Most modern pet parents lead very busy lives with jobs and children, and our dogs often end up spending a good portion of the day home alone. A lonely, bored dog will find a way to occupy her time that can be destructive to your furniture and clothes and potentially harmful to herself. If you give you dog “jobs” to do when she’s by herself, she’s much less likely to raid the trash or chew on your favorite pair of heels. Here’s a list of 14 ways to keep your dog busy while you’re at work!
1. Let your dog watch television.
Turn on your TV to the Animal Planet™ station and up the volume. The sights and sounds of barking dogs and mewing cats helps to stimulate your dog’s brain in a quiet house, keeping her from finding ways to get in trouble.
2. Provide ways your dog can look through a window or door.
Open the curtains or blinds to a back window in your home so that your pooch can watch whatever is going on outside your back door. If you have a small dog or a toy breed, set a cushion or chair by the window so that your pup is comfortably able to see out.
3. Fill a hollow toy with peanut butter
Stuff the toy with your all natural DOGSBUTTER. Most dogs love the smell and taste of peanut butter and can take hours finding every last dollop in a Kong®. To provide an extra challenge, freeze the toys after stuffing them. Some examples of food puzzle toys you can find at your local pet store or on-line include the Kong® Toy, the Buster® Cube, the Tricky Treat™ Ball, the Tug-a-Jug™, the Twist ‘n Treat™, the Atomic Treat Ball™ and the TreatStik®.
4. Scavenger Hunt
Make your dog hunt for her meals by hiding stuffed food puzzle toys or small piles of her kibble around your house.
Scatter a couple of handfuls of kibble in the areas where your dog hangs out during the day and she’ll have fun hunting her treats while you’re at work. You can also hide one of her meals or puzzle toy right before you leave home so that she learns to associate your leaving for the day with a positive – as opposed to a negative – emotion.
5. Calm your dog!
If your dog becomes nervous, anxious, or overactive when you’re not at home, you can try these ideas:
-Apply a combination of calming essential oils (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, wild orange, and frankincense – whichever smells best to you) on your pet’s bedding.
-Add Sleepytime Tonic, an all-natural herbal tonic to your dog’s breakfast meal and she’ll calm down after about 20 minutes. Keeping your dog relaxed while you’re gone may help alleviate any barking issues that disturb the neighbors.
-Use a dog pheromone.
If you sense that being alone causes anxiety in your dog, try using a dog-appeasing pheromone collar, spray, or diffuser. The pheromone released by these products is similar to one that a lactating mother would emit to calm her newborn puppies. This pheromone will be familiar to your pup and create a sense of relaxation. You can place the diffuser in a room that is usually occupied by your dog, apply the spray to a dog bed, or have your dog wear the collar.
6. Give your dog a puzzle
There are loads of interactive dog toys on the market that will keep your dog occupied for hours. The one’s we like best are from Nina Ottosson.
7. Get your dog a furry brother or sister.
Adopting or rescuing another dog as a companion to your furry friend helps both animals. You give your existing animal someone to socialize with during the day and you save a life. This is entirely a personal choice on your part, but you need to ensure that any new animal coming into your home is healthy, has been vaccinated and vetted, and gets along with your dog. Reputable rescues will often allow you to foster first, and then adopt the dog of your choice to make sure the animal fits well with your family.
8. Give your dog a block of ice to play with.
Place your dog’s treats or some suitable food in an ice-cream container, fill with water, and freeze. Alternatively freeze a toy like a knotted rope in some water. As the ice melts, toys and treats become available for your dog.
9. Schedule a Puppy Playdate!
Schedule playdates with the pets of a trusted neighbor or family member. Allow a pet parent you trust – and who owns a dog that your pet knows well – to come over and have a playdate with your pup. Make sure that both animals enjoy each other’s company and play well together before trying this activity. Leave your veterinarian’s name and phone number with the other pet parent just in case of an emergency.
10. Enroll you pooch in doggy daycare.
If your dog is well-socialized and enjoys the company of other pets, send her off to doggy daycare while you’re working. Reputable pet care facilities employ staff trained in ways to keep your pup safe and active. Find one in your area that fits your schedule and schedule a tour and an interview with management and staff. Make sure you get references and recommendations from pet owners that use the facility before you leave your precious companion for the day.
11. Employ a dog walker to exercise your pet daily.
Many reputable pet care facilities include a dog walking service. They send a bonded, experienced person to your home to walk your pooch on regularly scheduled visits. For those pet parents whose workdays run long, a dog walker may be the only way your pooch can get some much needed exercise.
12. Purchase dental chews
Giving your dog plenty of her own toys and dental chewies will help prevent her from gnawing on your things. Additionally, dental chews help to keep her teeth clean and freshen her breath.
13. Introduce a new toy.
A new toy can add some excitement during the day while your dog is home alone. A tough chew toy that can’t be torn apart while you’re gone is best, just in case your dog likes to gobble things up. Also rotate her toys…after a day or two, put one toy away so it’s out of sight and mind, and bring out another to replace it. This will keep all of your pet’s toys fresh and exciting.
14. Add a fountain.
Making sure your dog has enough water for the day while no one is home is very important, and a dog fountain can provide a constant supply of clean fresh water while also piquing your dog’s interest. Many dogs love water and the running water of a fountain can create a diversion for your dog. Be sure to have the regular bowl of water out just in case your dog does not take to the fountain while you’re away.