We think it’s safe to say that most of us are bored these days. It seems forever ago that we could grab dinner or a drink with our friends; go to concerts or to the theater; or enjoy one of the many markets, festivals, or other events that St. Petersburg does so well.
But have you considered that your pet may be bored as well? Maybe they used to accompany you to a market or brewery, or they were used to hanging out with their own friends when you went to the park. Sure, they’re happy you’re home more, but that can lead to even more frustration for you if you’re working from home with a bored dog.
In this blog, we will tackle two issues you may by facing: a bored pet and how to successfully work from home with a pet, whether it be a cat or dog. We hope this will help you not only to hang on to your sanity, but also to increase your bond with your pet.
Working from home and maintaining both your sanity and your bond with your pet is possible!
You can’t hide from your pet
Trying to treat your house like it’s an office and ignoring your pet while your home isn’t really an option. Sure, if you have a dedicated room that you can shut the door to, that can help you get work done in peace. But you will likely find your pet camped out on the other side of the door, or worse, up to no good.
Your pet knows you’re home, and that can increase their anxiety and change the whole dynamic of their usual day. They just can’t understand why you aren’t spending time with them.
Your pet doesn’t know that you’re working, only that you’re home and not spending time with them.
How can I keep my pet busy?
Without an opportunity to release their energy, a dog can get stir crazy and engage in counter surfing, barking at any leaf that moves in the yard, digging out from under the fence; the list goes on. A frustrated, cooped-up dog has to find some way to release all of its pent up, unused energy and oftentimes it’s in a negative way.
Even cats can find all kinds of things to get into, as they invent their own ways to pass the time. Fun for them maybe, but not for you. Starting the day off on the right foot, or paw, can make all the difference. By getting some of their energy out at the beginning of the day, you can set the day up for success.
Try a walk around the block with your dog and you can both do some much needed exercise; and you may find your day is more productive too. Whenever you need a break from the computer or phone, take advantage of the time to use up some of your pet’s energy by playing fetch or tug of war, or give them some physical attention like a back scratch or belly rub.
Starting your day out with a walk can do wonders for both dog and owner!
More ways to relieve pet boredom
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 pack animals 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.
Tug of war and fetch are great ways to spend quality time with your dog and release their pent up energy.
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 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. 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 so that everything will be new again!
A bored pet can get into a lot of trouble! Even if your pet seems to have plenty of toys, they can become tired of the same ones day in and day out.
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 behaviors to help ward off destructive habits, like shredding that precious roll of toilet paper and climbing the curtains!
Perches, climbing surfaces, and scratching posts. Most cats like to position themselves on high places 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.
Investing time playing with your kitty pays off big when they’re happily snoozing throughout the rest of your work day.
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.
Recreate the 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.
Other ideas for success
Along with keeping your pet’s mind and body stimulated and, thus, tired out later, here are some other ways to make working at home with your pet a success:
Some pets are content just being near you; try putting their bed near your desk or work area.
If your pet isn’t too much of a distraction, try putting their bed near you to help them feel close to you and more content. Treats are another way we like to keep our pets content—or busy and quiet if we’re on a phone call or Zoom meeting. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for them. Treats should only make up a small portion of your pet’s diet.
An alternative to their regular treats that will still make them happy are healthy fruits and veggies! Carrots, apples, bananas, green beans, and blueberries are great choices! Steer clear of grapes, raisins, and onions. We also offer dental chews at both of our locations that will keep your pet busy, while not impacting their diet greatly.
Treats should only make up a small portion of your pet’s diet, but healthy fruits and veggies are definitely allowed and appreciated by many pets!
Covid-19 may very well change the way we work in the future, but whether you’re working from home temporarily or on a more long-term basis, we hope that these suggestions will help you and your pet work and play together and create an even stronger bond with each other.
Your pet’s bond with you can be even stronger as you work and play together.
A coronavirus health update
Some people still have concerns as to whether the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through pets, especially after recent news that house cats and tigers are contracting the virus. We hope the following will help answer some lingering questions.
Here at Northeast Animal Hospital and Downtown St. Pete Vet Clinic, it is our passion and privilege to be partners with you in your pet’s healthcare. We take that privilege very seriously and feel the responsibility to keep you apprised of any potential threats to your animal’s welfare.
Can my pet spread COVID-19?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, currently there is no evidence that pets can be a source of infection, or spread COVID-19 to people. But this is a fluid situation, and as we learn more, we will update you.
Is it safe to bring my pet to the hospital, even with curbside service?
Although our top priority has always been the well-being of pets, please know we are also committed to the health and safety of our clients and employees. To this commitment, we have in place and are following protocols for infectious diseases. We are diligently cleaning and disinfecting our hospital and are confident we can safely treat your pets. Please know you are in good hands with us.
At this time, we are not seeing pets for routine visits such as wellness exams or for vaccines, but if your pet is ill, please do not hesitate to make an appointment. Telemedicine is also available for some concerns. Please call us to see if your pet’s symptoms qualify for a phone or FaceTime appointment.
In the meantime, the best information on this outbreak can be found at the CDC website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Please check our own website for updates on our policies and procedures: covid-19-practice-updates
All of us at Northeast Animal Hospital and Downtown St. Pete Vet Clinic are grateful for your loyalty, and we appreciate the privilege to be part of your family’s healthcare. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.