Are you back working from home, or want to make sure your dog is fulfilled every day when they are not on walks? You may need to listen to a work meeting without distraction, but don’t want your best friend to be bored!
Dogs are intelligent, busy creatures and need mental stimulation, especially when young. Keeping your dog entertained is more fun for you and for them. Much better than just buying toys and hoping for the best. We all know the toy box is left gathering dust whilst your dog raids worktops and the leftover Christmas chocolate (very bad idea!).
What does my dog enjoy?
Firstly, decide what your dog actively enjoys. Do they sniff and hunt a great deal, or are they into dog treats, or just like listening to you for great social interaction? If you can provide things that cater to these needs, your dog will be more settled naturally.
Boredom really means that there is nothing rewarding around. You don’t need to constantly work to keep your dog entertained, but they need to have an outlet to burn off excess energy. Providing chew toys, a dog puzzle with treats inside, interactive dog toys are great. Some of them can even be ‘smart’ toys that turn on and off to vary the frequency of play. All will help. A simple game is to take a muffin tin, place a small piece of dog treat in each section. Then place tennis balls over the top. Your dog can use their nose or bring their paws in play to knock the balls aside to earn their reward.
Does my dog need to be busy all the time?
Introduce rest and relaxation as part of your fun indoor activities. All dogs, especially puppies, sleep a great deal, so make sure that you aren’t experiencing puppy boredom by giving them activities and then routine ‘sleep times’.
What activities might my dog enjoy?
Activity ideas include simple games such as hide and seek, or finding tennis balls, or basic obedience training. If you really can’t spare the time, employ a dog walker so that your dog can be out having a great time whilst you sit at your desk.
Fetch and tug of war can sometimes lead to problems with obsession and injury. From crazy leaping around for a tennis ball, or pulling hard on items as a ‘win’ game. Basic obedience comes from your dog learning that it is fun to interact with you. It enriches their quality of life immensely. So start teaching sit, down, come, heel… yes, easy and useful too.
How about some basic nose work, where you scatter tiny pieces of their food around the garden for them to seek out? Repeat this with your dog a few times rather than giving them their dinner in a boring bowl.
Even though you may be at home, you will need regular breaks. As long as your dog is fit and well, you should provide at least two walks outdoors a day. Healthy dogs also keep their owners active. A good sniffy walk helps everyone’s quality of life.
How do I keep my dog happy when alone?
Be cautious not to develop a dependency between yourself and your dog. It might be that when you finally leave the house the dog has nothing to keep them entertained. Create a big list of all the activities your dog can enjoy without you needing to interact with them. Food puzzle toys, interactive dog toys, the frequency of play with you and without you. These are all important guides for what your dog will need when you are not there
What can I buy that will help my dog stay busy?
Here’s some examples of interactive dog toys. Click the images for more info.
– Karen Wild