1. Include your pet on errands
If your dog is calm in a crowd, bring them along on the walk to school drop-off. On the way back you can add a detour to squeeze in a bit of extra exercise.
“Keeping your pet happy isn’t just about exercise, it’s about entertaining their brain, too,” says Chad McMillan, owner of A Pet’s Life at the corner of Fort and Foul Bay. “If your pet loves car rides, bring them along when you’re running errands — it might end up being the highlight of their day.”
Remember to think ahead before packing Rover into the back seat — you shouldn’t leave any animal in a hot parked car. But if you’re dropping the kids off at soccer practice and then driving home, your pet might really enjoy it!
2. Pet puzzles keep furballs occupied when you’re away
Stop by A Pet’s Life and ask the knowledgable staff to help you choose a few toys for your pet. Many include secret compartments for food that will keep your pet puzzled for… well, minutes at least.
- Outward Hound Dog Tornado: A spinning puzzle with 12 compartments for snacks or kibble.
- Sodapup Coffee Cup: A durable puzzle toy great for stuffing with peanut butter, kibble or one of these great recipes.
- Chews: A chunky chew your pet can gnaw for hours is great entertainment, and also a natural toothbrush. Chad likes giving his dog June raw turkey necks, but recommends them as an outdoor treat!
“If you have more than one toy or puzzle, you can rotate them to keep pets engaged,” Chad says. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money though — hiding treats around the house is a great way to occupy cats and dogs while all the humans are gone.”
3. Make a plan, and include your kids
Before school starts, sit down with your kids and make a plan for your pet’s care. Can you put them in charge of filling the smart toy every morning, or hiding treats around the house? If mornings are too busy, encourage your kids to prioritize your pet right after school.
“Walks aren’t the only thing that contribute to your pet’s happiness. If your kids spend ten minutes after school playing fetch, flashing the laser pointer or just snuggling, your pet will feel the love,” Chad says.
If you’re still concerned about your pets feeling lonely, bored or stressed, you can always hire a dog-walker or sign up for doggie daycare. Even if it’s just once or twice a week, having other human visits can help break up the routine. But remember — some pets enjoy a bit of alone time, and might relish the opportunity for an uninterrupted catnap.