Leaving our furry friends behind while we head off to work can be a challenging experience at first. Most devoted pet parents would happily spend the whole day with their pups if they could—and many pets and pet owners will also have gotten used to doing just that over the pandemic years. But now that stay-at-home orders have relaxed and the world has settled into a new normal, dog parents may need to take some extra steps to keep their dogs entertained and content while they’re not around.
Dogs are social creatures that thrive on attention and stimulation, and the last thing any dog owner wants is to imagine their poor pooch simply sitting at home, bored and lonely during a long work day. In this article, PrideBites offers seven effective ways to help your dog while away the time until you come home.
Lay Their Favorite Toys Out
One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to keep your dog occupied is to ensure that they have access to all their favorite toys. If you leave out a wide selection of toys, such as chew toys, plush toys, tennis balls, and many more, your furry companion will have a range of options to entertain themselves with. If you’re looking to spoil your pooch, you can even put together a personalized pet toy basket full of toys designed especially for them.
Create a Comfortable Corner for Them
Just like us, dogs crave a cozy and secure space that they can retreat to when they need some downtime. Designate a specific corner or area in your home where your dog can feel safe and comfortable, even when they’re home alone. Putting together a safe space is especially important for dogs that struggle with separation anxiety.
Your dog’s safe space can be a secure crate, a comfy corner of your home or backyard, or even a dedicated room if you have one. However big or small the space might be, be sure to provide a soft blanket or bed for them to relax on. Dogs also recognize and remember how their owners smell, so leaving out some clothes you’ve worn may also help calm and comfort an especially anxious pup.
Tire Them Out Early in the Day
If you’re already in the habit of starting your days early, make it a priority to engage your dog in physical exercise. A tired dog is a content dog, as physical activity helps reduce restlessness and anxiety. Take your pup for a brisk walk or jog, or play an energetic game of fetch in the morning. This early exercise session will mentally stimulate your dog and help burn off excess energy, making them more inclined to rest in your absence.
Leave the TV or Some Music On
Believe it or not, dogs enjoy many of the same forms of entertainment humans do. Leaving the TV on or playing some soothing music on your speakers can be calming for certain dogs, as the auditory stimulation helps alleviate separation anxiety and provides a comforting presence. Classical music, for example, has been known to reduce stress and promote relaxation in shelter dogs.
If your pup is the kind to enjoy watching TV with you, you can also subscribe to streaming services or online video channels developed especially for dogs. However, be mindful of the volume and ensure it's not too loud to avoid causing any distress to your dog or to your neighbors.
Invest in Interactive Toys
Interactive toys are a fantastic way to keep your dog mentally engaged and entertained while they’re on their own. These toys often require problem-solving and offer rewards for your dog to enjoy, such as treats or hidden compartments. Puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys are excellent choices for honing your dog's cognitive abilities and entertaining them as they wait for you to come home.
Take Them to a Doggy Daycare
If your budget permits, consider enrolling your dog in a reputable doggy daycare. Doggy daycares provide a supervised and stimulating environment for socialization, playtime, and exercise. They offer opportunities for your dog to interact with other dogs and receive attention from experienced caregivers. A day at the daycare can serve as a delightful adventure for your furry friend and ensure they stay mentally and physically active while you're at work.
Hire a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
Lastly, if you need to be away from your dog for a more extended period, hiring a pet sitter or dog walker is the practical thing to do. A professional sitter can visit your home and provide companionship, take your dog for walks, and play games with them. Many will also be willing to handle essential tasks related to your dog’s care upon request, such as feeding, brushing, and bathing. Regular interaction with a familiar and caring individual during the day will help quell your dog’s loneliness and boredom and keep them happy and healthy.
Leaving your dog alone while you're at work doesn't mean they have to be bored or unhappy. Try any of these seven suggestions to keep your pooch mentally stimulated, physically active, and content until the happy moment you come home to them.