Your pet may be a couch potato or an active breed, but either way, they can benefit from a brain workout! Mental activity proves to be just as important as physical! Pet enrichment allows your companion to use their natural skills and instincts. Just like in people, healthy stimulation can improve mental health and tackle boredom.
How can I tell if my pet is bored?
Many undesirable behaviors in our pets can be solved by giving them some extra activities to burn off energy. Here are some key signs your pet might need some extra stimulation.
- Destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, and scratching furniture or curtains.
- Even if your cat or dog is a couch potato, you should still observe periods of active playtime. If they’re inactive and never seem to get up from naptime, they could be bored.
- Constant escape attempts.
What kinds of pet enrichment can I implement at home?
If your working breed dog is pacing and digging through the trash, or your cat won’t stop scratching the couch, they might benefit from some pet enrichment activities.
A tired pet is less likely to get into trouble while you’re gone. The first step to battling boredom is to make sure your pet has plenty of exercise. A short stroll around the block isn’t likely to cut it for any dog. Make sure walks are stimulating by allowing them to sniff and explore.
In addition to walks, allow your pet space and time to run freely and chase a ball. Vigorous, challenging exercise is the key to tuckering your dog out.
Engage your cat in play with various toys to chase to get them moving regularly. If you don’t have a cat tower, set one up where they have space to jump and climb safely.
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Being mentally tired is just as important as being physically tired. Puzzle toys that require mental work for your dog to reach a reward are especially stimulating. Stuffed Kongs and snuffle mats provide them with work to do when you leave.
Cats benefit from interactive play that simulates hunting prey. Be sure to provide an open window where they can watch what happens outdoors. Sturdy scratching posts and cat trees that allow them space up high to observe or cat caves that allow them to hide are also beneficial.
For any species, rotate out their toys and incorporate new ones to keep things interesting. A toy they haven’t seen in a while is more interesting than if it’s always sitting in the toy basket.
Training does double duty. Your dog will be better behaved and it provides a mental challenge. Learning obedience commands and new skills are critical for not only providing pet enrichment but strengthening your bond. Rewarding your dog for a job well done is incredibly valuable.
This can also include giving your dog a job well suited to their natural skills. Teach your German Shepherd nosework to put their sniffer to use. If your guardian breed has a big alert bark, train them when you want them to “speak” and when you want some “quiet”. Your terrier might like a sandbox in the backyard where he can dig for toys and treats.
Although the most important time to introduce your pet to new sights, sounds, and smells is as a youngster, it’s never too late to let them explore the outside world. Going on walks and meeting new people and animals in a new place is wonderful pet enrichment. Be sure to reward good behavior like walking by your side and greeting people politely.
If your dog likes to make friends, take a trip to the dog park or set up a playdate with another friend’s dog. Nothing beats playing with a member of your own species who knows the language. Plus, they’ll be good and tired afterward!
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