Imagine being alone all day, living in the same environment you've explored thousands of times. You have nothing to do except sleep and wait for your roommate to get home to feed and hopefully spend time with you. He’s been rather stressed out and crabby lately. Your quality time together has nearly come to a halt and you have little to look forward to every day except eating.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? That’s the life that many pets endure, week after week, year after year. No wonder they’re bored out of their minds, or destructive of our property and/or compulsively pulling their own hair and feathers, chewing their paws and fur down to the skin.


Most dogs were bred for a specific purpose like hunting, retrieving, guarding or rescuing. In nature, wild dogs hunt in packs all day and are always on the move. Other animals like horses, cats, rodents, reptiles or birds keep busy in the wild by foraging for food, tending for the young and participating in various social interactions.

Animals instinctively need something to seek or hunt as well as social interaction and play time. Without daily mental and physical stimulation, the home you lovingly created for them becomes a boring prison. Some animal caregivers miss the telltale signs of animal stress and boredom. They think the animal is merely lazy, naturally listless or destructive.

Bored animals may even manifest emotional disorders or physical conditions to get more attention and love.


One of my out-of-state horse owner clients “Rhea” contacted me because her gelding, “Draco”, had recently begun obsessively chewing on everything he could reach in his stall. The veterinarian’s exam indicated no disease or conditions to cause the chewing.

With Rhea on the phone I tuned into Draco in his stall. I felt despair and sorrow, a deep heaviness in my heart and asked him what was wrong. I clearly heard, “I need a job! I feel worthless, useless.” He explained that his human mommy kept telling him that when the snowy weather cleared, they’d resume their trail riding. That knowledge gave him something to look forward to. It was the only thing that got him through the winter months. Not only had the winter season passed, but spring was moving into summer and still no riding. He realized that the chewing got him out of the barn more often and was actually comforting to release his boredom and stress. “I’d rather be riding trails with Mommy,” he said.

I relayed this to Rhea who explained that she’d been working lots of overtime because she was afraid that if she refused it she would lose her job. She’d only had the time and energy to exercise him on a lunge line in the pasture since the previous fall. Rhea said she understood how much Draco loved the trail riding, the change of scenery and that he needed to resume his job, which relieved her stress and his, too. She purposefully scheduled trail ride time for several days each week. Soon Draco’s obsessive chewing stopped.


Meeting the basic needs of shelter, water and food is not enough to maintain an animal’s well being. Human caregivers of domestic animals can take a lesson from the new animal husbandry practiced by many zoos and wildlife parks: give the animals daily tasks that keep them busy, relieve boredom and stimulate their bodies and minds.

Check out the below list and find some stimulation that both you and your animal might enjoy.

1) LEARN ANIMAL COMMUNICATION: one of the most wonderful gifts to give yourself and your animal is to learn inter-species communication. Anyone can do it, and plenty of information is available to learn how. You can also contact a professional animal communicator for one-on-one or group training. (See bottom of page for free DIY ebook!)

2) INTERACTIVE TOYS: introduce these increasingly popular boredom-blaster items into the animal’s environment, then move them around every few days. Horses and other pasture animals like to roll spools and chase balls just like home-bound animals do, and the activity is good exercise.

3) FOOD HUNT: animals naturally forage for food in the wild. Toys are available that can be filled with food and left for the animal to hunt down and open.

4) GUARD THE HOME: before you leave your house or apartment, tell your animal friend(s) that they’ve been assigned the job of keeping your home safe and protected.

5) INCREASE EXERCISE VIA LEARNING: teaching your animals new tricks stimulates your mind and body as well as that of your pets. I recently saw a kit to teach tricks to aquarium fish. Why not?

6) TAKE A CLASS: Your local community’s animal-related businesses may offer classes with additional ideas to keep your pets busy, including handmade toys and boredom-blasters.

7) TAKE A WALK: Dogs aren't the only animals who enjoy getting out of the home. People are now walking their cats, pot-bellied pigs, and reptiles.

8) JOIN A GROUP: Depending on your type of pet, you may want to join groups that meet and compete in activities or events that animals enjoy like obstacle courses or fun, easy races. No groups or events like this in your community? Start one yourself for the sake of the animals!

As we humans accept that animals not only have emotions but they need mental stimulation, we’ll be able to provide more enjoyable environments to help them live happier, healthier, longer and higher quality lives.

Author's Bio: 

Colleen Flanagan is an expert in inter-species communications and emotional clearing for animals and their humans. Colleen Flanagan, EFT-INTc / EFTCert-1, is a mind-body-emotions expert and the author of several Amazon books including Tapping Success Scripts and Tapping for Rescued & Adopted Dogs. Enjoy complimentary mind-body videos, articles, books, and audios at Get your free “Animal Communication, Animal Healing” e-book ($27 value) at