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September 02, 2020 4 min read

Have you noticed your cat or dog seems bored or depressed? Has their mood or behavior changed recently? Some common signs of boredom in pets include over- or under-eating, destructive behavior, over-grooming, seeking lots of attention, and sleeping more than usual. 

Chronic boredom can even lead to depression and anxiety, which is just as unpleasant for dogs and cats as it is for humans. The good news is that there are tons of great ways to help your pet stay entertained, mentally stimulated, and healthy!

Here are a few of our favorite pet-enrichment ideas to keep your furry friend busy:

1. Make sure your pet has access to a window

It’s common for both cats and dogs to get bored or agitated when they can’t see what’s going on outside. Even if your pet has lots of space to play and explore inside, it’s all space they know. The outdoors is always changing, and watching the activity from inside can help keep your pet interested and mentally stimulated throughout the day.

Bored Cat Looking Out Window

Make sure there is a comfortable, warm place right next to the window for your dog or cat to sit, and place a bird feeder or birdbath outside your pet’s window for extra entertainment!

2. Bring some outdoor scents inside

It’s hard for humans to imagine the amazing sensory world of our cuddly family members. Dogs’ sense of smell is somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than ours. While cats aren’t quite as adept sniffers as dogs, smell is still their primary tool for identifying people and objects

New smells are always interesting to cats and dogs, so bringing in new plants with interesting or new smells will catch their attention immediately.

Curious Cat on Table with Book Smelling Plant

Here are a few ideas of things to bring indoors to provide sensory enrichment for cats or dogs and help keep their nose and mind occupied:

  • Flowers (gardenias, roses, and jasmine are great, fragrant options)
  • Pinecones
  • Fresh leaves
  • Grass
  • Bird feathers
  • Firewood

3. Arrange a playdate

There’s nothing like friends and companionship to help ward off boredom and keep your pet busy! Chances are, you know at least one other pet owner who would be interested in setting up a playdate.

Dog and Cat Cuddling on a Playdate in the Grass

Playdates provide socialization and stimulation for your pet and if you meet at a park or a friend's house, a new place to explore!

Socialized pets are less likely to become isolated and bored, and they tend to be happier as a result. Just be sure to ask about the temperament of your pet’s new playmate to make sure they’ll be compatible with your furry one and increase the chances of them becoming fast friends.

4. Try interactive toys and puzzle feeders

Toys, in general, are a great way to keep your pet entertained and occupied. But interactive toys are especially useful when it comes to combating boredom and providing mental stimulation for your little one.

Tiny Puppy Dog Playing with Blue Toy

Interactive and puzzle toys vary in function, size, and difficulty level, but they’re all intended to entertain pets, stimulate their brains, and satisfy their natural instincts.

Some of our favorite interactive toys are the Kong Puzzlements ones, which engage your pet’s problem-solving skills, and the Starmark Treat Dispensing Looper Toy, which makes mealtime more fun and allows them to use their natural hunting/foraging instincts.

5. Play some indoor games together

Spending quality time with your pet is one of the most important things you can do for their health and happiness, and it’s a great way to prevent them from getting chronically bored. Of course, sometimes it’s nice to just cuddle up on the couch together, but incorporating some fun indoor games into your routine will provide regular cognitive stimulation, exercise, and socialization. 

Alert Cat Standing Against Indoor Gate Seeking Attention

Here are a few ideas:

  • Set up a treasure hunt:Hide a few treats around the house and help your pet find each one, giving them praise and encouragement along the way.
  • Try hide and seek: If you’ve taught your dog to stay and come, you’ve also taught them to play hide and seek -- a great dog-enrichment game. Simply tell them to stay, go find a good hiding spot, and then call them once and wait for them to find you. To help motivate them, have a few treats with you and reward them each time they find you.
  • Play bubble chase: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Just blow a few bubbles and watch as your pet figures out that they can pop them with their teeth or paws and has a ball trying to catch each one before it hits the floor.

6. Exercise!

Nothing makes a dog happier or more entertained than running around and getting tuckered out. If your dog is being hyperactive, barking, whining, being needy, destroying items around your house, or acting up in some other way, they may simply be craving some much-needed exercise.

Excited Dog Running on Path Through Grass

Regularly walking, running, or playing fetch with your dog not only helps stave off boredom, but it also makes them genuinely happy and strengthens your bond. A recent study found that dogs release the same “feel good” chemicals when they exercise as humans do, leading to what is commonly known as runner’s high.

Looking for ways to keep your pet entertained and occupied?

At King Duke’s, we know that a busy pet is a happy pet. We treat your little one like family and we love helping you find products to make their life better and more fun.

Shop online or visit our store in Beaverton to find great interactive toys, treats, leashes, and other pet products to keep your pet happy and entertained.

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