8 Ways To Keep Your Pet Entertained While They’re Home Alone
From treats to games, here's how to keep them busy.
As we start spending more time away from home — meaning away from our beloved pets — we humans and our furry friends are likely on our way to adjusting to a new routine. The last thing we want to be worrying about while trying to get work done is if our pets are feeling bored, so it’s imperative that you give them some stimulation to keep them occupied while they have the run of the house for the day.
You already know the basic ground rules for leaving your pet at home: Give them enough food and water, exercise your dog before you leave, and pick up any items that could be dangerous for them to get into.
Keep reading for our top picks for toys, games and tricks that will keep your pup or cat entertained when you need to leave them on their own. And if you want to check in on them while you’re out and about, set up a Google Nest Cam — they come with built-in intelligent alerts so you can check-in at any time and make sure your pet is relaxed and enjoying their new toys and treats, from wherever you are.
Make a safe space
First things first: leave your dog or cat in an area of the house where they feel comfortable, secure and happy — and, where they won’t get into anything too naughty (like the kitchen, perhaps?). For dogs, consider blocking off a part of the house like the living room where they have all their favorite toys and a cuddly cave bed. For kitties, you could make a spot on a windowsill or leave out a self-warming bed for them to snuggle up in.
Fill a toy with frozen treats
There’s a reason fillable toys are the gold standard for keeping pets busy. For dogs, fill a hollow rubber toy with peanut butter or another favorite filling and freeze it overnight for hours of licking fun. For cats, grab something similar and fill it with treats that dispense as they play for an interactive challenge.
Secure the entertainment
Believe it or not, there are TV networks, YouTube channels and radio stations tailored for keeping your dog or cat engaged and calm. For pups, turn on DOGTV before you head out for programming designed to alleviate stress and anxiety throughout the day. For cats, there are a ton of fun YouTube channels full of flying birds, moving scenery and kitty-approved games.
Then lure the entertainment to your window
Feed your hungry backyard birds and give your kitties something to watch with a window feeder. The birds will flock to the feed and your kitties will be glued to the action outside! It’s a low-cost, low-maintenance way to wow your cats for hours at a time.
Rotate some brain game toys
Treat-dispensing and puzzle toys reward your pup or kitty for completing a challenge, and keep them mentally stimulated. These toys help fight off boredom (aka when pets start getting destructive) and tap into their natural instincts to hunt and forage. Try out a fun wobbly toy or an interactive puzzle for dogs, and a treat maze or a hidden toy box for cats.
Lay out a snuffle mat or scratcher bed
Snuffle mats are almost too cute to be believed — and something you definitely want to watch your pup getting into via your Nest Cam intelligent alerts. These fun mats come in a ton of adorable patterns (think: sunflower garden) to keep your pup engaged in nose play. Sprinkle tiny bits of tasty crumbly treats in all the crevices of the mat and let your dog go to work hunting for every last bit. For cats, try out a two-in-one scratcher bed (usually infused with catnip, yum), which keeps claws off your furniture and provides a great nap space.
Be a catnip fairy
Before you leave, sprinkle some catnip on cat beds, in various nooks and crannies or on toys for them to discover throughout their day and get excited, start licking or roll around until they snooze. Or keep some enticing catnip toys behind closed doors and only take them out right before you leave to keep them feeling excited and new.
Tap into the thrill of the chase
If your pup or kitty loves to chase anything and everything, try out an automated toy that jumps, wiggles and rolls. Find one for your cat that turns on and off at random times — it gives them something to hunt or chase when you’re not around. For dogs, try out an electronic toy that can be paired with a smartphone app so you can have fun controlling the movements remotely — and then watch the hilarity unfold on your Nest Cam.