Are you frustrated because your dog or cat is bored with their toys? Unlike most humans, pets spend the majority of their lives inside the home. This is why they need plenty of activities, games, and other forms of enrichment as a part of their well-being. It can be tricky, though, when your pet snubs most of the toys and games you give them. They may be excited at first with a favored toy, only to drop them in the yard, never to play with them again. 

Imagine if you were in their shoes (um, paws) and had to spend endless hours in the home (like most of us have done during COVID-19). You’d want something new to do, right? This is why the team at Union Lake Pet Services is here with some suggestions for when your dog or cat is bored with their toys. Let’s play!

What to Do When Your Dog or Cat Is Bored with Their Toys

Pets show a strong preference for certain types of enrichment. “Neophilia”, a term associated with a fixation on novelty, is why many pets get tired of one toy and want something new, sometimes almost right away. In dogs, there is much research on this phenomena and its development over the course of their domestication.

Getting back to the topic of boredom, there are ways you can bring back enthusiasm in your pet who’s stuck in a toy rut. 

1. Know what it is your pet enjoys Take time to explore what it is that excites your pet. What does your pet think is fun? Is it interactive activities? Stuffed toys? Things that make noise? See how they react to a variety of toys and see which ones inspire your pet to become more animated and engaged.

2. Rotate out which toys your pet has access toIf you want your pet to enjoy certain toys again (assuming they did before), put them in the closet for a few weeks. Once you retrieve them, there’s a strong chance that your furry one will think they are entirely new toys and re-engage with playing with them once more. A good idea is to figure out what your pet’s favorites are. After a few days, stow them away, then bring something else in. After a while reintroduce the toy, especially after they did something positive.

3. Add more exercise and forego toys If your pet isn’t enjoying their toys, they may prefer activities instead. Go for a walk, use a laser pointer for them to run after, play a game of tug of war, or throw a Frisbee in the backyard. Some pets would rather do something high energy than play with toys.

4. Use interactive toysInteractive toys are great for both cats and dogs in that they are more challenging and require the time it takes to figure them out. Activity games like Trixie’s Flip Board Strategy Game, Hide and Seek Plush Volcano toy by Friscoe, or the SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Motion cat toy are good choices. Treat dispensing puzzles are an effective way to keep your pet enthused, or a frozen Kong toy filled with a bit of peanut butter. If you are concerned about the number of calories your pet is getting, use the dispensing puzzle as a way to feed your pet their normal meal, instead of extra treats.

5. Play with them Our pets need an ample amount of our attention and affection each day. If they are getting bored with their toys, it may mean that they need more attention from you. Figure out a few games they enjoy playing, such as tossing the ball, running together, using feather toys to get them to chase you, and so on. This gives them the exercise they need while strengthening your bond with them.

If your dog or cat is bored with their toys, this could be a signal for you to change things up a bit for them. Pets like novelty, just like people, and having new games, activities, and toys really enhances their quality of life and general happiness. 

If your pet doesn’t want to play at all, they may be in pain or experiencing something health-wise. If your pet is lethargic, disinterested in exercise, and has other behavior changes, bring them in to your veterinarian. For any additional questions or to schedule an appointment, please contact us