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Does your pet get bored when he's alone?

04/09/2023 Upbringing & behaviour All
This blog was written in collaboration with Patricia Ceuppens, Certified Dog parenting and behavior coach at Smiling Dogs.

Discover how to keep your loyal companion happy! 

We all know that life can be pretty busy sometimes and that you can't be with your pet all the time. Don't worry, in this blog, we'll discuss something you may have already worried about: boredom in pets when they're alone. In animals, boredom usually manifests itself in sleepiness: when they don't know what to do, they sleep. However, they can keep themselves perfectly occupied even without your presence. We'll give you great tips & tricks to make sure your furry friend is never bored, even when you're not around.

Boredom in dogs

Okay, first let's talk about our dear four-legged friends, the dogs! We all know that dogs are true social butterflies and love the company of their favourite person. But sometimes they need to be alone and that can be quite difficult for them. Dogs are highly sensitive beings, and they can quickly become bored and anxious when left alone for too long. Fortunately, there are some great ways to ensure that your loyal companion never gets bored, even when you're not around.

The first thing to understand is that dogs need both physical and mental stimulation. Simply put, they have energy that needs to get out and they enjoy it when their clever brain is challenged. When dogs get bored, they can express this in various ways, such as excessive barking, chewing on furniture, house soiling, and destructive behaviour. But don't worry, there are ways to prevent this behaviour and keep your furry friend happy and occupied.

Interactive toys


Interactive toys are a great way to entertain dogs and keep their minds active. There are countless toys specifically designed to keep dogs occupied. These combine play, reward and mental stimulation in one! You can also choose toys that offer challenging activities, such as finding hidden toys or solving puzzles. This keeps them active and entertained, even when you're not around.

Chewing toys


Another great idea is to offer chewing toys. Chewing is a natural behaviour for dogs and it not only helps keep them occupied, but also helps keep their teeth and gums healthy. Make sure you choose safe, durable chewing toys that are suitable for your dog.


Dog day care


Another option is to consider a dog day care. This is a place where your dog can play and socialise with other dogs all day under the supervision of experienced staff. It's like a day out for your dog and can be a great way to prevent boredom and loneliness, especially when you're away for long periods of time.

Exercise is important!


Don't forget the importance of sufficient physical exercise for your dog either. Daily walks and play sessions in the garden will help your dog get rid of his energy and keep him fit and healthy. This won't only reduce boredom, but also stress and anxiety.

In short, boredom in dogs when they're alone is something you should think about. By offering interactive toys, providing chewing toys and creating opportunities for exercise and social contact, you can make sure your furry friend is always happy and occupied, even when you're not around.

Boredom in cats


Now it's time to talk about our sleepy, playful cats! Cats are independent creatures by nature, but that doesn't mean they don't need stimulation and entertainment when they are alone. So let's see how to make sure your feline companion is never bored, even when you're not around.

Interactive toys


Interactive toys are a great way to entertain cats and stimulate their hunting instincts. Think of toys with feathers, mice or strings that you can swing around or move across the floor. Cats are natural hunters, and these interactive toys stimulate that hunting instinct. You'll be surprised at how active and enthusiastic they can get!

Scratching, climbing, and hiding


In addition to interactive toys, it is also important to provide cats with scratching trees. Cats love to scratch and it's a natural way for them to maintain their claws. Moreover, it helps to reduce stress and combat boredom. Make sure you have sturdy, stable scratching trees large enough for your cat to stretch out and scratch.

Furthermore, hiding places and climbing opportunities can make a world of difference to a cat. Cats are curious creatures that like to explore. Provide elevated areas in the house where they can climb and observe, such as cat towers or wall shelves. Also create hiding places where they can feel safe and secure, such as baskets with a soft cushion inside.

Mental stimulation


And have you heard of cat TV? Yes, you read correctly! By opening the curtains and giving your cat a nice view, they can observe the outside world and stimulate their curiosity. It's a great source of entertainment for your cat!

In addition, it's important to emphasize that cats need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Consider using feeding puzzles, where your cats have to work to get their food. This keeps their minds active and provides a fun challenge during their time alone.

So, by providing interactive toys, scratching trees, climbing opportunities, hiding places, cat TV and feeding puzzles, you will ensure that your feline companion always has something to do and is never bored, even when you're not around.

Boredom in small animals


Let's not forget about our fluffy small animal friends either! Whether you have a hamster, guinea pig, rabbit or rat, these little furry friends also need stimulation and activity, even when they're alone. Boredom can lead to lethargy and even health problems in small animals, so let's take a look at some ways you can make sure your small animal never gets bored.

An important aspect is providing enough space and a stimulating environment for your small animal. Make sure they have a spacious and safe area where they can move, explore, and play. Add tunnels, tubes, and hiding spots in which they can crawl and feel safe. Small animals love to explore their surroundings and discover new spots, so give them that opportunity!

Interactive toys


Small animals also love toys. Provide interactive toys such as climbing frames, ropes, balls and chewing toys. They enjoy climbing, gnawing, and playing with objects.

Gnaw away! 


It's also important to provide gnawing material. Small animals have a natural instinct to gnaw in order to keep their teeth healthy. Provide safe gnawing materials such as wooden blocks, willow branches, or unpainted cardboard tubes. This not only helps fulfil their gnawing needs, but also prevents them from gnawing on other objects in their enclosure.

Finally it's important to dedicate regular playtime and attention to your small animal when you're at home. Allow them to come out of their enclosure for safe exploration of the surroundings and play with them using toys and interactive games.

By providing a stimulating environment, interactive toys, feeding puzzles, gnawing materials and opportunities for social interaction, you can make sure that your small animal never gets bored, even when they're alone.

Practical tips for keeping pets occupied during absence

Now that we've discussed the specific needs of different pets, we'd like to offer you a few great tips to keep your pet happy even when you're not around.

  • Interactive toys: look for toys that engage your pet and stimulate their mind, such as feeding puzzles or toys that move on their own. It will definitely arouse their curiosity! 
  • Familiar scents: leave behind a worn piece of clothing with your scent on it. It will reassure your pet and make it feel like you're nearby.
  • Background noises: playing quiet music or background noise can help keep your pet company and mask any outside noises.
  • Help from others: When you're away, consider hiring a dog sitter, cat sitter, or pet sitter to take care of your pet. This way they're not alone and receive the necessary attention when you're not there.
  • Training Activities: teach your pet new tricks and skills through reward-based training. It's not only fun but also keeps its mind active and strengthens the bond with your pet.
  • Variety in the environment: change your pet's environment regularly. This can be as simple as moving toys around, rearranging hiding spots or offering new climbing opportunities. This keeps the environment interesting and fresh for your pet.

And of course, lots of sleep!


Also remember that puppies and adult dogs need sufficient sleep to cope with their busy and adventurous days. On average, puppies should sleep about 20 hours a day, while adult dogs need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep. During sleep, dogs process their adventures and experiences. Dogs that don't sleep enough can become restless and may be labelled as "troublesome". These dogs always seem to need attention or keep playing because they can't find rest to process the information they've gathered. When a dog has learned to find rest, he won't get bored when he's alone. During these moments of sleep and rest, a dog can sort out his daily impressions and experiences. So it may well be that your dog just lazes around all day when you're away. This doesn't mean that you cannot provide brain games or other toys for times when the dog is awake and alone. This will give you peace of mind!

Every pet is unique


Keep in mind that every pet is unique and has its own needs. Observe your pet and find out what makes them happy and keeps them busy. With a little creativity and dedication, you can ensure that your pet is never bored, even when you're not around.

It's important to take pet boredom seriously, especially when they're alone. Boredom can lead to behavioural issues, stress, and even health problems in our beloved pets. By providing interactive toys, mental stimulation, ample physical exercise, social interaction, and variety in the environment, we can ensure that our pets never get bored, even when we're not around. By paying attention to their needs and providing them with a stimulating and loving environment, we can improve their well-being and quality of life. Let's keep our pets happy and busy, because they deserve only the best!

This blog was written in collaboration with Patricia Ceuppens, Certified Dog parenting and behavior coach at Smiling Dogs.

In a nutshell

Boredom in dogs when they're alone is something you should think about. By offering interactive toys, providing chewing toys and creating opportunities for exercise and social contact, you can make sure your furry friend is always happy and occupied, even when you're not around.
Keep in mind that every pet is unique and has its own needs. Observe your pet and find out what makes them happy and keeps them busy. With a little creativity and dedication, you can ensure that your pet is never bored, even when you're not around.
It's important to take pet boredom seriously, especially when they're alone. Boredom can lead to behavioural issues, stress, and even health problems in our beloved pets.