Your dog is your best friend, so leaving them home alone, even if it’s just for an hour or so, can be hard. Nobody wants their dog to be bored, so here’s 10 of the best ways to keep your dog happy, healthy and entertained while you’re out of the home.
1. Give them a window seat
Dogs love a good view. Even those pooches that aren’t quite tenacious guard dogs like to see what’s going on out in the world. Even better if that view is elevated!
Find a window in your house that offers up an interesting view of the street or backyard. Leave the curtains open so your pooch has a good view throughout the day. Set it up with their favourite blanket or bed so they’re encouraged to spend time there. You’ll be surprised how much time a dog can spend just watching the world go by, waiting for you to get home for walks.
2. Hide food games around the house
Many dogs enjoy sniffing down food and treats, so before leaving for work, scatter some treats in special places around the house. Try to mix it up a bit so it doesn’t become a routine, and your pooch will spend their day sniffing out delicious delectables.
You can make this game of food hide and seek even more fun by hiding the treats in puzzle games for your pet solve. That way, they not only have to use their sense of smell to find the treat, but exercise their brain in figuring out how to release the treat from the puzzle.
3. Make an ice cube filled with treats
On hot summer days, a fun activity can be to fill a bowl with water and dog treats the night before, then leave it out for your dog during the day. As the ice melts, treats will be revealed, creating a fun patience game for your pet. Your dog can also speed things along by licking the ice, keeping them cool and hydrated on a hot day.
4. Tune in to Dog TV
If you can’t find a good perch, window spot or lookout for your dog, then the television is another way to keep them entertained. Youtube for Dogs is a good starting point. Just keep in mind that not all dogs are interested in television.
5. Keep their mind engaged with puzzles
Dog puzzle games usually involve a treat hidden within a contraption that your dog has to manipulate if they want to eat the treat. The KONG chew toy is a very popular option, with a range of durabilities depending on the tenacity and strength of your dog, and there are many others at your local pet store.
6. Adopt a new family member
Many dogs are more comfortable with a partner in crime. Adopting a second pup is a big responsibility, but the right sibling for your furbaby can mean a lifelong friendship. When looking at a second dog you’ll want to:
- Get a second dog with similar age and / or energy levels as your current pooch
- Look for a dog that is well suited to your family and your current pooch
- Take the time to introduce them to the family and train them before leaving them home alone with your other dog.
Most pet adoption agencies will let you bring your current dog to the kennel to see how they bond before committing to adopting your second pet. If adopting a new dog has been on your mind, maybe now is the time to start looking for that next member of the family.
7. Take turns with your neighbours
If you work part time or split shifts, then sharing playdate responsibilities with neighbourhood dogs is a great way to keep your pup socialised and exercised. Everyone takes a turn minding a few dogs during the day. Activities can include:
- Taking them for walks
- Playing games
- Supervising interactions
- Making sure they are fed and hydrated if needed
Taking turns looking after your neighbours dogs works wonderfully if it’s an option. Your dog gets to socialise, and everyone gets a chance to have a pack of fun loving puppies in the house one day a week.
8. Hire a dog walker
Hiring dog walkers is becoming an increasingly popular trend, particularly among urban dwellers. With our busy schedules keeping us at work more often, dog walkers ensure our pups get the exercise they need throughout the day, leaving plenty of quality time for you and your pet when you get home. For more information on how to hire the best dog walker for your pooch, see our article on Hiring the right dog walker for you.
9. Make peepholes in the back fence
If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard that backs onto something interesting like the bush or a street, then you’ve got the perfect days entertainment for your dog. All you need to do is drill a few peepholes (and muzzle holes) into the fence so your pooch can see out.
10. Keep a steady set of toys on rotation
Two things most experienced dog owners know:
- Every dog has their favourite toys
- These toys generally don’t last long
Dogs can be pretty rough with their favourite chew toys, so it pays to rotate which toys are available throughout the week. This not only extends the life of the toys but keeps your dog stimulated with new and fun activities.
An active dog is a happy dog
Keeping your dog stimulated while you’re away is vital to their mental wellbeing and good health. While it won’t replace a good old fashioned walk in the park, experimenting with these games and exercises can make it that much easier to wave goodbye to your pooch when you head off to work.