boredom & nuisance behaviour
There is a concern that bored pets will make their own fun by tearing the house apart and generally be a nuisance. However, few pet owners surveyed had issues with nuisance behaviour, and those who did dealt with the problem without really being aware that they did so.
Almost 60% of cat owners provided a scratching post to reduce destructive behaviour, while the key strategy for avoiding nuisance behaviour from dogs was providing more exercise (28% of dog owners). Other strategies included training of dogs (22% of owners); provision of more toys (21%) and/or provision of more company (16%). Interestingly, more owners were prepared to allow their pet to continue its destructive ways (5%) than sought help from a professional (3%) – perhaps indicating that much of the destructive behaviour was mild in nature.
Pet-proofing was important in some cases. If an animal played havoc in a particular room or area of the house, that area was blocked off when the owner was absent. Precious and breakable items were stored out of harm’s way to minimise any damage.
Other coping strategies included providing treats, such as bones and chew toys, during the day. Some owners went to great lengths to provide their pet with human or animal company, by taking them out as much as possible, dropping them off at someone else’s house when they went out, or taking them to work. Sometimes these arrangements seemed to evolve as a matter of circumstance; for example, an elderly neighbour noticing a dog was spending time alone during the day and volunteering to call in and visit the dog. Likewise, people initially took their dog to work on a one-off occasion, then when they realised it was beneficial to the dog, the owner and the office to have pets at work it became normal practice.