If your pet has a secret life once the front door closes on his human family members—as the new movie, “The Secret Life of Pets,” would have us believe—then you don’t need to worry about your dog or cat’s boredom or stress levels. But if you suspect they actually lead a very quiet life, here are some things you can do to help them enjoy the time on their own.
A Place to Snuggle
Chances are that your pet already his own place in the house where he likes to lie and snooze or look out of the window at people, cars and birds. Make sure this space includes a warm blanket or pet bed so he can relax while waiting for his family to arrive home. If you have a small dog, put a chair near the window so he can jump up and look out. This will work for a cat too, or you can use a cat tree that they can also use for climbing and scratching their claws.
It’s not just humans who love watching television – our furry buddies do too. Keep the TV turned on to a channel that airs animal documentaries, or buy a DVD for pets that offers visual and aural stimulation. Another option is to tune the radio to a station that plays soothing background music.
Giving your pet toys to play with will help prevent him from becoming bored and exhibiting destructive behaviors. We especially like food puzzle toys that provide mental stimulation, such as the Tug-a-Jug for dogs, which encourages pooches to play with it by dispensing kibble or treats randomly when they pull on its rope. You can also hide chews around the house for your dog to find. For cats, try the KONG cat wobbler, which encourages cats to hunt and capture the treats inside. Talking of treats, if you’d like to make your own dog treat jar, check out this DIY craft idea from one of our favorite bloggers, Mrs. Kathy King.
Food and Water
For most pets it’s a good idea to just feed them at regular meal times, with the treat dispensers providing them with snacks during the day. But they need to have access to fresh, clean water at all times and we’re fans of a self-filling water bowl. It makes sure your pooch doesn’t run out of water, even on hot days. Tip: if your pet tends to spill water from the bowl, put a dog pad underneath to soak up the liquid.
Of course after your dog drinks water and eats treats, it may not be able to wait until you come home to go potty outside! The solution we recommend? Extra strong dog pads especially designed for pet parents who are out all day and need extra protection for their floors and other indoor surfaces. For cats it’s a different story: they just need a cat litter box located in a quiet, easy-to-access location that offers them some privacy.
Before You Leave…
One final tip to help prepare your dog for the day ahead: Take him for a walk and give him some exercise before you leave home. He’ll come in from his walk and plop down on his bed and be much more relaxed and comfortable. And of course don’t forget to give your cat or dog a cuddle and kiss before you head off and reassure them that you’ll be home later. Here’s another craft idea from Mrs. Kathy King inspired by “The Secret Life of Pets” movie. So there you have it. What other tips do you have for comforting a stay-at-home pet? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page.