Our dogs can’t always come with us, sadly, and we’ve all got to leave the house sometimes. So what does your dog get up to when you leave her at home alone? Counter surfing? Couch surfing? Singing the blues? While some dogs may be content to snooze away the day, many dogs will need some extra stimulation to keep them happy during your absence. We’ve got some great suggestions for tactics and toys to keep dogs busy while you’re away.
Distractions for a lonely dog
1. Create a special dog zone for your pet with a few safe toys, treats, and comforting items. A baby gate can help section off a portion of the house if you don’t use a crate or can’t spare an entire room just for your dog.
2. Chews are a good bet. Just be careful not to give your dog anything that will splinter or that’s small enough for them to choke on. The classic Nylabone is a good option with plenty of dog-friendly flavours. We hear it promotes healthy teeth, too.
3. Splurge on extra-cosy dog beds. The comfier, the more enticing it will be for daytime rest. You can also move or add beds for the novelty factor. Cave beds are great for diggers, while orthopaedic options are ideal for older pets.
4. Leave the radio or TV on when you go out. Change the stations around, too! This can help distract your dog from focusing on noises outside the house.
5. Shut the blinds on the busy side of your house and leave them open on the quiet side for some wildlife viewing.
7. A pet cam can be helpful and fun. The Petcube is a fun splurge that provides a lot of entertainment mileage for both of you; be warned that it gets addictive! It lets you watch and communicate with your dog from afar with pet camera, laser pointer toy, and 2-way audio. Whaaaat.
The best toys to keep dogs busy
Pro tip: rotate toys in and out to keep things fresh and interesting.
KONG toys are a classic choice.
You fill the hollow toy with peanut butter and dog treats, and for a challenge, put it in the freezer. It will take more time to remove the goodies that way, which is great if your dog needs stimulation for an extended period! You can also make or even purchase pre-made KONG stuffings in lots of flavours—yum.
An interactive toy like the shuffle bone dog puzzle is definitely going to keep them busy.
This takes a little training for some pups, but it’s a lot of fun once they get it down. Hide dog food under the sliders for a quick game of “Where’s the Scooby snack?” For more toys like this, see the great Swedish puzzle toy line by Nina Ottosson.
This treat-dispensing sphere will keep your dog entertained for longer than you’d think. The similar Bob-A-Lot gets a thumbs-up from our larger dogs.
Lastly, DIY enthusiasts, you can build your own puzzle toy if you’re feeling handy. Toys to keep dogs busy usually involve some kind of hide-and-seek factor, so get creative! Think empty milk jugs, a mat with lots of felt pieces, or a muffin tin filled with treats and covered in tennis balls to block easy access to the snacks.
A tired dog is a good dog
Exercise your dog before you leave for the day with a vigorous walk or a game of fetch. This sets your dog up for a nice long snooze. Did we mention walks? They’re key! Get some help if your schedule makes it tough.
Mental exercise can wear your dog out, too. Frequent training sessions can help calm the canine mind—and strengthen your bond.
These resources are a wonderful starting place for preparing your dog for alone time.
- How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?
- How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?
- How to Prepare Your Dog Emotionally Before You Travel Without Them
- 10 Best Puzzle Toys that Actually Help Bored Dogs
- 21 Simple Tricks to Make Your Dog Happier, Smarter, and Less Bored Every Day
- Bored Dogs: How to Recognise Doggy Boredom (and Help!)
- 7 Chew Toys for Puppies That’ll Save Your Shoes