Learn about the responsibilities of being a pet owner.


You may not be familiar with the phrase ‘environmental enrichment’. However, it’s something that is very important in keeping your pet’s body and mind healthy, stimulated, and able to cope with change. Enrichment also helps lower your pet’s stress levels and reduces the occurrence of unwanted behaviours.


There are many different types of enrichment:

  • Cognitive
  • Dietary
  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Social


It’s important to use different types of enrichment, as this keeps life interesting for your pet. A boring environment can contribute to problems such as:

  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • destructive behavior
  • depression
  • excessive vocalisation


Animals who don’t receive enough enrichment are also at risk of developing boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviors such as:

  • chewing inappropriate items
  • compulsive behavior
  • loss of appetite
  • over-eating
  • over-grooming
  • picking on other pets
  • retreating into isolation
  • self-mutilation


Food plays a big part of your pet’s daily routine and can be used to reduce boredom. For example, try:

  • freezing some of your pet’s dinner
  • incorporating training with food rewards
  • making your pet work for his food with food-dispensing toys


Exercise and supervised access outside of the yard or enclosure can also be a good way to enrich your pet’s life. However, be sure that this doesn’t become too overwhelming. If your pet is easily frightened or is not used to change, take it slow.


Most companion animals are generally social beings, so introducing them to playmates can often help meet some of their needs. For example, a lone bird in a cage could benefit from having a cage mate, or having another bird in an aviary or cage nearby.


Here are some other ways of keeping your pet’s life enriched and interesting:

  • Access to windows or views
  • Different textures for your pet to rub against or walk on
  • New smells, including herbs, perfumes or other animals
  • Providing your pet with choice. He should be able to choose whether he wants to sit in the sun or shade, play or sleep, and interact with you or other pets, or retreat into a safe space.
  • Sounds such as classical music, purpose-made music tracks and videos for animals, and talk back radio