Many dogs can get anxious or bored when left home alone. And dogs that are anxious or stressed often burn off that anxiety in destructive ways. The good news is that there are many easy ways that you can provide entertainment and stimulation for your dog while you’re at work for the day.
From treats to toys to interaction with other pets, there are a number of different ways you can head off boredom for your dog. Read on for ideas that you can use today to keep your dog happy and entertained while you’re away.
Recognising Separation Anxiety
If you’ve never left your dog alone before, you might be wondering how to ease into separating for a full day without creating a lot of anxiety for your dog. If you’ve adopted a shelter dog, the dog may likely exhibit one or more signs of separation anxiety since the dog may experience constant stress about being abandoned.
Puppies and young dogs can also develop separation anxiety even if they’ve never been left alone before. So it’s important to ease them into the experience and offer lots of positive reinforcement along the way.
Signs that your dog might be experiencing separation anxiety include:
- Excessive grooming
- Trying to escape
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Refusing to eat
- Panting or drooling
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, you may want to take extra care with how and when you leave your dog. Easing into the experience of leaving for a full workday can help your dog stay calm and happy, and help your pup trust that you’ll return.
Ways to Mitigate Separation Anxiety Before You Leave
There are several ways that you can help reduce separation anxiety for your dog and ease into leaving for a full workday.
If your dog seems anxious every time you leave the house, begin by leaving for short periods of time before being gone all day. This can help reinforce that when you leave the house, your dog knows that you’ll come back. Your dog will be reassured that you will not be gone forever.
Short and sweet goodbyes are also recommended for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. Spending a long time with a goodbye ritual reinforces for your dog that they should be nervous and that your leaving is a big deal. On the other hand, a quick pet and then heading out the door sends the message that your departure is a normal, non-emotionally charged event.
Ideally, your dog should think of its crate as a safe and secure place. As den animals, dogs have evolved to seek out enclosed areas where they can relax and self soothe. If you can crate train your dog, the dog can use the crate as a spot to feel safe when you leave the house.
You don’t even have to close the crate for this type of training to be effective. Training your dog to “load up” in their crate when you depart provides a ritual for them, and they can still explore your home, play with toys, and drink water throughout the day.
If a crate makes your dog anxious, then it’s recommended that you avoid this technique. Never force your dog into a crate. Crates are only to be used when the dog feels happy and secure inside their crate.
Early Morning Walks
Walking your dog before you leave for the day provides a necessary release of tension for your dog and can head off any anxiety they might experience during the day. In addition, a long walk provides an opportunity for exercise, stimulation, and exploration, which can be anxiety-reducing.
Ideas for Keeping Your Dog Entertained
To help keep your dog entertained and happy while you’re away, there are a number of different techniques you can use—including some low cost or free items you probably already have around the house.
There are many different types of toys that can help keep your dog entertained and engaged while you’re away from home. These toys provide a way to keep your dog busy until you return.
Providing a toy for your dog to chew on gives them something to do and reduces the likelihood that your dog will chew on other items, such as shoes or furniture. Chewing is a way to reduce boredom and relieve anxiety, and is also a way for your dog to explore their environment.
This top-rated chew toy is specifically designed for aggressive chewers. If your dog has a high need to chew, this is a great toy. It’s designed to last for weeks even with the most dedicated chewers, and is flavored with real bacon. It comes in 5 sizes (tiny, small, medium, large, and giant) and is shaped in a way that makes it easy for your dog to pick up and chew.
This is another durable, long-lasting option if your dog loves to chew. It’s made of non-toxic rubber, flavored with maple and bacon, and also provides significant teeth cleaning for your dog. It comes in various sizes for tiny to giant dogs and comes with a customer satisfaction guarantee.
Interactive toys are a great way to keep your dog occupied while you’re away. There are many high-tech and low-tech options for you to choose from.
Many interactive toys use emotionally driven systems to gain and keep your dog’s attention, for example, chasing, teasing, or avoiding behaviour. Many of these toys are also programmable depending on your environment and your dog’s preferences.
Automatic toys can help eliminate boredom and can be used to develop your dog’s agility as well. Many move and roll to keep your dog entertained.
This sturdy, versatile, interactive toy uses two strong suction cups so dogs can stay entertained pulling and chewing while you’re away. It has teeth cleaning features and can also be filled with your dog’s favourite treats. It has a built-in whistle and squeaker, which adds interest to the toy.
This toy is designed for large breed dogs and is made of thermoplastic rubber. The interactive nature of this toy helps with your dog’s agility and will keep dogs entertained for hours.
This unique toy is designed to improve your dog’s IQ and mental ability. This toy helps with your dog’s learning while reinforcing their natural hunting instincts. This puzzle uses sequential steps to challenge your dog while keeping them entertained.
It’s also designed as a slow feeder, allowing your dog to play with the puzzle while getting reinforcement through treats.
There are many different kinds of treats to help keep your dog occupied and busy while you’re at work. From treat toys, to ice treats, to calming chews, you are likely to find a treat that your dog loves and that keeps them distracted and happy.
These treats are great for dogs who are nervous or anxious about you leaving the house. Using a blend of chamomile, valerian root, passionflower, and hemp extracts, these treats are a safe, natural way to quell anxiety. They’re appropriate for a variety of dog breeds and sizes and are free of soy, corn, dairy, hormones, sugar and GMOs.
Paired with a treat releasing toy, these calming chews can be a great way to keep your dog happy and occupied.
Another great way to keep your dog busy while you’re at work is to freeze broth, wet dog food, yogurt, or peanut butter for your dog in an ice cube tray. This is a great way to keep your dog happy and occupied while the treat melts. This is also a great option for keeping your dog cool when it’s hot out.
This classic dog toy can be filled with your dog’s favourite treats or kibble to help keep them happy and occupied. It comes in a variety of sizes, from extra small to extra large, and even offers different options for materials, depending on your dog’s age and desire to chew: puppy rubber, senior rubber, classic rubber, and extreme rubber.
Dogs love these toys, as they offer favorite treats along with satisfying your dog’s desire to chew and explore.
- Read Next: How to use Kongs and stuffable dog toys (plus 15 scrumptious recipes)
- Best Stuffable Kongs & Toys for Dogs 2021
Hiding Food or Treats
Even if you don’t have treat toys or puzzle toys for your dog, you can also hide treats around the house as a fun game to keep your dog occupied. This game stimulates your dog’s senses and gives them a sense of purpose. Hiding treats when you leave the house can help create a positive association for your dog when you leave.
You can also hide your dog’s favourite toys around the house to create a fun scavenger hunt that keeps your dog occupied while you’re away.
Another great low-cost game you can play with your dog is lining up empty cardboard boxes and hiding treats in several of them. Your dog will have fun using their sense of smell to hunt down the treats and will likely stay occupied with this interactive game. You can set this up before you leave the house, so your dog will stay entertained while you’re gone.
Treat Dispenser Game
To create a treat dispenser just using items you have around the house, place a few treats inside an empty toilet paper roll, fold in the ends, and seal with a bit of peanut butter. Your dog will have fun trying to access the treats with this stimulating and easy treat dispenser.
Provide a Window View
Leaving your blinds open and placing your dog’s bed near a window creates the opportunity for them to stay entertained watching the neighbourhood while you’re gone. Watching squirrels, birds, people, or other dogs can be an engaging pasttime.
That being said, if your dog is high strung or has a strong prey drive, watching other dogs pass by might be stressful. Observe how your dog does while watching out the window while you’re home and use that as your cue to determine whether this is a good strategy to use while you’re at work.
DogTV is a channel designed specifically for dogs. It offers programming to help keep them calm and entertained throughout the day when you’re at work. Unlike other programs that might catch your dog’s attention, the programming provided via DogTV has been guided by canine experts, including trainer Victoria Stillwell.
- Specific colours and frequencies designed for dogs
- A recalibrated video feed to suit dog’s visual capabilities
- Timing rhythms used to keep your dog alternately calmed and stimulated
- Well-timed exposure to potentially triggering sounds such as a vacuum cleaner, to help your dog adjust and acclimate to a variety of household noises
Adopt a Friend
If your dog is lonely during the day, you might consider adopting another dog to keep them company. Solo dogs may not get as much of a chance to socialise, leaving them lonely and isolated. As a result, they can get bored more easily than dogs who have a playmate and may become destructive.
If you’re thinking about adopting another dog, consider your current pup’s size, temperament, and energy level to be sure that you can match these with your new pet. Having two dogs can mean days of playtime, socialisation, and exercise, and less stress and boredom.
Employ a Dog Walker
If you’re not able to come home during a lunch break or don’t have a yard for your dog to play, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker to stop by during the week while you’re working. Then, you’ll know that your dog is receiving affection and stimulation during the day and is getting some needed exercise.
There are now a number of different apps you can use to connect with those in your area who would love to create a lasting bond with your pup. You can use these apps to read reviews and check references, so you know your dog will be safe, happy, and entertained during the day.
Many dog boarding facilities also offer doggy daycare services as well for when you’re working long days and want to be sure your dog is getting playtime with other dogs and lots of attention.
The benefit of bringing your dog to a daycare that also offers to board is that if you do need to leave town and board your dog, your dog will already be familiar with the location, staff, and other dogs. They may even be excited to reconnect with their playmates when you drop them off.
There are several pet cameras on the market, each with various functionalities. The Furbo Dog Camera is unique in that it allows you to toss treats to your dog, speak to your dog, and even alerts you when your dog is barking. It’s been approved by 5,000 vets and professional dog trainers, and is highly rated by users.
It can also help ensure your dog’s safety during the day. It’s saved the lives of over 1000 dogs by allerting owners to fires or emergencies.
As a dog owner, you likely take your dog’s well-being very seriously. And part of taking good care of your pup means being sure that they are happy and entertained while you’re away from home.
Depending on your dog’s personality, temperament, and age, you can employ a variety of different methods to keep your dog content during your workday. By providing a variety of stimulating toys and activities, you can stave off boredom and anxiety and come home each day to a happy and well-adjusted dog.19 Easy Ideas to Keep Your Dog Entertained Whilst You Are at Work Click To Tweet