You've seen the pics online. A guilty dog stares at the camera while behind him lies a mountain of destruction: ripped wallpaper, a tipped-over trash can, a pillow leaking feathers.
Pets left alone for hours often suffer from separation anxiety and/or boredom as they wait for their owners to return home. Loneliness can lead to unwanted behaviors such as chewing on your favorite shoes, hiding, and even vomiting. Pet stress can also be triggered by common situations such as houseguests, renovations, or even a new baby. Add fireworks, loud music, and raucous parties to the list too.
What can you do to help your cat or dog cope? Turn to enrichment toys and puzzle games designed to reduce pet stress. These products keep cats and dogs mentally stimulated and physically engaged so they're more relaxed, not as anxious about being alone, and less bothered by their environment.
Enrichment toys offer different levels of difficulty and a variety of challenges. Most are reward-based, which means they involve yummy treats or food. For cats, catnip buds or even a catnip spray will help rev up feline curiosity and lead to pouncing and playing. Check out the 18 interactive toys we found to keep your pet engaged and entertained.
Pounce on these tips for sharing puzzle toys with your furry friend.
Perfect for curious canines, this soft translucent toy lets dogs see and smell their treats while working to get them out. Shift the pieces into different shapes to keep your furry genius engaged.
Buy it now: $26.52; Amazon
Smarty-pants pooches need to figure out how to unlock bone pieces to open the drawers and get their rewards.
Buy it now: $16.99; Amazon
Help dogs relieve boredom by giving them an ultra-durable rubber Kong to chew. Fill it with kibble to extend playtime.
Buy it now: $12.99; Amazon
Four layers of fun include 12 compartments to hide treats. The spinning movement keeps pets focused.
Buy it now: $19.08; Amazon
Made from bonded plastic and tough climbing rope, this large chewable tug toy stands up to vigorous play.
Buy it now: $11.77; Amazon
Dogs need to nudge, nose, and paw this squishy, translucent toy to find hidden food.
Buy it now: $13.50; Amazon
Clever compartments flip, slide, or can be removed to offer different challenges every time a dog seeks snacks.
Buy it now: $19.99; Amazon
Clip activities to this sturdy nylon mat, then challenge your dog to retrieve hidden treasures. The starter set includes three activities; additional ones can be purchased separately.
Buy it now: $44.99; Amazon
Perfect for foraging, this washable food mat relies on a dog’s sense of smell to snuffle his way through dinner or treat-time fun.
Buy it now: $39.95; Amazon
Clearly engaging, this pliable ball lets dogs hear, see, and smell treats as they try to solve the puzzle.
Buy it now: $13.59; Amazon
Whether rolling or bouncing, this toy randomly dispenses treats as your dog moves it around.
Buy it now: $8.79; Pet Central
White handles must be unlocked to reveal rewards, making this toy fun for savvy canine gamers.
Buy it now: $17.27; Amazon
Heavy-duty cardboard boxes secure to each other to form climbing structures that keep kitty entertained. Move and rearrange them at will.
Buy it now: $29.99; Amazon
Set up a starter track that lets kitty chase after balls. Separately purchased enrichment stations add fun.
Buy it now: $39.67; Amazon
Fill them with your cat’s daily food allowance, then hide them for a real hunting experience.
Buy it now: $15.25; Amazon