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By Rebecca Fending
As most pet owners know, it can be hard to keep your furry friend mentally stimulated while at home. Depending on the breed or type of pet, some need more entertainment than others. For days you just don’t want to take a long walk or big play session to tire them out, here are several ways you can make sure that your pet isn’t bored while at home.
“Pet TV” or Stimulation Videos
Did you know that you can find free, virtual entertainment for your animals? “Pet TV” is a great option for keeping your pet calm, stimulated or entertained while you’re out of the house or too busy in the next room. YouTube has a vast collection of videos for dogs and cats, ranging from one hour in length to 12.
This YouTube video is one I have personally used for my cat, a feisty tortoiseshell who would have me play with her forever if she had her way. Be prepared for your feline to paw or scratch at whatever screen you play this video off of–I recommend playing the video on a tablet or smart phone with a protective screen cover, just in case.
This video is a tried-and-true for my parents’ dog, a Boxer mix that regularly has to be walked twice a day with several intense games of fetch in between. The calming music mixed with playing pups seem to both keep her entertained without giving her a bad case of “The Zoomies” around the house.
You can accomplish two goals at once with stimulating eating mats for both cats and dogs. Differently textured mats can help your pet consume their food at a slower pace (helping decrease the number of regurgitation incidents, bloating or just generally upset tummies) while also stimulating the pleasure centers of their brains as they “forage” for their food.
Also known as “ruffle mats,” these mats are made with fringed felt fabric to simulate the sensation of hunting and gathering in grass or leaves for food. It helps to stimulate dogs’ brains through intensive use of their nose in sniffing out their dry food bits. Simply sprinkle your dog’s regular amount of dry food and make sure the bits are hidden well under the fringe. Machine washable and great for dogs of all sizes, this snuffle feeding mat from Chewy is a great option for your pooch.
If you’re looking for something that works with wet food for both cats and dogs, this slow feeder mat from Chewy is perfect. Simply smear their normal daily amount of canned food, or give them just a bit as a treat, with a spoon and place it on the floor. Not only do the textured silicone bumps and ridges help stimulate a pet’s brain, but they also aid in dental hygiene by gently scraping at the gum line to remove plaque build up from forming.
A great way to keep dogs and cats stimulated during the day time is to keep window blinds up and curtains open so that the view is easily accessible. Dogs are explorers by nature and like to keep up with their surroundings. It also helps them feel important as the on-duty guard for their house and family. Looking out windows is a great solution for dogs with anxiety disorders as it allows for them to see outside and around the perimeter of their house.
Cats also love looking out windows, by no surprise to anyone who has ever met an indoor cat. Especially the case with exclusively indoor cats, having a view to the outside is a great way to keep your kitty entertained without exposing them to the risks of being an outdoor cat. Be sure to open the window on occasion so your cat can bask in the direct sunlight, sniff the interesting smells and hear the exciting sounds of nature.
Another way you can keep pets entertained while at home is by implementing a rotation of toys. Instead of having all of their toys out at all times, designate one or two toys that are for special occasions or times of day.
For instance, if you know that you’re unable to engage your pet during the afternoon, replace a few of their normal toys with a fun puzzle-like toy. Something like a Kong toy filled with peanut butter (xylitol free!) for your dog to replace a couple of their normal chew toys can go a long way in stimulating their mind while you’re occupied. For cats, try replacing a few of their normal floor toys with an interactive toy to that they don’t get into trouble while you’re away.
If you’re someone who travels frequently, keep a few interactive or puzzle toys handy and only leave them out when you’re away for the weekend. Not only does this keep pets out of trouble, but it also helps them cope with you being away for longer than a few hours.
Proceed with caution!
Before trying out any of these tools for stimulation, be sure to supervise their behavior while indulging in these tips or products. That way you know your pets are safe and you can have peace of mind.