A bored dog, like a bored child, is likely to get into mischief that will stress you out. A dog trying to entertain herself can eat the wrong thing and get sick, try something that results in injury, break your precious belongings and stress out herself and her family.
Luckily dogs sleep a lot more than humans (15-17 hours a day vs. our 7-9 hours) but when they are awake, it’s best to have them on a schedule that includes entertainment (aka: physical, intellectual and emotional enrichment).
Whether you are back to working outside the house (or never stopped) or are spending your days in Zoom meetings, you don’t have time to play with your dog all day (as much as you may prefer that activity to working!).
The good news is that there are plenty of great (and easy) ways to keep your dog from getting bored when he has to be on his own.
Here are 5 perfect ways to keep your dog from getting bored:
Have a few so you can rotate them to keep your dog’s mind stimulated. Some types of food puzzles you can try are Kongs, snuffle mats, toys the dog has to roll around to get the pieces of kibble to fall out and toys she has to figure out how to move a lever or press a button to get the treat. There are tons of commercial puzzle toys on the market and many DIY options as well. If your dog isn’t super food motivated, skip the meal just before they need to have alone time so they will be hungry enough to use the puzzle/lick the Kong.
For this, rather than put kibble or treats into a food toy or puzzle, scatter it around the yard or a room in your house (you can even hide some of it to make it more of a challenge). Your dog can then sniff around seeking out the yummy morsels of food just like her ancestors did in the wild.
Depending on your situation there are a couple of ways to do this. If your dog can be outside unsupervised for a bit or you can work outside, create a special area in your yard where your dog can dig and roll. You can create a sand pit or buy a manufactured one they make for children. If your dog’s not a big digger like mine, create an outdoor play space geared towards his play preferences.
You can also make an indoor play space for rainy days or if you don’t have appropriate yard space. Block off a room or area of a room with a baby gate and put some of your dog’s favorite toys (or new toys he hasn’t seen before) and a bed in case he wants to take a snooze. Make sure there isn’t anything in this space that your dog shouldn’t touch so that he can’t get into mischief!
BEAT THE HEAT:
For days where it’s too hot to do much of anything, make your pup a fun doggy archaeology dig by freezing some chicken stock (or water) with some kibble, treats, a ball or anything your dog enjoys embedded in it. Your dog will have fun licking, biting and scratching all her important finds out of the block. Use a cake pan to freeze it all in.
If your dog is a big chewer, a bone, antler or other chew toy is a great way to keep her occupied and clean her teeth at the same time. Make sure your dog is used to having whatever item you choose as bones and similar items can be a choking hazard in inexperienced paws.
Check out my blog post on Keeping Your Dog Happy for more ideas and links to popular treat puzzles.
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