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How to Entertain Your Pets When You are Not Home

Updated on September 12, 2014

Is Your Pet Bored?

Often we wonder what our pets do while we are gone. Some of us have even set up a video camera and recorded our pets involved in creative hijinks or simple boredom. We can often prevent problems, while at the same time, increase the quality of life for our pets by giving them something to occupy their minds.

This page is all about how we can enrich their lives while we are away.

Image courtesy of Luca Venturelli

Animals and Me

Over the years I have had 2 ferrets, a corn snake, a bearded dragon, birds, rabbits, dogs, a squirrel, fish, a turtle, and many others. Some were just being rehabbed and released eventually, while others were my loyal companions.

One thing I have learned is that all intelligent creatures need something to engage and entertain them. Our local zoo calls it "enrichment" and will often do such things as put a gallon bucket of frozen meat and water in the area for the tigers to slowly chew through or they will have a small pond with a "natural looking" rock slide for the weasels.

Right now I just have a wonderful dog, whom I found at an animal shelter. He spends much of his day alone waiting for me to come home from work, so he can go for a run or walk. Before I leave in the morning, I usually make sure he has something to entertain him, which often includes making sure that I leave the blinds open so he can watch the squirrels, birds and people go about their day outside. In addition, I sometimes give him a Kong filled with various sized, low calorie, nutritious treats (often broken up into odd shapes) so that it is difficult to get them out. Also, I make sure that he has easy access to his toys, has freedom to wonder the house (he's trustworthy not to damage anything), and sometimes I hide a treat amongst his toys. I will also sometimes leave the radio on in order to keep him company.

What Pets do While You are Away

Reasons for Engaging Your Pet

In the wild, animals spend much of their time awake looking for food and shelter. This is their "work." For our beloved cat or dog, however, supper comes in a dish from us. In addition, their shelter is also supplied by us. This means their work is eliminated.

For the physical and mental well-being of your furry little friend, it is important to replace this work with other activities. Just as we provide our fish with things to hide under or a hamster a wheel to spin, we should find creative outlets for our larger, and often more intelligent critters.

Studies have shown that when animals are given an interesting living environment tend to be friendlier, eat less, and live longer.

When you are home, take your dog out for walks, play fetch, get her involved in flyball or obstacle coursework, and teach her new tricks and skills. Spend time interacting with your cat, if he is willing, and pet, play, and snuggle. You could also build or buy a cat tree, which provide cats with premium personal real estate. An added advantage of a cat tree is that it provides a scratching post. Large trees even offer a place to hide, a place to eat, a place to sleep and a place to watch the world around them.

Teach your pet how to do something. I would argue that there is an element of satisfaction, and perhaps pride, in your dog or cat when they learn something new.

Get a Friend

First, one of the most obvious ways to keep your dog company all day is to get another dog. You know how the saying goes, the more the merrier, right? Of course, this isn't an option for everybody, but it is a viable way to keep your dog(s) engaged. Especially for a pack animal, such as a dog.

Cats are another story, as some may not appreciate the competition. However, if you have two of the same gender, it is usually more likely that they would get along, and may actually enjoy the company.

A Patent on a "Pet Entertainment Device"

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you could always invent something for your pet.

This invention, United States Patent 7066780, allows the pet to wear a harness that directs light in front of the dog or cat, thereby entertaining them.

Personally, I think it would drive the poor dog or cat nuts!

Here's more on the patent:

I claim:

1. A pet entertainment device for wearing by a pet, said pet having a head end and tail end, a said device comprising: a garment configured for wearing by said pet, wherein said garment comprises a collar configured to be worn around said pet's neck; a laser source for producing a laser beam, said laser source attaching to said garment, said laser source configured to project said laser beam on a surface beyond said pet's head end, and a laser director for directing the projection of said laser beam.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein said laser director controls both the horizontal movement and the vertical movement of said laser beam.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein said horizontal movement is controlled through use of a first servo, and whereas said vertical movement is controlled through use of a second servo.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein said first servo is connected to said laser source, wherefore rotation of said first servo causes a horizontal movement in the projection of said laser beam.

5. The device of claim 3, wherein said second servo is connected to said laser source, wherein rotation of said second servo causes a vertical movement in the projection of said laser beam.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein said device further comprises an extension pole from said garment upon which said laser source is attached, said extension pole for positioning said laser source over said pet's head end so said laser beam can be directed onto a surface in front of said pet.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein said horizontal movement is controlled through use of a first servo which rotates said extension pole.

8. The device of claim 7, further comprising a spring which attaches between said extension pole and said laser source.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein said vertical movement is controlled through use of a second servo that connects via a cable to said spring.

10. The device of claim 1, wherein the operation of said laser director is controlled through use of a remote control.

11. A pet entertainment device for wearing by a pet, said pet having a head end and tail end, a said device comprising: a garment configured for wearing by said pet; a laser source for producing a laser beam, said laser source attaching to said garment, said laser source configured to project said laser beam on a surface beyond said pet's head end; and a laser director for directing the projection of said laser beam, wherein said laser director is configured to move the projection of the laser beam in a pattern relative to said pet.

Cat Mischief

Cat Mischief
Cat Mischief

DVDs and Videos for the Pet

One possible option is to leave the television or radio on while you are away. Some pets do respond to such stations as Animal Planet, or to certain music.

Another option is to buy a DVD that is specifically designed to entertain your cat or dog. The best thing to do is see how they respond to something freely available on TV. If they like it, then consider spending the money on a DVD.

Below is a complete selection of just such DVDs on Amazon.

Cat Sitter DVD

Cat Sitter DVD - Volume 2 - The DVD Your Cats Love to Watch

Cat Sitter Vol. III

A Dog up to No Good

A Dog up to No Good
A Dog up to No Good

DVD For Dogs : While You Are Gone

Audio for the Dog or Cat

Another option is an audio CD or radio designed for pets. You may find that sounds of birds and other animals works well to potentially keep your pet engaged throughout the day.

Music Cats Love: While You Are Gone

More Cat Mischief

More Cat Mischief
More Cat Mischief

Puzzles and Toys

You could give your dog or cat a puzzle type toys that challenges them to figure out how to get a treat out of the toy itself. These are great because they work your dog's brain and keep them going until they figure out how to get the treat out.

The Beloved Kong

This is my favorite toy to entertain my dog. I buy small, healthy treats and put them inside. Then I break a bone in half and shove it inside. The broken bone is really tough to get out, so it takes perhaps an hour or two (or more) before he gets it out. Once the broken bone is out it's fairly easy to get the other treats out.

It's a great toy for your dog!

The Kong

KONG CLASSIC LARGE Rubber Chew Toy For Dogs - World's Best Dog Toy (T1)
KONG CLASSIC LARGE Rubber Chew Toy For Dogs - World's Best Dog Toy (T1)

* Our super-bouncy, red, US made, natural rubber compound is perfect for typical chewers.

* The original, stuffable treat dispensing toy.

* Five sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large and King.

* Veterinarians and trainers recommend stuffing KONG toys with KONG treats and ZIGGIES to keep dogs busy and deter misbehaviors.

 

Cat Puzzle

SmartCat Peek and Play Toy Box
SmartCat Peek and Play Toy Box

* Capture toys by fishing them out

* Works with all size appropriate toys

* Durable wood toy box

* Last for years

* Looks good in your home

 

Kitty Teaser

SmartCat 3836 Tick Tock Teaser
SmartCat 3836 Tick Tock Teaser

* Two moving targets

* Attach different velcro toys

* Sturdy wood construction

 

Kitty's Garden - Organic Grass Seed

SmartCat 3844 Kitty’s Garden Edible Grass Planter
SmartCat 3844 Kitty’s Garden Edible Grass Planter

* 100% Organic Seed

* Oats, Wheat, Rye and Barley

* Grows in 4 - 6 days.

 

Cat Tracks

Good Pet Stuff Cat Tracks
Good Pet Stuff Cat Tracks

* Easy to assemble - all pieces compatible with snaps

* Durable construction - materials can withstand rough play

* Expandable and changeable; Use the modular add-on tracks and curves to create a variety of shapes

* Great entertainment while owner is away from home

* Encourages exercise

 

Talk-to-Me

Talk To Me Treat Ball - Large
Talk To Me Treat Ball - Large

* Records personal message for their dog.

* The message is motion activated and will play over and over as the dog rolls the ball.

* Treats will also dispense randomly as the dog plays with the ball.

* Color: Varies

* Size: 6 inches -- for dogs over 25 lbs

 

Da Bird

The Da Bird Super Pack (Includes 1 Da Bird Original 36" Single Pole Cat Toy, Feather Refill, Sparkly Attachment, Kitty Puff Attachment & Peacock Feather)
The Da Bird Super Pack (Includes 1 Da Bird Original 36" Single Pole Cat Toy, Feather Refill, Sparkly Attachment, Kitty Puff Attachment & Peacock Feather)

* Original ONE piece wand, stong and well made

* Realistic feather toy activates your cat's hunting instinct

* 3 Attachment Refills (Feather, Sparkly, Kitty Puff)

* Cats go wild over Peacock Feathers

* Even lazy and fat cats cannot resist all this!

 

Outside the Window

As I mentioned above, one thing that I like to do is to give my dog a way to watch the animals outside. You may find that putting a bird feeder or two near a window can provide countless hours of entertainment.

Courtesy of dwittkower

If a bird feeder is not an option, then you could have a fish tank. Just make sure it is out of reach and safe from your other pets.

Another option that I think could be really fun for you and your pet would be to build an "in-house bird window feeder". Although not designed specifically with your pet in mind, they could be a good possibility.

As they say, it "promotes healthy bird feeding with an easier than ever way to clean and fills. Simply lift out the center panel for cleaning and adding fresh seed. One way mirrored panels allow up close easy viewing of the birds, but they can't see you. The classic styling reminiscent of sunny Bay Windows will enhance any room. Quality cedar and maple construction. May be assembled with our without window mullions for two different looks. Easy to install. Large feeding area hold several pounds of seed and has enough room for several birds to feed at the same time".

It also appears that it is not permanent, so may be removed during the cold winter months, if heat-loss is a concern.

For more information, check out BirdCentral.com




Bird Watching for Cats: An Entertainment Guide for Indoor Felines

Bird Watching for Cats: An Entertainment Guide for Indoor Felines
Bird Watching for Cats: An Entertainment Guide for Indoor Felines

Let's face it: indoor cats may get bored when their owners are away or otherwise occupied. No more. This user-friendly, step-by-step guide takes owners through the process of establishing successful bird-watching windows for the endless enjoyment of their cats - and without harming (in fact, benefitting) the birds on the other side. The vividly illustrated chapters describe how to set up appropriate window feeders, birdbaths and even birdhouses for your home or apartment. Suggestions for planting natural cover outside windows, one-way viewing, bird videos, outside speakers, and special toys - all for the pleasure of cats - are also included. This remarkable book by renowned bird experts (and lifelong cat owners) George and Kit Harrison is sure to be a valuable resource - for both you and your cat.

 

Find a Pet Sitter

You may also want to check into a service to entertain your pet while you are away.

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    • YourCover Mama profile image

      YourCover Mama 8 years ago

      awwwwwwww, great lens. I am a huge pet lover. I have a cat, but love to bring in a dog too, but I wouldn't be able to because it would be lonely :O( great ideas 5*

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I wish everyone cared about their pets like you do Tri. We have a beautiful long haired GSD and she is great company for me as I usually work from home. She is often curled up at my feet, when I am Squidooing. I love the photo of the dog who is up to no good - reminds me of my last dog, who was a black lab/german shepherd cross breed.

      Great lens - should be compulsory reading for anyone getting a pet. 5 kongs for you!

    • Happiegrrrl profile image

      Terrie Marcoe 8 years ago from Gardiner, New York and Joshua Tree, California

      It's so true, that animals need that emotional stimulation! I run a small companion animal care service and have seen behaviors exhibited when an animal is unhappy. It comes out in the ripping up of items, nonstop barking(pleeeez don't leave mee....) and "Post-It Poops"(leaving a dump on a personal item of yours or in a "can't miss seeing, or stepping in, it" spot).

      The Kong toys, with treat inside, are great for some dogs. A big bone, for others. Favorite squeaky toys too. Some animals need more interaction that others. For some dogs(herding/hunting/sled breeds), it's really important to get that exercise out of doors. There's really no substitute.

      But nothing takes the place of human interaction, of course. A dog walker may cost more than a Kong toy, but may be what is best. One client said "She's so excited when you come. Why isn't she like that for me?" My response - "Well, it's like she's having an affair. I'm the one on the side....

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 8 years ago

      This is the neatest idea for a lens. I am happy to see that other pet lovers worry about their animals when they're not home. Every time I leave, I think about my dog's sad eyes. 5*****

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Very intertaining! At least for us humans! Nice job.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens, many of times my cat has got tangled up in the blinds like the one in the picture. 5 stars

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

      Lizzy

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 8 years ago

      What a fantastic lens, with real food for thought. I have had some really mischievous animals Great ideas and I loved the videos. Thanks for joining our group Pets, Friends more than pets.

    • mistyblue75605 lm profile image

      mistyblue75605 lm 8 years ago

      Good lens! People need to understand that they are missed when they are not at home. The pet is just letting you know they miss you! 5*

    • GlennaJones profile image

      Glenna Jones 8 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Great lens. This really is a problem for some people because bored pets often get into trouble or become noisy. You can nip a lot of it in the bud by keeping your pets entertained.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      You've got some great ideas for entertaining your pets while away. I usually have them stay with family members, we are lucky enough to have family close by! Great lens! Linda

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 8 years ago

      Great lens! Fun to read and so true! Good ideas and products too. 5 stars!

    • AnnRadley profile image

      AnnRadley 8 years ago

      Enjoyed this lens. I recently acquired a whippet Romeo to help keep my poodle company. But I found that Romeo likes to get into the garbage and drag it around the house when I'm not home!

      Thanks for your ideas

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Great lens and I loved watching the videos. I had no idea so much was available to entertain pets when the owner is away. Great info and tips.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Merry Christmas from the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

      Lizzy

    • julcal profile image

      julcal 8 years ago

      This is a GREAT lens! What great ideas for keeping our pets happy. I've always wondered about that cat grass, they really like it, huh? that's going to be my first buy :)

      *****

      ~ Julie

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      great lens..5* from me..

      keep up the good work..

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      lensrolled it to me Dog Training Works lens. 5* for some good ideas!

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 8 years ago

      Fun lens (you should know, though, that your videos are both gone) The photo of the dog with all of the stuffing (?) everywhere totally cracked me up - did he look guilty or what?? Yikes! :o) 5* and thanks for the smile...

      Http://www.Squidoo.com/ConnieCrankpot

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'm lucky to have more days off of work than on. But on the days I do work , the hours are long. Since my bird passed, I bring the dog to work when the weather is mild- not into work. The car is either parked in the lot near the door to the building, where I can see him. Or in the 1st shaded space in a parking ramp. In the parking ramp, classical music plays, he is very relaxed and he is hardly excited to see me at lunch! In either location, he is entertained by watching people come and go. Some people walk up to the car to say hello to him and get their hand sniffed or licked, or point at him with their kids. I can usually see all this from my window at work. One time I saw the security guard look at someone like they were crazy because she thought he was talking to himself, when he was talking to my dog. It makes everyone happy. :)

      Thanks for the toy info- did not know there was a ball that was able to record my voice!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 7 years ago from Lancaster PA

      I love this lens! Like Kerry, I used to take my dogs to work. Then I started working nights, so now there is always someone home with them!!

      ####Blessed####

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 7 years ago

      Wonderful lens! I really enjoyed what you have put together here. A couple of the cat toys look interesting and I would like to get them for my cat. 5*

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Informative and very fun lens! I've seen small cameras that can attach to your pet's collar to discover what they get up to (but they still look a little big and heavy to me... not sure whether they are altogether safe).

      Those happy pets are adorable.

    • strayspay profile image

      strayspay 7 years ago

      I really, really like this lens! I appreciate anyone who recognizes that dogs (and cats) have needs beyond food and companionship!

    • Kelsey-Budden-16 profile image

      Kelsey-Budden-16 7 years ago

      Awesome lens! I thought I'd check yours out since you checked mine! :-)

    • admiralglass lm profile image

      admiralglass lm 7 years ago

      You just have to :) when go through this lens. Great stuff 5*

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      This is a great lens! Entertaining and educational. I knew cats loved the laser game, but I didn't know dogs would play "chase the laser" too. Kong sounds like a great idea! Thanks!

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      I love this! I often worry about leaving our cat home alone indoors though he doesn't seem to mind as long as we don't go home too late. (If we do, he makes sure to give us a scolding). Will follow your suggestions and check out the book and toys you recommended, thanks! (:

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      Angel blessings and Happy New Year!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Well, I must admit that Boots the cat seems to find things to entertain herself with -- particularly the new temperature gauge that she chewed through -- so now hubby hung it up high so that she'd need to scale the wall to get to it. Happy New Year my dear and may you have a most remarkable journey this year!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is really cool TT; many things I didn't know about to entertain pets! I'd like to view the videos myself, so I could see what they consist of that's so interesting to dogs LOL. Thank you for visiting 2 of my dog lenses, and I think I have answers for you. I've read one of the reasons dogs eat grass is because their stomach is upset, and they know that eating grass will make them puke. The other is that eating grass may be a sign of them needing more/different nutrition in their food. Hope that helps!

    • BethRudkin1 profile image

      BethRudkin1 7 years ago

      Great idea for a lens, good job. I'd love to see one of those DVDs! But that "Pet Entertainment Device" invention looks dangerous. If the pet looked into a mirror, couldn't the laser damage its eyes? That was my first thought, anyway.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      Great lens. I love animals, and have been a cat owner for many years. Loved the photos too! Pets really enrich our lives.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      This is the CUTEST lens! Beyond that you also have some excellent ideas.. YAY

    • profile image

      aliwatson 6 years ago

      Lovely pics and some great ideas

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This just makes so much sense! Love it and lensrolling to my I Want a Dog lens.

    • profile image

      DeVita 5 years ago

      Really amazing this lens.

      Dog Kennels

    • profile image

      Gretchenjoy 5 years ago

      Amazing this information i like it very much.

      Chicken Coops, Rabbit Hutches

    • profile image

      henryheli 5 years ago

      Superb lens.

      Trampolines | Bean bags | Bar stools

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