Unless you work from home or are a stay-at-home pet parent, many of us need to leave our pups at home while we go out to earn a living. This time alone can make dogs feel lonely and bored, and some might even use up all their extra energy by chewing everything in sight. This is not only frustrating for you, but also for your dog!
Responsible dog owners know that it’s unfair to leave pets cooped up at home with nothing to do all day. There are ways to amuse and stimulate your dog while you’re away, however, so that by the time you come home they will have released some of that excess energy. Here are 10 ways you can keep your pup entertained while you’re out at work.
1. Consume their energy before you leave for work
Possibly one of the easiest solutions, taking your dog out for a good walk before you leave in the morning is a great way to ensure they exert some of that energy they’ll carry into the day. One of the most common reasons for dogs misbehaving when left alone is that they’ve not had the chance to expel any of their energy. Give your dog plenty of exercise before leaving him home alone, and he’s less likely to engage in destructive behaviour. The amount of exercise will very much depend on your dog – their breed, fitness level, age, and the weather outside – but even a short walk will give them a chance to get some physical exercise and mental stimulation.
2. Give your dog a problem to solve
Some of us won’t have the chance to tire our dogs out before we head out to work in the morning. If this is the case for you, there are still plenty of toys that have been designed and manufactured to help improve a dog’s cognition and encourage their problem solving skills. These kinds of toys are a great way to ensure your dog gets some of his own exercise when left alone, rather than sitting around wondering what to do.
Look for hard rubber toys that have space to stuff something tasty inside. Whether you choose to fill them with peanut butter or a mix of dog food, once frozen these toys will keep your dog busy for hours as they try to access the snack inside. We always recommend doing a trial run of this activity while you’re still at home before leaving any dogs alone with these kinds of toys. Try Kong for some durable and safe toys as well as lots of tasty recipes!
3. Give your dog an interesting view
Provide your dog with a comfortable place to sit and watch what’s going on in the great outdoors, so that he can still be stimulated. You’ll best know how your dog responds to outside activity, so if they’re a big barker it may be a good idea to confine their voyeuristic activity to the backyard!
4. Set up a scavenger hunt
Hiding stuffed food puzzles, small treats, or piles of kibble in areas where your dog tends to hang out during the day will give them plenty to do while you’re out. Hide the treats just before you leave the house to improve the chances of your pup associating your leaving with a positive emotion.
5. Give their jaws exercise
Always make sure that your dog has plenty of their own toys to play with, including a dental chew. This will prevent them from chewing your furniture and personal items, while also helping to keep their teeth clean and freshening their breath!
6. Keep their toys interesting
While dogs should always have their own toys on hand, just like children they can soon get pretty bored with the selection. Make sure you keep the toys on rotation to avoid boredom, and introduce a new toy every once in awhile to keep their interest piqued. Always check that new toys are safe, and try to choose ones that aren’t easily destroyed.
7. Hire a dog walker
You can either use a reputable dog walking service, or ask a friendly neighbour or relative if they’d like the chance to go for a daily walk with your pet pooch. You might even know someone who already walks their dog every day, perhaps they wouldn’t mind taking your pup along for the trip. If you can’t pay for a dog walking service, then perhaps you can trade a skill or favour, such as mowing the lawn or cooking dinner.
8. Get another canine companion
Most dogs do better when they have a little company. By making the decision to adopt or rescue another dog, you’ll not only be saving a life but also teaching your dog to socialise with other canines, while bringing a daily doggy companion into the bargain. Of course, this suggestion isn’t for everyone, but it is one that works well to stop your dog from being bored while you’re away.
9. Arrange doggy play dates
If taking on responsibility for another dog isn’t possible for you, perhaps a friend is in a similar situation with a bored pooch. It could be a good idea for them to bring their dog over to stay and hang out with yours for the day! You could take it in turns to host each other’s dog – a kind of doggy sleepover or play date! This idea is best left for those who you know well and trust, and whose dog your pet knows well too. Always ensure that the dogs enjoy each other’s company, and that they play well together, so it may be a good idea to test the waters before just leaving the two dogs alone together!
10. Send them to doggy daycare
If all else fails and you have the money for it, consider sending your dog to a doggy day care facility while you’re working. This works best if your dog is well-socialised and enjoys being in the company of other pups. Always check out the facility for yourself first, and get recommendations from friends if possible before you leave your pet there.