Keeping Pets Busy: Tips and Tricks

Workdays are tough enough, but leaving your furry best friend at home alone can also induce anxiety, panic, guilt, and worry. So how do you keep your pet happy, preoccupied, and safe while you’re out? Here are some suggestions to try when you find yourself away from home for the 8-hour stretch.

Tried and True Treats and Toys

For dogs, fill a KONG or other treat dispenser with peanut butter, cheese, or other goodies. Either hide it where your dog can find it, or give it to your pup right before you leave. Supplement yummy treats with some brain candy too by finding puzzles that will keep your dog busy — we like the IQ Treat Ball and the Dog Treat Maze. For high power chewers, look for seriously indestructible toys such as made-for-dogs ropes or a really tough Nylabone.

For cats, KitNipBox and MeowBox both offer engaging toys and treats shipped to your home every month. Bonus: the actual box it’s shipped in tends to be extremely popular with kitties too (of course)!

If you’ve got the time in the morning, sprinkle treats or kibble throughout the house as part of a self-styled scavenger hunt. This makes getting out the door a little easier — you can sneak out while your dog or cat goes hunting.

Song and Dance

Both cats and dogs enjoy watching “television,” meaning the ability to watch the outside world through a window. Leave curtains open and put a pillow on a chair in front of the window so your pet can jump up and see what’s going on out there. Some pets are even inclined to watch literal TV: DogTV (available from DirectTV) broadcasts fun content designed for dogs and Videos for your Cat streams video of fish, birds, and games on YouTube.

If your pet is more into music or sound, playing classical music can help soothe your dog. A recent study of music for shelter dogs confirms that classical music and audiobooks have a calming effect — The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe performed by Michael York was reported to work wonders. Amy Bowman, PhD researcher at University of Glasgow, warns that dogs, like people, prefer to listen to “a variety of music and not the same thing over and over again,” so change the station every day or play podcasts or audiobooks. For pets suffering from anxiety, you can also try WholeTones, Through a Dog’s Ear, or iCalmCat — music specifically made for relaxation.

A Tired Dog is a Good Dog

Since dogs are a little less independent than their feline counterparts, you might benefit from setting playdates for your pup; we recommend using the BarkHappy app for easy matchmaking. If you have the means, drop them off at a doggy daycare where they can socialize with other dogs, or schedule a walker to come by and take your dog out with an app like Rover. If these options aren’t a great fit, try a long walk before you leave. Remember: dogs and cats sleep about 18 hours a day, so if you get most of the energy out before going, they’ll probably snooze through the hours you’re away.

Pet Tech

There are many new gadgets and apps that make it easy to check in on your pet throughout the day. Our favorites are PetCube — a little cube camera that streams to your phone and allows you to see, hear and speak to your pet — and Dog Monitor, a similarly-featured app that includes video, voice, and an activity log.

How do you keep your pet busy during the day? Share your tricks of the trade in the comments below!

When it comes to protecting your pet’s health, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance covers the whole kitty and ka-poodle, including most alternative treatments like acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and chiropractic care. Find out more about our dog and cat insurance by getting a free quote. Bonus: each quote means a donation to our foundation, which provides medical care to homeless pets.

Content provided by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Policies are underwritten and issued by ACE American Insurance Company, Indemnity Insurance Company of North America, ACE Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Atlantic Employers Insurance Company, members of the Chubb Group.

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