When you have to leave a pet home alone, whether it’s because you work long job hours or simply need some time off with friends, do you know what your pets are up to while you’re gone? Are they safe, as well as happy and active?
It’s a troubling thought for a lot of pet owners, particularly those who see their furry friends as an extension of the family. The thought of them being lonely all day with no one to play with, no one to cuddle with, it’s just about enough to break your heart. So, what can you do to make sure they’re excited to see you when you get home, for reasons more than they were feeling blue all day without you?
To avoid boredom, loneliness, and anxiety in pets when they’re left home alone, there are several options you can consider — from lifestyles changes to incorporating some new technology.
1. Working From Home
Let’s go ahead and discuss the elephant in the room, since we’re on the topic of separation anxiety. What’s the most obvious cure? Working from home of course, if you can swing it.
Not only will you constantly be around your pet and therefore settling their nerves, you’ll be more accessible if they have other needs, like their food is running low or the litter box is running full. Also, if Fido decides to go digging through the trash like a run-of-the-mill raccoon, you’ll be more likely to catch him in the act.
Obviously, working from home isn’t for everyone and requires not only the right job, but also some particular organizational skills, but in a lot of cases, the simplest solution is the most obvious one. Not only that, but if you’ve been looking for a good excuse to quit and pursue a different career, this could definitely be a viable reason — assuming you’re convincing enough to your friends and family.
If you need a little more leverage in your persuasion, feel free to tell them about the desk designed specifically for the work-at-home cat lover, who has spent a little too much time in the past distracted by their feline friend attempting to crawl into their lap to be close. And don’t worry, dog lovers, there’s plenty of other custom furniture designed just for you too.
2. Remote Playtime
One of the leading causes in pet boredom stems from having little to no stimulation while home alone, including toys and other pets to play with. If you can’t adopt another pet for whatever reason, introducing new toys is your next best bet. Toys for both dogs and cats can consist of more than just stuffed animals and scratching posts, and new technology-based toys are being invented seemingly on a daily basis.
Cats, being natural-born hunters, are going to enjoy enclosed tunnels and hanging toys much more than a stuffed mouse being thrown onto the carpet. And, just the same, dogs are more likely to interact with toys that fight back over those that lie catatonic. For example, Hongkiat lists a number of high-tech pet gadgets that allow for remote play, whether you’re shacked up in your fancy home-office after quitting your normal job, or even if you’re still stuck at your desk across town.
PetCube Play lets you watch, talk to, and play with your pet from anywhere in the world right in real time (right from your smartphone). You can play a game of laser tag or schedule autoplay while you’re away. You can also have a chat with your pet via two-way audio and with real-time video you can see everything right as it happens.
PlayDate is a new toy currently causing a stir in the pet world, designed specifically for pet owners who spend long periods of time away from home and not only want to check up on their pets via camera, but also make sure they’re getting the attention and activity they need.
As a plastic ball that is controlled by your smartphone, the PlayDate includes a built-in camera and microphone that utilizes gyroscopic technology to make sure you can watch your pet as they chase you around the house! The real big question though: Can the video be recorded? If not, when’s that going to happen so it can be shared with coworkers? What better way to brag about your cute dog, while also making sure they’re safe and sound back home?
In the same way you have to childproof the house for a new baby, you should ideally have the same mindset when it comes to adopting pets as well. Particularly with cats, as there’s probably never been another animal to get trapped in bathrooms as much as they do. Maybe because they prefer to sleep in the sink, or drink out of the bathtub, or bury themselves in the laundry hamper, cats seem to have a strange affinity for disappearing into the bathroom — only to meow and howl when the door accidentally gets closed on them.
Speaking of bathrooms, it’s important to research any cleaning products you may be using on all surfaces, as many pets have a strange fascination with licking everything in sight. This is particularly important for dogs who chew on anything within their reach, especially objects that might still be carrying your smell, like pill or lotion bottles. After spring-cleaning the bathroom, it might just be better to keep the doors closed while you’re gone, to ensure your cats don’t get trapped in the cabinets and your dogs don’t wreak havoc on the shower curtains.
In other areas like the kitchen where cats and dogs are more likely to roam, make sure the collar they wear is made with a breakaway snap that will separate if caught on a cabinet door handle or something similar.
Along with knowing what household chemicals you’re using to clean, also be aware of which indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous when ingested, just in case someone decides to go curiously chomping on leaves while you’re not there to supervise. There’s a nice list of tips for pet-proofing your house at AmericanHumane.org.
4. Making up for Lost Fun
If all else fails, ensuring your cat or dog is one hundred percent active and happy while you actually are home might be all you can do, and hopefully the good vibes will carry over into times you’re away.
By playing actively with cats, along with an apologetic cuddle session, they’re sure to forget about ever being alone in the first place, and will go back to kneading your guts and purring like an engine motor.
With dogs, chances are they’re loaded up on excess energy and need a chance to zoom around the yard. Rather than simply letting them out to go at it alone, though, consider taking regular walks with them, if you don’t already. Not only will they be happy to get away from the house and the yard they’re so used to, spending time with their human is probably their favorite thing in the entire world.
Not to mention, frequent walks help out with human health as well, and daily exercise contributes to fighting against numerous everyday diseases you might have never thought about. Things like chronic acid reflux, heart disease, and chronic knee pain, are all things that can be soothed away simply by walking or getting a little bit of extra exercise every day. Two birds with one stone, really. Your dog gets a nice day in the park, and you find relief from everyday human things that are probably caused by your office job — maybe you should consider working from home?