You know the drill. You close the door, wait for a split second to make sure everything is copacetic, and suddenly the howling begins. You know they’re up to no good later, too. In Universal Studio’s The Secret Life of Pets (in theaters now!) hijinks, hilarity, and action ensue as soon as the humans shut the door; things get crazy! So how do you keep your best buddy happy and distracted (and safe and sound) while you’re out?
The Old Stand-Bys
The great news is that the good, old-fashioned approaches of treats and toys still work. For dogs, fill a KONG with peanut butter and let her have it (but be sure to get that pup plenty of exercise to offset the increase in calories). Supplement yummy treats with some seriously indestructible toys as well, a made-for-dogs rope or a really tough bone works wonders for a canine insistent on chewing. For cats, MeowBox has a great selection of toys and treats every month to keep cats engaged and stimulated, including the actual box it’s shipped in (which you know your kitty is going to love the most).
Some dedicated pet owners sprinkle treats or kibble throughout the house as part of a self-styled scavenger hunt during the day (which makes leaving easy because you can sneak out as your dog or cat goes hunting).
Entertainment Goes to the Dogs
Both dogs and cats, if not crated, enjoy watching “television”, whether that’s the literal DogTV on DirectTV, programming for dogs or by peeking their little noses through the curtains to watch what’s going on in the neighborhood. Leave window treatments open and put a pillow or cushion in a chair in front of the window so your dog or cat can jump up and see what’s going on outside.
Even leaving the radio on reportedly soothes the savage beast. University of Glasgow PhD researcher Amy Bowman warns that dogs, like people, prefer to listen to “a variety of music and not the same thing over and over again,” so change the station every day or play podcasts.
A Tired Dog is a Good Dog
Since dogs are a little more dependent, you might benefit from making plans with neighbors or friends to stagger playdates for puppies, or if you have the means, drop off at a doggy daycare. The tried and true system to keep your dog busy, though, is to schedule a walker to come by and take your dog out. If you can’t manage to hire one, though, a walk before you leave should do the trick. Dogs and cats sleep about 18 hours a day, so wearing them out isn’t too hard!
There’s a ton of new gadgets that make checking in on your dog or cat during the day enormously easy. Our favorites are PetCube to peek in and visually see the action in your home (it’s a wifi camera and audio device linked to your phone so you can see, hear and speak to your pet) and the GPS-driven Whistle, an on-collar device that tracks your pet’s activity straight to your phone, which also is a great investment should your furry family member ever get lost.