Dr Joanne Righetti - Animal Behaviourist
As an animal behaviourist, I often see animals that demonstrate nuisance behaviours such as destructiveness, barking and escaping. These unwanted behaviours may be a symptom of puppy and kitten exploration and exuberance but they are also commonly exhibited by pets that are bored and/or stressed. Many owners cannot believe that their pet could be bored but many dogs and cats, particularly the more energetic or intelligent ones, need more stimulation than is provided in the average backyard (even a big backyard!).
Other pets become so bonded to their humans that they are stressed when left alone. As with humans, stress is a common part of modern life! Overly dependent pets may need to learn to cope with being alone and be given activities to take their minds off our departure and absence.
Pets love human interaction, so walks, training and games are ideal but we cannot always be there with our animal companions. Pet sitters or day care facilities can be a great relief for many pets and their frustrated owners. Activities such as finding food or playing with a treat ball can be very useful occupiers when home alone. Owners should provide variety in games and toys, and rotate activities around on a daily basis. An occupied pet is less likely to feel bored or stressed and hence less likely to demonstrate those annoying nuisance behaviours.
Dr Joanne Righetti & Leo