Does your dog like to bark, dig and chew everything in his line of sight? Before you panic and head straight for doggy boot camp, the solution may be simpler than you think. Just as humans do, dogs get bored. Unlike humans, however, dogs have fewer means of passing the time. Instead, bored dogs can develop unhealthy behaviors and stress-related habits, such as excessive personal licking or chewing, which can potentially cause them harm.
Environment enrichment can help.
Environment enrichment is the process of making your pet’s living space engaging and stimulating in order to decrease boredom and avoid any associated consequences. Keeping your pets busy and engaged with mental games, active training and enough daily exercise will protect both your pets and your furniture. You can thank us later.
Environment Enrichment 101
There are a few simple ways to improve your furry friend’s immediate living space and help encourage mental and physical development, including the following:
1. Use Food-Dispensing Toys
Toys that dispense food are an excellent way for your dog to beat daily stress and boredom. Keeping your dog busy while you’re gone by making them work for treats, or their entire meal, keeps them interested and engaged. They are far less likely to be distracted by an arm chair or potential digging spot if they are being rewarded and encouraged with their favorite foods. Additionally, using toys that encourage dogs to eat more slowly can even improve digestive health.
2. Schedule Puppy Play Dates
As wonderful as engaging toys and human interaction can be for your pets, other dogs provide stimulation that we simply cannot. Regular play dates with other friendly dogs is one of the best ways to keep your dog learning and consistently engaged. Provide your pup with the opportunity to run, sniff and explore a new, safe space with a brand-new friend!
3. Stimulate Their Senses
Much like humans, dogs need variation to keep them learning and developing. Whenever you can, provide your pup with the opportunity to explore new spaces. Maybe try a new trail on your morning walk, take a trip to the beach or pack your smaller furry friend into a secure bike basket and go for a ride. Allowing your dog to experience new things will keep his senses keen and improve both his physical and mental health.
Want to Know More?
If you have any further questions about environment enrichment, or any unhealthy behaviors you have seen appear in your pet, contact your veterinarian for additional resources and support.
Stimulation Is Important for Cats Too
Just like their canine counterparts, cats need stimulation. Boredom in cats can prevent itself as inter-cat aggression, over eating, anxiety or over-grooming as seen similarly in dogs, but environment enrichment can help here too. Since cats are such sensory driven creatures, puzzles and games are some of the best ways to appeal to their natural instinct — and make for a far more confident and less stressed cat. You can use some of the following tools to quickly enhance your cat’s living space and make sure she is happy, healthy and stress free.
- Scratch posts allow your cat to indulge in a habit that comes naturally, while reducing stress and stretching muscles at the same time.
- Puzzle feeders engage your cat’s hunting instinct and ability and keeps the mind moving, even at dinner time.
- Tunnels and hideaways are simple and necessary for even the most confident cat. Make your own fabric tunnels for hours of endless fun.