Many dog owners have to leave their precious pups behind at home when they go to work every day. But how can you keep dog entertained while at work?
It’s a sad fact of life, and many may worry about what their pup gets up to when they are home alone.
Do they get lonely? Upset? Bored?
The thought of lovely pets being sad because their owners have had to leave them at home is a distressing thought indeed.
Worse still, quite a few dog owners may be accustomed to coming home to find a mess in their wake. A bored dog may act out when home alone, and it can be very stressful to have to clean up a mess after an already long day at the office.
But did you know that it’s perfectly possible for a dog to manage to be home alone, and even enjoy being left to their devices sometimes?
What can you do to ensure your dog feels fine and happy, even when you are not there to watch them? Here’s our guide on how to keep your dog entertained while you are at work.
Why Dogs Act Out When Alone
There are plenty of reasons that a dog might act out when they are left alone. Let’s run through some of the most common ones.
A dog who has nothing to do will likely try to find a way to make their own fun. If that way involves chewing through some furniture or demolishing a couple of shoes, then that’s the way it has to be for them.
In order to keep these things from happening you could buy them some toys or rawhide chews to keep them busy. Sometimes out of boredom they might even try to chew on stones since they like to chew a lot.
Especially common in puppies, many dogs want to investigate the space around them and learn more about it.
If they don’t have anything else to pay attention to, they may choose to explore the world around them – and often, this exploration will involve tasting and therefore chewing new things, and messing up organized piles to find hidden treasures.
Though not as commonly done for the reason when they are home alone, a lot of dogs learn that biting, chewing, and exhibiting destructive tendencies get them attention. Even negative attention suffices for a pup who really wants some!
If you are leaving your pup home alone, they may experience separation anxiety.
Feeling confined to space might lead them to bite or claw at objects in an effort to escape. Many dogs also relieve their nervous feelings by chewing – and anything in the house is fair game to an anxious dog.
For dogs around half a year to a year old, they may begin to feel like they need to learn to be responsible. Upon being left alone at home, they may want to attempt to fend for themselves and go digging for food, toys, and other items to help with their needs.
If your dog has seen you keep their favourite foods or treats around the house, or seen you dump waste food in the trash, they might attempt to find these yummy snacks and have a feast. We all know dogs are very food-driven, after all.
A dog may want to practice chewing, exercise their jaw muscles, or simply chew to keep their dental hygiene up.
If you haven’t been accommodating these needs and instincts, they may turn to random objects around the house to get their practice in instead. Young puppies might also be teething at this point and may need to chew in order to relieve pain.
Dogs can develop obsessive behaviours, whether in the form of chewing disorders or similar. If you suspect your dog is behaving obsessively and that this is why they act out when you are not home, speak to a vet.
How To Keep Dog Entertained While At Work
Now that you know why dogs do what they do, you can work to accommodate so they are kept happy and non-destructive while you are at work.
Most of the time, simply making sure they have enough items to keep them entertained is more than enough to do the job. Here are some ways you can keep your pup entertained while you are away from home.
Lots Of Toys
A wide variety of toys to choose from can help to keep a dog occupied. The more interactive the better, as they may create puzzles or challenges that your pup can solve.
If your pup enjoys solving puzzles, this is a great way to keep them entertained. Make sure to use toys that are safe and will not easily break off or pose a choking hazard.
Before you leave, grab some treats and stash them in different locations around areas of the house that your pup has access to. Looking for these yummy snacks will help keep your pup’s attention on finding and playing with things that are meant for them, not on innocent furniture.
You can use anything from kibble to vegetables your dog loves. Just be sure to clean out these spots later so you don’t get any ants coming around!
Turn The TV Or Radio On
The background noise – ideally a mix of visuals, voices, and music – will have your pup eagerly listening and considering the different sounds they can hear. Television and radio stations offer a good amount of show variety so that something will pique their interest often.
The background noise can also be relaxing for them and help to relieve the anxiety they might feel from being left alone. If you like, you can leave some music playing that your pup enjoys or that you know soothes them.
Switch Up Toys
Even if you are providing your pup with plenty of toys, the same thing every day will get boring.
Mix them up and regularly rotate the toys you are giving to your dog to play with while you are gone so they have a new selection to choose from every day and don’t lose interest.
This will also help keep all toys fresh and exciting for longer.
Opt For Fill Toys
Kongs are fantastic toys to leave home when you are leaving your pup alone. They can literally keep any dog occupied for hours.
Fill the Kong with peanut butter or something else that your pup loves. You can also opt for other similar fill toys, or even for chew toys – just make sure they are not going to pose a choking hazard.
Let Your Dog Look Out
For a simple way to make this work, leave a window or two open – not wide enough to let your dog sneak through, though – or install some holes to peek through in the fence.
If these aren’t options, just leaving the curtains open so your dog can stare out is good, too. You can even build a makeshift lookout point with old furniture and boxes that will allow your dog to peek over the fence without climbing over.
Make Ice Treats
Grab a medium-sized container – an ice-cream one will do fine – and place some of your dog’s favourite snacks in it. Then, fill it with water and allow it to freeze.
Make sure to check in as it is freezing to ensure the snacks are well-spaced. Once solid, leave it for your pup to enjoy. They will spend ages trying to lick through it! Be sure you are prepared to deal with wet floors, though.
Set Up A Play Date
If you have friends or neighbours who also need to leave their dogs behind when they go to work, you can opt for a solution for the both of you: have the dogs spend the day together! Make sure both pups get along well first before leaving them unsupervised.
This allows the pups to work through their energy as they play with each other. Weekly play dates can be fantastic for keeping a dog entertained and social, even while you are at work.
Take In A New Furry Friend
Yes, this is a huge step, but if you are already considering bringing a new pet into the family, then why not? Having a pal to hang out with will definitely keep your pup entertained. Of course, you shouldn’t just adopt a pet for the sake of your first dog’s companionship.
It’s a big decision to make, but both pets will be occupied when you leave them at home and will be much more well-behaved.
Do note that when you first introduce a new pet into the house, you should not be leaving your dog and the newcomer alone for prolonged periods of time without supervision.
Opt For Doggy Day Care
If you have the funds to spare or are genuinely concerned about leaving your dog home alone while you are at work, you can send them to a daycare centre when you need to go to work.
This will allow them to socialize and make new pup friends, and they will have a lot of fun while you are gone.
It also ensures that your dog will be safe while you are away and that all their needs will be met. Make sure to opt for a daycare centre that you can trust.
Before You Leave Home…
Some of the best ways to prevent acting out from your pup when you leave start before you even set foot out of the house.
Many dogs wake up with a lot of pent-up energy that needs to be released, and if you don’t give them an outlet for it, chances are they will choose to take it out on the furniture.
Here’s the bottom line – if your pup is already antsy, restless, or nervous before you have left for work, chances are there’s nothing you can provide them with that will keep them calm and entertained when you leave.
It’s important to ensure that your pup has worked off as much energy as possible before you let them stay home alone.
Younger dogs especially will need more exercise to work off the excess energy that they have, but even older dogs can benefit from some morning activity that will prevent them from being too restless once they are alone.
Doing something as simple as bringing your dog with you when you go on your daily walk or run can work wonders in this respect.
Not the morning exercise type? Maybe it’s time to become one! Take a 30-60-minute walk as your schedule allows, or play a few games of fetch in your yard or even at a dog park if there’s the time for that.
You will find that leaving a tired dog at home by themselves results in much less trouble than one who is all wound up and ready to go.
Spending this time with your dog also means that they get more of your attention and affection, so they don’t feel as upset when you are not around to give that to them.
Morning exercise is an excellent bonding experience for the two of you and can help your pup feel calmer and more relaxed when they have to be alone.