Are pets as happy as their owners think they are?
A tough question to think about. As pet owners and pet lovers, we think of our pets as family and we treat them as such. We purchase them the best food, the funnest toys, and the comfiest beds! But, as this article asks, is our relationship with our pets selfish on our part, and do we bring them as much joy as the bring us?
"How many pet owners have even stopped to consider the question? It seems, at first, like a fairly ridiculous question.
Pets have it easy! They don’t have to hunt for their food; you buy it for them and serve it to them. They don’t have to worry about predators; you provide them with shelter and a place to sleep (and, chances are, that place is your own bed). You provide them with medical care, you take them out for exercise — you literally clean up their shit, for heaven’s sake. What more could they need?
At any rate, even the most-loved pets are often bored and lonely, in a way, it’s the same paradox many zoos are facing with their animals. “You hear this all the time. “They say, ‘Well, these animals are really well off, because they don’t have to get their own food — we give it to them — and they don’t have to protect themselves from predators — we do that for them. The problem is they are behaviorally evolved to do those jobs themselves. So it’s leaving all these behavioral needs unmet.” Some zoos now are beginning to address this problem by looking for enrichment opportunities, defined recently by one team of scientists as “making changes to an animal’s environment that provide the animal with added stimulation, choice or control.”“
It seems that we are caught up in loving our pets so much, that we are unintentionally neglecting their natural behavioral needs. Neglecting these instincts is the cause of many behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, destructive chewing, urinating/marking, barking, aggression, and more. Something as simple as allowing your pets to work for their food using puzzle and interactive food dispensers can fulfill the instinctual behavior of working for food.
"Pierce’s (writer) intention isn’t to condemn pet owners, but if she’s made them feel guilty — well, good. Investigate that feeling, she urges, and understand that pet ownership isn’t something to be taken lightly. Our animals make our lives so happy; it’s the least we can do for them in return."
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Photo: Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures