Animals that are bored will get into trouble. A bored dog will bark, chew destructively, dig or try to escape from the yard. A bored cat will destroy your furniture or excessively vocalise. Both may develop self-destructive habits too, including excessive grooming or intercat/dog aggression.
Boredom can be lessened by keeping your pet’s brain busy with training, playtime and mentally challenging games, as well as making sure your dog gets enough daily exercise so that his body is tired when you leave the house and that your cat has access to the outside world.
Environmental enrichment is the process of making the animal’s living space interesting and stimulating so as to decrease boredom and its subsequent problems. Making things more interesting for your pet isn’t hard but you do need to be creative and vary what you do. If you do the same thing every day that too can quickly become boring. Food dispensing toys are great for relieving boredom and stress. At the same time, they make your pet’s environment more interesting. A few treats – or an entire meal – in the toy will keep your dog busy while you’re gone and, since this is the time when most dogs get into trouble, can be a big help. A scratch post, a “cat tree” or light party strings that easily move in the wind, will keep your cat entertained and away from destroying furniture.