How to Keep Your Pets Engaged while You're at Work

Cute dog wearing glasses

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

With Covid receding from the world borders, and the long saga of work from home coming to a gradual end for many employees, a new worry arises at the doorstep of pet owners: how to deal with pets who have grown accustomed to having their parents around all day at their beck and call?

Separation anxiety is real and has been spotted in both pets and their owners in recent months. This phenomenon is more common in ‘quarantine pets’, referred to pets who were adopted during the quarantine period of 2020-2021 and therefore have not experienced much life without their owners being at home. 

But unless you were able to bag a permanently work-from-home job and/or can afford a pet sitter, separation from your pet during your daily 9-5 is inevitable (and not all office spaces provide a pet daycare centre), we are here to ease your troubles and make your pets’ time at home a little more enjoyable.  

For the Canine Friends 

Dogs, being the more active, happy, and social bunch of pets, are more prone to separation anxiety as compared to other pets. They are mostly ‘people-pets’, extroverts, and love to be surrounded by their humans. Therefore, it becomes a little tricky when said human has to leave them alone and head to work for 8 whole hours of the day. 

Here are a few ways for you to keep your pets engaged while you’re away. 

DIY food dispensing toys

You do not need to buy expensive dispenser toys but can make a few at home. suggests freezing ice cubes and hiding little treats or a gravy bone in one or two of them and spreading them across the house. It’s a great way to keep your dogs occupied when they find these mysterious objects on the floor. They will play with them, lick them (thus adding hydration), and in the end, might also be surprised by a mini treat. 

It takes 10-15 mins of prep time and is an excellent way to pet three birds with one hand (in this house, we do not condone violence against birds, even in idioms and proverbs). 

Hide-and-seek games

Another DIY trick is to hide toys (or other things your dogs like) all over the house. Most dogs are curious creatures and they will go around the house in your absence. Few of these places can also have a treat kept for them. It is suggested that you practice this game once or twice with your dog and set a standard beginning so that you can start the game and leave when going to work, and your dog would know what is happening and what to do next. 

Get your dog a furry brother or sister

Dogs prosper amongst company. A slightly more expensive (but never a bad idea) would be to keep adopting a second dog to keep your eldest child company. We do realise that this might not be a feasible option for everyone out there, but if you have the means, this is always a good way to go. 

We, at Al Hayat, are always up for encouraging people to adopt more (and not buy)!

For your Feline Friends

When it comes to keeping them engaged, pet owners do not face the same amount of challenges when it comes to cats compared to dogs. This is probably because cats are naturally aloof, like to keep to themselves, and are pretty much independent. However, this does not apply to every cat, and regardless, it is never a bad idea to put forth options of activities for your cats to indulge themselves in (of course, only if they get bored of harassing the pigeons on the window sill of the neighbourhood building).

Cardboard boxes

Cats and their empty boxes is a love saga told over and over again. Put out several parcel boxes across the house (and maybe fill one or two of them with a light sheet or blanket), and let your cats wander about, find them, and curl up inside. 

Cat specific furniture

Because cats are difficult to domesticate, it is always a good idea to invest in (or maybe build, even) cat-specific furniture. These would include cat trees and scratching posts, which would provide your cats with ample entertainment while you’re at work. 

Puzzle Toys

Another investment would be getting puzzle toys (for the more curious kitties) where they have to solve puzzles (very cat-appropriate ones) to reveal treats or wet food. 

Other methods that would work for both cats and dogs

  • Put cat or dog-specific videos on youtube, such as birds chirping, rats running, vegetables dancing, etc. and let your pets stay entertained by them. 
  • Soothing ambient sounds can also help your pets relax, calm their nerves, and help them sleep. 
  • If possible, try to keep a window for them to gaze upon the hustle and bustle of the outside world (this is where your cats would probably spend most of their time).
  • Start the day with a high level of activity so that by the time you leave for work, they’re already tired and off to bed for a more relaxed day.