats can find all kinds of things to get into, as they invent their own ways to pass the time. Pets need mental stimulation, but we love to spoil our pets and that means they don’t have to work for their food, our attention, or our affection –and they probably have a whole basket full of toys too!
So just how do you keep your pet busy, entertained and out of trouble? Here are our favorite ways to relieve pet boredom.
For dogs: Dogs that are bored tend to get into trouble by looking for ways to entertain themselves; usually by excessive chewing, barking, digging, and other destructive behaviors. Proper stimulation occupies both their bodies and their minds.
Play: Dogs are social and would rather spend time with us than do much of anything else. Play is good for your dog mentally, emotionally, and physically. Play a game of “treat hide and seek,” starting with “guess which hand.” When they get good at this, try hiding treats around the house. Play a game of fetch or tug-or-war with them.
Exercise: Change up your walking routine and let your dog stop and smell the roses –or fire hydrants. If you’re taking the same route every day, your dog gets used to the same mundane sights and smells. Try exploring new neighborhoods or parks. Allowing your dog ample time to smell their surroundings gives them great mental stimulation.
Toys: While your dog may have TONS of fun squeaky toys and chew things, interactive and puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog’s mind occupied and mentally stimulated. Look for toys that will make your dog work to remove a treat, or ones that will launch a ball for unending games of fetch. But back to that basket of toys again, just like kids, dogs get bored with the same old toys. Give your dog access to only a few at a time and swap them out regularly.
Play date with friends: Organize a doggie social, or take them to doggie day camp and give your dog some meaningful interaction and socialization with other dogs.
Take them somewhere exciting: St. Petersburg is full of dog friendly restaurants, cafes, and breweries –even a dog beach! Meeting new people and dogs, as well as having new sights and smells to enjoy, provides plenty of mental stimulation.
For Cats: Cats are natural hunters, so the life of leisure we think they want often leads to boredom. Consider how cats live in the wild and try to recreate some of their instinctual behavior to help ward off destructive habits, like shredding the roll of toilet paper and climbing the curtains!
Perches, climbing surfaces, and scratching posts: Most cats like to be high to watch all that goes on around them. Consider installing a window perch so they can observe the great outdoors. A cat tree can provide height, a cubby for them to hide in, and a scratching post, all in one.
Interactive toys: Toys that encourage play like wand toys with a mouse or feathers at the end, and puzzle toys that require solving to receive a food reward are great ways to engage the mind and use energy to ward off bad behavior.
Catnip: Toys containing catnip can make even the most uninterested kitty excited to play again. Or if your cat likes chewing on your (cat-safe) plants, offer them a catnip plant that they can nibble on, and let your other plants breathe a sigh of relief.
Make them hunt: A great activity to get your cat exercising is to make them chase their kibble, instead of simply offering it in a bowl. Tossing it one piece at time makes them run and chase after it and leads to a worn out and happy-bellied kitty.