Whether you’re like me and adopted a pet during the early period of the pandemic or have had pets for years, the fact of the matter is that most of us have been working from home over the past two years—and our fur family members have certainly gotten used to it. Now that many offices are returning to the office either full time or have adopted a hybrid model, that means we’ll have to go back to leaving our pets home alone for multiple hours on end several days a week—a reality that has caused both my pets and I a good deal of anxiety. To help reduce separation anxiety for both animals and humans, I’ve recently been on the hunt in search of the best toys for pets home alone, and fortunately, there are plenty of interactive options to keep them distracted and keep pet owners’ guilt at bay (at least, to some extent.)
While you may be fully aware of your pet’s separation anxiety thanks to them unapologetically protesting your departure every time you try to leave the house, other animals exhibit less obvious signs of pet anxiety, including potty accidents, digestive issues, and even aggressive behavior. Of course, even if you’re pet doesn’t have pet separation anxiety, you also don’t want them to be bored all day while you’re not around, which is yet another good reason to invest in some of the best toys for pets home alone. These interactive tools come in a wide range of varieties for both cats and dogs, and some are equipped with upgraded features to help soothe your separation anxiety while away (i.e. cameras and automatic treat dispensers).
Even if you’re still working remotely and get stay home with your fur babies, these interactive pet toys are also a huge help for keeping them distracted (and quiet) when you’re taking important Zoom calls or just need to focus on something without interruption. Basically, if you’re a caring pet parent, you’re going to want to add some of the best toys for pets home alone to your current lineup regardless of your work status. After all, giving them a dedicated toy to play with beats them chewing up your favorite pair of shoes or clawing away at your brand new sofa—trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way.
Petcube Play 2 Wi-Fi Pet Camera with Laser Toy
Both dog and cat-approved, this high-tech pet/security camera and toy hybrid is the ultimate solution to keeping pets entertained and anxiety-free. Plus, it’ll also help reduce pet parents’ anxiety too because it’s equipped with smartphone compatibility and even vet support.
“As someone who tends to worry about my animals when I’m away (and as someone who feels guilty for leaving them in the first place, even if I’m just away at work) having Petcube really brings peace of mind. My cats seem to love it, too – they’re more relaxed and at ease when they can get some interaction during the day while I’m gone,” one reviewer wrote.
Starmark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Pet Toy
Not only does this interactive feeding dog toy help keep your pup entertained and engaged, but it also helps them get a bit of exercise while you’re not around to take them out for a walk.
“My dog was having some issues with being left for more than a couple [of] hours and our trainer suggested that we look into some interactive feeding solutions. I spent quite a bit of money on various ones, and this is by far her favorite. When I got it I really didn’t think she would like it. But she took right to it. I like that I can change the size of the holes to make it easier or harder,” one Amazon customer said in her review.
LickiMat Tuff Playdate
One of Scouted’s contributors swears by this slow-feeder alternative to keep his dog distracted and entertained while he works from home.
“The Lickimat isn’t a dog toy—it’s a lifesaver, and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that. Unlike other toys that you can put food in or around, like Kongs, I like how this stays flat and for the most part, can be kept in its designated area,” he said.
Rechargeable Motion Activated Cat Laser Toy
When I first adopted my then one-year-old cat in April 2020, I was surprised at how much attention and playtime he needed—he is very vocal and had no qualms about interrupting Zoom calls or stepping over my laptop and sending accidental emails. This automatic laser toy was literally a godsend—plus it saved me from serious arm fatigue. As long as it’s turned on, it’s motion-activated, making it perfect for pets to play with when they’re home alone. One of my dogs even likes it. Who knew?
Nina Ottosson Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy
This interactive treat puzzle is the perfect home-alone toy for dogs—and they even get rewarded with treats without you having to dispense them! There’s a reason this dog toy is backed by over 70,000 glowing reviews.
“This is awesome! My border collie’s level of intelligence is a part-time job for me. He requires engagement and he figures out everything fast. This puzzle took him a good hour and a half to figure out the first time and every time after that, he sits with this for about an hour,” wrote one five-star Amazon reviewer.
Moropaky Heartbeat Toy for Puppy Dog Anxiety Relief
Powered by sound therapy, this adorable plush dog toy helps to soothe pet anxiety by mimicking the sound of heartbeats.
“We purchased this so we would have it for our new puppy when we brought him home. He absolutely loves it. It’s his new best friend. He drags it around with him and sleeps with it, also chews on it and it’s holding up nicely. So glad we got this for his transition from the litter into our home where he’s the only pup,” one recent reviewer said.
Smart Bone Automatic & Interactive Toy for Dogs & Cats
This smart bone toy is equipped with Bluetooth functionality and an accompanying app that allows you to control the toy remotely when you’re not home. You can either set the interactive toy to the auto-play mode or control the virtual joystick in drive mode using the app.
“At first I was skeptical about the Wickedbone and how my dog would engage. She’s a 2.5 year old Havanese that loves her toys and loves to play fetch. The Wickedbone was easy to set up and can give your dog a workout. The preset programs are great to get her engaged but when I really want to give her a work out, I steer the bone from my iPhone and it drives her crazy,’ said one five-star reviewer.
Hyper Pet Doggie Tail Interactive Plush Dog Toy
Down from $29
This boredom-eliminating and motion-activated plush toy will keep your pup stimulated for hours. However, some reviewers suggest making sure to stock up on batteries as the battery life isn’t stellar.
“I bought this toy about a month and a half ago. Let me first say, hands down this has been my 8 month old Welsh Corgi puppies favorite toy. In fact I bought the green and pink Alien one first and quickly realized I needed a back up so I ordered the grey furry one. After the initial reaction of her barking and circling it, no lie, she played with this toy for an hour or more ALONE while I worked outside,” one pleased shopper wrote.
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