Keeping Your Dog Entertained When You’re Not Home
Have you ever wondered what dogs do when we’re not home?
For some of us who return home to chewed shoes, shredded cushions, and general chaos, we don’t have to wonder. You might even hear from a neighbor that our dog has been barking or howling in our absence.
Leaving our beloved pets alone at times is unavoidable, but since we are their whole world, it’s not surprising that our dogs will get bored when they’re alone.
If your dog shows exceptional distress or destructive behavior when you leave, they might be suffering from separation anxiety. If that’s the case, you could try using a calming supplement for dogs to help soothe your pet while you’re gone.
However, for many dogs, it’s simply a case of boredom (and the occasional tantrum that you’ve gone out!). Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your dog entertained when you’re not home.
1. Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable
Dogs often sleep when we go out, and providing a comfortable spot will encourage this. If you’re crate-training your dog or puppy, make sure the crate is well-padded and comfortable. Whether you keep your dog in a particular room or let them have the run of the house, it’s good to have a specific spot where your dog can sleep and feel properly safe. If there are certain areas of your house you want your dog to stay out of, close the doors or install dog gates.
To prevent restlessness, it’s a good idea to take your dog for a long walk before you go out, if you can. Getting sufficient exercise makes it more likely your dog will nap later, and reduces the chances of “accidents”.
Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water. However, bored dogs can have a habit of tipping their water bowls and causing a small flood. To prevent this, try using a weighted dog bowl.
For anxious dogs, try leaving an old item of clothing for them to cuddle up with. The item will smell like you, and it can help soothe your pet and make them feel safe.
2. Leave Toys for Your Dog
Leaving toys for your dog to play with is especially important for younger, more energetic dogs. Mental and physical stimulation is essential to prevent boredom. Bored dogs tend to get destructive. If you’re not there to keep your dog entertained, leaving a toy is a good way to keep them busy.
Your dog likely has a favorite toy that can entertain them while you’re not home. Rotate the toys, as your dog’s favorite will likely suffer more wear and tear than the rest!
However, not all toys are suitable for a dog to play with unsupervised. Certain rope toys as well as rubber and fabric toys could be easily destroyed and your dog could swallow or eat small pieces. It’s a good idea to check that a toy is safe before leaving your dog alone with it. Hard bones and antler bones need to be taken away from your dog if they get too small or if they break.
3. Leave Treats
Food is always the absolute best way of distracting your dog. If they get distressed or clingy when you prepare to go out, a tasty treat can calm them down and keep them busy while you leave.
If your dog has a habit of wolfing down their food in a matter of seconds, try making it a little harder for them. You can use rubber Kong toys, which can be filled with treats or food for your dog to chew. If you pack the Kong well, it can take your dog some time to work out all the treats, keeping them busy. The rubber is durable, and you can buy various sizes to suit your dog. You can also play games, leaving some treats hidden around your dog’s area for them to find.
Of course, leaving a large handful of treats every time you go out might not be particularly good for your dog. There are healthier options, or you could use some of your dog’s regular dry food in a Kong, sealed in with a modest spoonful of peanut butter.
4. Give Your Dog a Room with a View
Many dogs like to look out of the window and watch the world go by. If this is something your dog enjoys doing, why not give them access to a window, and provide a comfortable spot for them to sit or lie down? Keeping an eye on the premises can help soothe nervy dogs, and this means they can also watch hopefully for your return!
This might not be a suitable activity for all dogs. You certainly don’t want them to spend all their time barking at passers-by!
5. Dog TV
For dogs that are part of a large family, noise can be the norm. This means that when you go out, your dog might be unsettled by the quiet environment and lack of stimulation. This can lead to anxiety in your dog, and subsequent separation anxiety.
Leaving the TV or radio playing can help relax your dog. Specific TV programs such as DOGTV might entertain and stimulate your dog. It’s a good idea to play some of these programs while you’re in the house too, to see how your dog reacts and get them used to it.
Remember, dogs are just like people – each one is different. What entertains one dog might not work for another. Try different ideas and see what works for both you and your dog. You know your pet best, after all!
While leaving your dog alone sometimes is unavoidable, it’s best not to leave them for extended periods of time. Younger dogs and puppies especially shouldn’t be left for too long.
When you are at home, try and spend quality time with your dog. Playing with your dog, walking, and training them is all part of the bonding experience. While our beloved dogs might be just one part of lives, we are our dog’s whole world.