Our pets need a lot of love and attention, but they also like their own space. Most dogs and cats are territorial, so it’s important they have areas in “their” home set up for them to sleep, play and hideout if they want to. While most pet parents would love to spend their days at home with their furry friends or take them to work, the reality is that most have to leave those sweet faces behind every weekday morning. Don’t stress, says Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, “the truth is, your pet can handle short periods of alone time just fine, especially if you set up a ‘safe zone’ to keep them comfortable and entertained.”
The area itself
A dog zone doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, many dogs prefer smaller spaces that are quiet and comfortable. Also, limiting your dog’s access to the rest of the house may prevent unwanted behaviour like chewing and toilet accidents. Your cat would love a window seat to watch the world go by and a perched seat panders to their ego of being in charge. Some toys will help to keep them entertained while you are out.
Almost any spare space in your home can double as an area for your cat or dog; just make sure it’s spacious enough so that they don’t feel caged in. If you live in a small apartment, a baby gate or playpen can provide a secure boundary for a small dog but can be folded up and stashed out of sight when you’re at home. If you prefer for your cat to remain indoors when you are out, make sure all the windows are closed before you leave and that she has all she needs to be safe and comfortable while you are out.
Once you’ve chosen your pet zone, it’s time to make it safe and comfortable. If your pet is older and settled, you won’t need to do much beyond the obvious cleaning up and creating a stimulating and comfortable environment. But if you have a young, rambunctious, or anxious pet, you’ll want to take steps to pet-proof the environment:
- Store cleaning materials and food in another room, or behind firmly closed cabinet doors
- Ensure that they can’t get into any cupboards
- Tape down any electrical wires – this is especially important for younger pets and dogs that are prone to chewing things
- Remove dustbins
- Put away shoes, clothing, kids’ toys, and anything else you wouldn’t want your pet playing with, scratching or chewing while you’re not around
A place to lay their head
Dogs spend about 50 per cent of the day sleeping, and cats even more so, so comfort really counts. Make a soft, relaxing bed the focal point of your pet zone. Add a blanket for snuggling, and perhaps one of your old T-Shirts for a sensory reminder of you. This Spring, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, will be giving pet parents the opportunity to take home a designer Hill’s cat or dog bed when they buy two qualifying bags of Hill’s Science Plan or Prescription Diet dog or cat food*.
The plush, beautifully designed beds will not only make your pet happy but will look fabulous in your home too.
While your pet may sleep for half of the day, or more than half, in some cases; there will be times when you’re out and they’re awake. For this reason, it’s important to provide them with an enriching environment to keep them busy, the last thing you want is for them to get bored and act out. Cats love feathery toys, scratch posts, or even a good, old box, will bring out the kitten in them and expend any pent-up energy. For dogs, a tasty chew toy will keep them busy for hours.
Keep water accessible
Your pet always needs to have fresh water easily available, so make sure to keep a bowl of water in their zone while you are out.
Soothing sights and sounds
You may have heard that some pet parents leave the TV or radio on for their pet when they are out. They may just be onto something. The sounds and colours from the TV will provide entertainment, comfort and may even help to calm anxious pets.
The most important thing is that your pet zone is a safe and comfortable place for your furry friend to hang out in while they await your return.
*Available from 2nd September, at selected participating vet outlets around the country, while stocks last