It's safe to say that most of us are bored these days. It seems forever ago that we could grab dinner or a drink with our friends; go to concerts or to the theater; or enjoy one of the many markets, festivals, or other events.
But have you considered that your pet may be bored as well? Maybe they used to accompany you to a market or brewery, or they were used to hanging out with their own pet pals when you went to the park. Sure, they’re happy you’re home more, but that can lead to even more frustration for you if you’re working from home with a bored dog.
In this blog, we will tackle two issues you may be facing: a bored pet and how to successfully work from home with a pet, whether it be a cat or dog. We hope this will help you to not only hang on to your sanity but also to increase your bond with your pet.
You Can't Hide From Your Pet
Trying to treat your house like it’s an office and ignoring your pet while you're home isn’t really an option. Sure, if you have a dedicated room that you can shut the door to, that can help you get work done in peace. But you will likely find your pet camped out on the other side of the door or, worse, up to no good.
Your pet knows you’re home, and that can increase their anxiety and change the whole dynamic of their usual day. They just can’t understand why you aren’t spending time with them.
How Can I Keep My Pet Busy?
Without an opportunity to release their energy, a dog can get stir-crazy and engage in counter surfing, barking at any leaf that moves in the yard, digging out from under the fence; the list goes on. A frustrated, cooped-up dog has to find some way to release all of its pent-up, unused energy, and, unfortunately, it's often in a negative way.
Even cats can find all kinds of things to get into, as they invent their own ways to pass the time...fun for them, maybe, but not for you. Starting the day off on the right foot, or paw can make all the difference. By getting some of their energy out at the beginning of the day, you can set the day up for success.
Try a walk around the block with your dog, which can benefit both of you; and you may find your day is more productive, too. Whenever you need a break from the computer or phone, take advantage of the time to use up some of your pet’s energy by playing fetch or tug of war, or give them some physical attention like a back scratch or belly rub.
More Ways to Relieve Pet Boredom
Dogs that are bored tend to get into trouble by looking for ways to entertain themselves—usually by excessive chewing, barking, digging, and other destructive behaviors. Proper stimulation occupies both their bodies and their minds.
Dogs are social pack animals and would rather spend time with us than do much of anything else. Play is good for your dog mentally, emotionally, and physically. Play a game of “treat hide and seek", starting with “guess which hand.” When they get good at this, try hiding treats around the house. Tug of war and fetch are great ways to spend quality time with your dog and to release their pent-up energy.
Change up your walking routine and let your dog stop and smell the roses—or fire hydrants. If you’re taking the same route every day, your dog gets used to the same mundane sights and smells. Try exploring new neighborhoods or parks. Allowing your dog ample time to smell their surroundings gives them great mental stimulation.
While your dog may have tons of fun squeaky toys and chew things, interactive and puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog’s mind occupied and stimulated. Look for toys that will make your dog work to remove a treat or ones that will launch a ball for unending games of fetch. Just like kids, dogs get bored with the same old toys. Give your dog access to only a few at a time and swap them out regularly so that everything will be new again! plenty of toys, they can become tired of the same ones day in and day out.
Cats are natural hunters, so the life of leisure we think they want often leads to boredom. Consider how cats live in the wild and try to recreate some of their instinctual behaviors to help ward off destructive habits, like shredding that precious roll of toilet paper and climbing the curtains!
Perches, climbing surfaces, and scratching posts. Most cats like to position themselves in high places to watch all that goes on around them. Consider installing a window perch or catio so they can observe the great outdoors. A cat tree can provide height, a cubby for them to hide in, and a scratching post—all in one.
Toys that encourage play—like wand toys with a mouse or feathers at the end, and puzzle toys that require solving to receive a food reward—are great ways to engage the mind and use energy to ward off bad behavior. Investing time playing with your kitty pays big dividends when they’re happily snoozing throughout the rest of your workday.
Toys containing catnip can make even the most uninterested kitty excited to play again. Or if your cat likes chewing on your (cat-safe) plants, offer them a catnip plant that they can nibble on, and let your other plants breathe a sigh of relief.
Recreate the hunt
A great activity to get your cat exercising is to make them chase their kibble, instead of simply offering it in a bowl. Tossing it one piece at a time makes them run and chase after it and leads to a full-bellied yet worn out kitty.
Other Tips For Working at Home With Pets
Along with keeping your pet’s mind and body stimulated and, thus, tired out later, here are some other ways to make working at home with your pet a success:
If your pet isn’t too much of a distraction, try putting their bed near you to help them feel close to you and more content. Treats are another way we like to keep our pets content or busy and quiet if we’re on a phone call or Zoom meeting. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for them. Treats should only make up a small portion of your pet’s diet.
An alternative to their regular treats that will still make them happy is healthy fruits and veggies! Carrots, apples, bananas, green beans, and blueberries are great choices! Steer clear of grapes, raisins, avocados, and onions. Another great idea is dental chews that keep your pet busy.
COVID-19 may very well change the way we work in the future, but whether you’re working from home temporarily or on a more long-term basis, we hope that these suggestions will help you and your pet work and play together and create an even stronger bond with each other.
A Coronavirus Health Update
Some people still have concerns as to whether the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through pets, especially after recent news that house cats, a tiger, and now a pug have contracted the virus. We hope the following will help answer some lingering questions.
Can My Pet Spread COVID-19?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is no current evidence that pets can be a source of infection, or spread COVID-19 to people. But this is a fluid situation and, as we learn more, we will update you.
Is It Safe to Bring My Pet to the Vet For Curbside Service?
As veterinarians, our top priority has always been the well-being of pets, so please know we are also committed to the health and safety of our clients and employees. To this commitment, we have in place and are following protocols for infectious diseases. We are diligently cleaning and disinfecting our hospitals and are confident we can safely treat your pets.
At this time, most vets are not seeing pets for routine visits such as wellness exams or for vaccines, but if your pet is ill, please do not hesitate to make an appointment. Telemedicine is also available at some veterinarian offices for certain concerns.
In the meantime, the best information on this outbreak can be found on the CDC website. Call your primary care veterinarian if you have any questions.