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Should I leave the radio on for my pet?

Should I leave the radio on for my pet?

A number of people I know leave the radio or TV on for their pets. For some of the dogs I walk, I’m asked by their owners to leave the radio on as I leave, but should we be leaving the radio or TV on for our pets? Here are my thoughts.

Reasons why you might leave the radio on for your pet

The most common reason for leaving the TV or radio on for our pets is for company. Many of us like having the TV or radio on in the background to hide the silence that we would otherwise have. Some pet parents therefore would believe that it is similar for our pets. If there is background sound our pets won’t feel alone. This is similar to leaving the TV or radio on to alleviate anxiety in a pet. Some pets get anxious when left alone so their human might leave the TV or radio on to ease this anxiety by offering comfort or by potentially disguising anxiety-inducing noises the pet might otherwise be able to hear such as fireworks or construction works.
In some cases, pet owners leave the TV or radio on to relieve boredom. This is more common in parrot owners.

When does it work?

Dogs are social creatures, (mostly!) and I think it depends upon the individual dog. If there is more than one dog in the house then they probably don’t need the TV or radio left on as they have each other, unless, of course, you’re using the sound of the TV or radio to distract from other noises. One anxious dog can often cause the other dog to become anxious too.
Some dogs might be quite happy on their own and not need any sounds, the TV or radio to them might be similar to us having to listen to traffic sound all day!
Some dogs will learn that if the TV or radio goes on as you leave, then they’re in for a period of alone time. It might just signal for them to go and take a nap on the sofa.
Cats are not social creatures by nature, though each cat is different I would expect that they really couldn’t care less if the TV or radio is left on or not.

Parrots are different. They are social creatures and would normally be found in quite large and noisy groups. With this in mind leaving the TV or radio on for them is quite a good idea. Many parrot owners report that their parrot becomes much less noisy and destructive when the TV or radio is left on.

When does it work?

Dogs are social creatures, (mostly!) and I think it depends upon the individual dog. If there is more than one dog in the house then they probably don’t need the TV or radio left on as they have each other, unless, of course, you’re using the sound of the TV or radio to distract from other noises. One anxious dog can often cause the other dog to become anxious too.
Some dogs might be quite happy on their own and not need any sounds, the TV or radio to them might be similar to us having to listen to traffic sound all day!
Some dogs will learn that if the TV or radio goes on as you leave, then they’re in for a period of alone time. It might just signal for them to go and take a nap on the sofa.
Cats are not social creatures by nature, though each cat is different I would expect that they really couldn’t care less if the TV or radio is left on or not.

Parrots are different. They are social creatures and would normally be found in quite large and noisy groups. With this in mind leaving the TV or radio on for them is quite a good idea. Many parrot owners report that their parrot becomes much less noisy and destructive when the TV or radio is left on.

When it might not work

Dogs have far more sensitive hearing than humans. They can detect much quieter sounds and can detect much higher frequencies. In fact, their sense of hearing is about four times as sensitive as ours. If you leave the TV or radio on be sure not to leave it on too loud.
Is the radio station a calming station? You might enjoy a bit of heavy metal or grunge but your dog probably won’t.

If you leave the TV or radio on for your pet to drown out other sounds, remember that their range of hearing is much bigger than ours and they will most likely still hear some of the noises you are trying to hide. It is not advisable to turn up the volume.

Alternative ideas

Still unsure whether you should leave the TV or radio on for your pet? Here are a few alternative ideas:

  • Take your dog for a long morning walk. Yes, this might mean getting up a little earlier but not only will you feel good, but it will help your dog to rest when you leave and can help to relieve anxiety.
  • Offer your pet a warm and safe place to rest when you’re not there.
  • If you’re worried about boredom then leave safe toys for your pet.
  • You can set up a few interactive toys to keep your pet busy and mentally stimulated.
  • Timed feeders can be used to relieve boredom. Set the feeders up with a few treats or split your pet’s breakfast into two portions, one portion as their regular breakfast and the second portion in the timed feeder set a few hours later. Don’t feed extra portions. This will cause your pet to gain weight and that will cause health issues.
  • Invest in a camera so you are able to watch your pet remotely. You will be more able to assess whether or not they are anxious or acting bored.
  • Hire a dog walker or cat feeder to break up your pet’s day.
  • Have a friend, neighbour, or family member pop in to visit your pet.

For parrot owners, there are lots of boredom buster toys available. I would encourage you to change these toys often to ensure stimulation. Your parrot might need a few days to become use to a new toy so don’t leave them with a brand new toy, this might frighten them.

Alternative ideas

Still unsure whether you should leave the TV or radio on for your pet? Here are a few alternative ideas:

  • Take your dog for a long morning walk. Yes, this might mean getting up a little earlier but not only will you feel good, but it will help your dog to rest when you leave and can help to relieve anxiety.
  • Offer your pet a warm and safe place to rest when you’re not there.
  • If you’re worried about boredom then leave safe toys for your pet.
  • You can set up a few interactive toys to keep your pet busy and mentally stimulated.
  • Timed feeders can be used to relieve boredom. Set the feeders up with a few treats or split your pet’s breakfast into two portions, one portion as their regular breakfast and the second portion in the timed feeder set a few hours later. Don’t feed extra portions. This will cause your pet to gain weight and that will cause health issues.
  • Invest in a camera so you are able to watch your pet remotely. You will be more able to assess whether or not they are anxious or acting bored.
  • Hire a dog walker or cat feeder to break up your pet’s day.
  • Have a friend, neighbour, or family member pop in to visit your pet.

For parrot owners, there are lots of boredom buster toys available. I would encourage you to change these toys often to ensure stimulation. Your parrot might need a few days to become use to a new toy so don’t leave them with a brand new toy, this might frighten them.

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