If you’ve ever had a dog destroy your couch, bed or half your kitchen out of boredom, then you know how important it is to keep your pup occupied while you’re at work. As much as we want to spend time with our four-legged friends, sometimes we just need to be away for longer than we’d like. And in those cases, more than ever, these 10 ways to keep our dogs busy during the day may just be the most help to you and your pupper. Try one of them, or mix them up.
A lot can be said about the harm of TVs, smartphones and computers when using them to “raise” a child. However, when it comes to dogs, there isn’t much harm in trying if your dog likes watching TV.
Not all dogs are interested in the moving pictures on the screen, but some are easily fascinated by them. If your pooch is among the latter, the TV could serve as a nice babysitter while you’re at work. Still, this doesn’t mean that you should rely solely on the TV, as it can only distract a dog for so long.
2. Good Vantage Point
Regardless of their breed, many dogs prefer to have a good view to the outside world. The more outdoorsy your pooch is, the more interested he will be in having a nice vantage point to observe the streets, trees, parks, and buildings outside of your window.
However, just a small, uncomfortable window to look through can get boring for the dog pretty fast, but if you provide several different good spots, that'll keep your pupper entertained for hours. Just remember to teach your dog not to bark too, as some may enjoy voicing their opinion about what they see on the other side.
3. (Customized) Puzzle Toys
Puzzle or interactive dog toys are of great importance when it comes to keeping your dog active and happy. Mental stimulation is as crucial as physical activity for most dogs to keep them healthy, particularly since while “solving” puzzles, dogs tend to jump around non-stop.
A puzzle toy can be anything, even something as simple as a hollow rubber toy that’s filled with pet treats that your dog needs to squeeze out of the toy’s small hole.
4. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a favorite game for many dogs. You can hide either toys or treats in random places around the house and leave your Fido to search for them while you’re at work. Scavenger hunts are among the more popular doggy games they enjoy.
Each day you can change up the hiding places so the dog doesn’t know where the hidden treasures are – just where they might be. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that the more precious things in your home like TV, computers, etc., are well-placed and stable.
5. Food Puzzles
Similar to puzzle toys, food puzzles can be a great mental stimulation for your canine. They are usually designed to force your pet to eat more slowly, but don’t take as much time as puzzle toys may take. Still, a good and complex food puzzle will require a bit of time for your pooch to figure out.
6. Second Pet
It sounds counter-intuitive to some people, but getting a second pet usually makes things easier for you in the long run. By doing this you guarantee that your current dog will always have someone to play with and will never get bored. You can be away for work as long as you need to be, and the two pals at home will have each other, they'll play, tire out and go to rest instead of becoming destructive.
The downside, of course, is not just the extra expense on pet care, but in the fact that you’ll have to properly train both dogs. They will have to know how to behave at home, how to play in a non-destructive manner, as well as how to get along with no fighting. As a result, this can be challenging solution for newer dog owners, but if you have the patience to raise and train a second dog, the long-term effect can be worthwhile.
7. Iced Treats and Toys
Another kind of “toy puzzle” you can make, particularly if you're on a budget, is to simply get your dog’s favorite treat or toy, put it in a cup of water, freeze it overnight in the freezer, and then give it to your pet as you’re leaving for work. The ice will take quite some time to melt, and in his enthusiasm, the dog will spend some effort licking it, playing with it, tossing it around, etc.
And when the ice is finally melted and consumed by your pooch, the dog will be extra excited to play with the toy inside or eat the frozen treat. Either way, such ice toys/treats can be a great game or exercise for your canine while he’s home alone.
8. Indestructible Chew Toys
Yet another thing you can buy for your pooch, strong chew toys are a type of chewing toy that dogs can spend a lot more time on. A good and durable chew toy that's designed for strong chewers can give your Fido hours of entertainment while you’re away, especially if your dog is passionate about using his jaw muscles.
If you’re not willing to commit to a second pet yet, you might want to consider arranging play dates. If you find a fellow dog owner in the dog park or online, you can set up a schedule where they are taking care of your pet while you’re at work (and the two dogs can play with each other) and vice versa.
10. Pet Sitter, Dog Walker, or Puppy Daycare
To make sure that your pet has company while you’re away from home, you can also hire a dog walker or a pet sitter. If you’re not comfortable with letting strangers into your home, you can also take your dog to doggy daycare if the dog feels fine at such places. This is the last option since it's also the most expensive for a pet owner.
Alternatively, you may sometimes ask a relative, friend or neighbor to look after your pup while you’re away. Most people can’t manage making this a long-term solution, so save this option as a bonus for special situations.
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