Mental stimulation is as important as physical stimulation when it comes to the overall wellness of your pet. When you create an enriching environment for your pet, not only do you boost mental activity, but you can reduce the occurrence of behavioural issues.
These destructive and disruptive acts can be a result of boredom, seeking out attention, or even anxiety. With young animals, this is especially common as they attempt to figure out their environment. Keeping your pets engaged is hugely beneficial and there are many ways to make it happen!
Shake it up
Encountering the same old, same old is boring for anyone - even your pet! For dogs, alternate your walking routes so they encounter different smells and surroundings. At home, rotate toys routinely to keep them ‘new’ and exciting in the eyes of your pet. Indestructible toys are key to long-lasting fun, such as frisbees, tug-o-war ropes, and cat wands as they invite engaging play.
Offer new challenges
Interactive toys are great for promoting mental stimulation, such as puzzle balls and treat dispensing games where the objective is to work out how to retrieve the reward. Additionally, there are a range of electronic motion cat toys that mimic prey movement to keep cats on their toes.
However, challenging your pet doesn’t need to be costly - a bit of creativity goes a long way. Cats can find enjoyment with a cardboard box with holes cut in it and a ping pong ball inside, while dogs can have hours of fun unearthing treasures from a DIY dog ice-block with treats and toys frozen inside.
Enhance their mental skills be initiating further training, whether it be agility or additional obedience. And that doesn’t just go for dogs! Cats are intelligent creatures and have been known to pick up the odd trick when adequately enticed. Take a look online for cat training videos and give it a go!
Make them work for it
Whether it’s treats or their meal, making your pet have to actively seek out their food is a creative way to promote both mental and physical stimulation. Foraging is a natural behaviour that you can encourage by hiding treats in unexpected places, allowing your pet the chance to sniff out and hunt down their food.
Let the world come to them
Getting out in the world is often our pets favourite past time, but when that’s not an option, satiate their curiosity and let them watch instead. Cats especially enjoy the act of surveying their territory, often from somewhere higher up where they feel hidden so investing in a cat tower that can be placed near a busy window is ideal.
Many cat towers double as scratching posts which is another way to bring enrichment into your cat’s day as it allows them to display natural behaviours without damaging the furniture!
With dogs, socialisation is one of the best ways to offer enrichment while increasing physical activity. Arrange play dates with other dog owners, attend local dog parks, or if it’s within the budget, organising even one day a week at a doggie daycare can do wonders for your dog.
There are countless opportunities to keep your pet entertained when you are home or away that provide huge benefits to their well-being. Just remember that some toys are best only for supervised play and should be reserved for when you’re together. So have fun and be creative in your solutions, and your pet will be all the happier for it!