Are Your Pets Bored?

Did you know that you can prevent, reduce, and even eliminate many problem behaviors just by adding some enrichment activities to your pet’s life?

For many animals, boredom is a real problem. With our busy lives and long work days, our pets are often left to their own devices for far too many hours. Depending on the animal’s activity level, if we don’t give them something to do to occupy their time, they’ll find something to do themselves, and it’s usually not something that we want!

Things like chewing on the furniture and walls, excessive vocalizations, peeing or pooping in inappropriate places, and aggressive behaviors, are often symptoms of boredom.

Here are some simple solutions you can start implementing now to reduce your pet’s boredom:

Ditch the food bowl

Why waste perfectly good reinforcement and enrichment opportunities by allowing your pet to mindlessly eat out of a food bowl? Instead, try feeding your pets their meals via food puzzles, food dispensing toys, or training sessions. Get some more ideas here:

Foxy enjoys breakfast via food dispensing toys. 

Foxy enjoys breakfast via food dispensing toys. 

Take your pet for a sniff

Most people walk their dogs solely for elimination purposes or for exercise, but walks can also be a great way to engage your dog’s sense of smell, which is incredibly important for his/her behavioral health. Instead of walking with a specific destination and a time limit, go ahead and let you dog sniff around that tree for 10 minutes. He’ll be happier and so will you!

Other animals can benefit from being taken out to just sniff around as well. Consider leash and harness training your pet, or creating a temporary outdoor enclosure that can be easily moved so that your pet can explore novel environments and new, interesting smells.

Scavenger hunt!

Providing your pet with toys to play with while you’re gone is a great idea but you can make it even more interesting by hiding these toys for them to randomly find. Consider putting a toy between the couch cushions with just a tiny bit sticking out. You can also hide a toy partially behind a door or under a rug. You’ll love the look of surprise on your pet’s face when they discover their toys in the most random places!

Another option is to hide treats all around a room while your pet is somewhere else, then let them in the room to find the treats. Most animals LOVE this game once they get the hang of it!

Train your pet

Not only does training serve to create a more obedient and manageable pet, it also has the added benefit of enriching your pet’s life. Consider trick training as a fun alternative to the more serious obedience training that you’ve probably already done. Training for a particular sport like Agility or Treibball can be great fun for your dog, but don’t forget that your other animals can learn these same sports, even if they never actually compete. Try combining training and play with games like fetch and tug.

Need some inspiration? Check out Even though the site is dedicated to dogs, many other animals species have earned their “trick dog” titles as well!