How Can You Tell If Your Dog or Cat Is Bored?

Phasing in the Fun

Cats in particular may need to have their food gradually added to the puzzle toys. For example, at first I put a portion of their meals in their bowls and a portion into two toys. I move the toys around and show them how to use them. Sometimes I may smear a bit of canned food onto the toys to encourage them to explore them. This technique also works for dogs.

Another way I encourage my cats to “hunt” for their meals is by hiding their food bowls around the house. I start by placing one bowl in the cat’s normal feeding area, then place additional bowls in other areas that I know the cat will walk by or rest close to. Once a cat starts to consistently eat from the bowls, you can move them a few feet away from the original locations. This will encourage the cat to explore the house and search for his food. In multiple-pet households, scatter several toys in different rooms or levels of the house. In the beginning, always closely monitor pets to make sure they know how to work a toy and ensure that there is no fighting over food treasure. You can always close a door or use a pet gate to ensure that one pet does not eat all the food meant for two or more.

Movement, Companionship Are Key

Another way to fight boredom is to make sure your pets are getting enough physical exercise. Taking a dog on at least a daily walk is a good way to provide exercise and enhance mental enrichment. Engaging your cat in a daily game of chase using an item dangling from a fishing pole or tossing an object she can retrieve can also fulfill her physical and mental stimulation needs. Offer various cat trees or ledges for your cat to climb up or jump onto.

Social interaction is vital as well. Make sure you spend quality one-on-one time with your pet. It could be engaging in games, training desirable behaviors using positive reinforcement, or just petting or snuggle time. Remember, no matter what the activity is, spending time with your pet is one surefire way to combat his boredom. And if you’ve tried all these recommendations but still feel like your pet is “acting bored,” don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

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