How Can You Enrich Your Pet's Environment?
Physical activity is important for the health and well-being of your pets but a long walk or exercise only is not enough for their happiness. They used to survive and thrive in the wild before we welcome them in our homes. They are now spending more time indoors than they used to. That being said, the home environment should be able to cater to their species-specific behavior and replicate their areas of life in the wild. Providing such an environment by making changes to your house is called environmental enrichment. In addition, you can tweak everything you provide your pets for enrichment purposes.
However, you don’t always have to make compromises for your pets in order to enrich your pets’ surroundings. There are midways possible; that way, you will be able to maintain and even enhance the aesthetics of your home while providing enrichment to your pets at the same time. Keep reading to know what all you can do.
Enrichment Ideas for Dogs
These strange COVID-19 times have made people and their pets to stay home more than ever. Enrichment becomes even more crucial during the pandemic. So make sure your Fido is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. Here are some ideas you can implement for enrichment.
Dogs and cats both have far better smelling ability than us. K9 Nosework is a canine scent detection activity. Your dog will follow his favorite food’s smell and find out the source. During this pandemic, you might’ve more than ever useless cardboard boxes from online shopping and you can use them for this activity.
You can also play Hide and Seek with your dog, alternatively. Command your dog to stay and then hide. Call your dog by name and let him find you. Don’t forget to give him treats when your pooch succeeds.
Food puzzle toys work for both dogs and cats. These toys generally require your pet to find a way to get food out of it. That way your pet will get enough mental stimulation and will enhance their problem-solving ability. You can be more creative with all their toys and try different ways to provide them mental stimulation.
You may not be able to get your pooch to a lake, pond, or swimming pool every day. But, you can have your dog’s very own best swimming pool or a kiddie pool in your backyard. In addition to water, you can use sand and fill up the pool. Hide your dog’s favorite toys and let him dig them out.
High energy dogs require more physical activity. And while being home, it’s nearly impossible for dogs to spend as much energy as they would do while playing fetch or running a couple of miles outdoors. Pent up energy can promote destructive behavior and other behavioral issues. If you have a backyard you can build an agility setup for your pooch.
Environmental Enrichment for Cats
Cats are different than dogs in many terms and as far as environmental enrichment is concerned, it is quite crucial if you have cats. Cats strictly need to be indoors because of their destructive environmental impact, and for their own safety and health concerns. So here are the basic necessities of your cats you need to fulfill.
Scratch posts and Other Sign Posts
Felines are highly territorial. Considering that fact, they mark and identify their territories from their litter boxes, scents, and scratched surfaces. Cats scratch because they want to leave their scents on the surfaces most used by their humans. So when they scratch, they are complementing your smell with theirs and this is quite important for their species-specific behavior.
Letting your cat scratch your sofa and other expensive furniture items is foolish because you can provide them a better option for scratching; scratch posts. Place scratch posts beside the sofa and other surfaces that your cats generally scratch and use sticky paws or cat deterrent sprays to stop scratching where you don’t want them to. Your cat will stop scratching at the sofa and start using scratch posts eventually.
My favorite scratching posts are those that are sturdy and don’t wobble when a cat’s using it. If it wobbles, the post loses its purpose because a moving pole will freak out your kitty. The similar concept is with litter boxes. They are the most vital signposts for territories. There should be enough litter boxes and be placed in socially important places in the house.
Cat TV & Vertical Setups
How can cats stay mentally active and participating in the outside world when they are confined to a house? Entertainment, play, and passive indulgence in the outside world is the way. You know how cats sit by the window and watch outside for long as the day passes by?
Actually, they observe squirrels, small rodents, birds, insects, or sometimes just feel the cool breeze. They are still animals and they have hunt drive and wish to be an active part of the ecosystem. Nevertheless, watching outside for hours is surely fun for them so provide a perch or a bed by windows so that they can sit there, relax, and even take a nap. Make the frame more engaging by installing bird feeder, birdbath, flower plants that attract bees, and a lamp post that can attract insects in the night time.
Cats always see their territories in 3 dimensional way. In other words, they want to use the vertical space in our house which humans do not use. Place cat trees, cat hammocks, scratch posts, cat condos, shelves, window perches, etc. This way they will able to use up that space and can feel confident by playing around with your other pets. You can do this by keeping aesthetics in your mind.
I’ve included the most important enrichment required for dogs and cats. You can also use activity tracking devices for keeping an eye on their physical as well as mental health while pets need to stay indoors more than ever in these difficult times. Keep your pets happy by making small changes and putting more efforts to enrich their surroundings. In the end, these all will mean everything for you and your beloved pet.