Even though most workers are still working from home during the pandemic, that wasn’t and won’t always be the case. Even still, if you’re working from home with your beloved dog by your side, you’ll need to keep them entertained while you’re working, or else you’ll spend the whole day distracted.
Leaving your dog at home while you go to work is never fun, especially if they’re a loving, active pup. Seeing as few bosses will accept the excuse of, “But my dog is alone and sad!” as a reason to take the day off, you’ll need to help them adjust to life alone at home during the day.
While some dogs may feel fine and be contented to simple sleep all day, many others will need an extra boost to stay happy while you’re gone. A lonely and bored dog will find a way to occupy his time, whether that is by being destructive (that’s when the couch cushions get destroyed) or harmful to himself.
Like you, we want to prevent that from happening, so here are a few ways that you can keep your dog entertained while you’re at work.
10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Entertained When They’re Home Alone
1: Interactive Toys
Interactive toys require your dog to use a bit more brainpower than simply chewing on a bone or playing with a squeaky toy. You can search on Amazon for “interactive dog puzzles” and find quite a few options. However, you’ll want to ensure that there are no small parts which your dog might chew off and swallow.
The idea of these interactive toys is that you’re offering them a toy with hidden treats in it that they have to work to find. This not only helps stimulate their brain while you’re away (which prevents boredom and subsequent destruction), but it’s also just a great way for them to engage in a mentally stimulating activity. After all, being home alone all day can get pretty boring, even for a dog.
We’ve suggested some great options for interactive toys in our article about What to Put in a Puppy Crate. Do check that out for more ideas.
2: Stuffed Toys
If your dog isn’t a fan of dog puzzles and interactive toys, try resorting to the traditional method of providing a stuffed toy. For this, you’ll want to look at buying a Kong. They make varying sizes of Kongs for different sized dogs, meaning that you can find one to suit your pup’s needs.
We suggest filling the Kong with dog-safe foods such as peanut butter, cheese, and their treats. Then, freeze the Kong overnight. Before you leave for work, leave it out for them to gnaw on throughout the day.
It’s a win-win because they’ll be cleaning their teeth as they chew, but they’ll also be so obsessed with getting the food out of the Kong that they won’t have time to be bored or destructive.
3: Create a Window Seat
Dogs don’t necessarily need to be playing to feel stimulated and contented. Your dog, especially if it’s older, actually might benefit more from just being able to see the real world outside.
If your windows are high up or not positioned in a place in the home where your dog can look out easily, you may want to create a window seat for them. Or you can carve out some space near the front door where they can comfortably sit and lie down while watching people and other animals pass by outside.
4: Build a Dog Balcony
Depending on how comfortable you feel with letting your dog outside while you’re at work, you might also consider building a dog balcony. If you have an apartment with an existing balcony, you will need to install a doggy door to allow them to easily walk in and out as they please.
However, if your balcony is higher up, make sure that you’ve also installed a light mesh fence around the railing to prevent your dog from squeezing in between the bars and falling out. In fact, even if it isn’t very high up, it’s also advisable to take precaution.
5: Leave the TV On
This trick is an oldie but a goodie! If your dog is fine at home but is used to the sound of people, simply leave the TV or some music on for them while you’re gone. You can pre-record your voice if you think it will comfort them (for anxious dogs, however, this might make things worse).
Music, in general, can also help calm your dog if he tends to be a little anxious or tense. Find the right calming music while you’re home together so that you know whether or not it’ll be effective.
6: Adopt Another Pet
If you find that your dog is feeling extremely lonely while you’re at work and that it’s affecting their mental or physical health, you might consider adopting another pet as a companion. This doesn’t have to be another dog, however, as some pups actually quite enjoy the company of cats, too.
Keep in mind that adopting a second pet is a big responsibility and that you should never do so just to keep your current dog company; it should be a well-thought-out decision based on other factors, too.
If you’re going to adopt another pet, make sure that they get along well with your dog so that they’ll actually have a good friend to keep them company while you’re away. The last thing you want is to have two pets at home who hate each other and make each other’s lives miserable.
7: Leave Them with an Ice Block
If you tried the Kong trick and it didn’t work, you might take to leaving your dog with a larger ice block to work their way through. This is actually a pretty fun at-home activity to engage in if you have kids who want to help.
You’ll fill a large bowl or plastic tub with water and your dog’s favorite treats. Similar to what you’d do with the Kong, you’d leave it in the freezer for the evening and take it out in the morning. However, unlike the Kong, you wouldn’t leave it with them on the floor. We suggest purchasing a small kiddie pool or something similar and placing it there so that it doesn’t cause a mess when it melts.
8: Take Your Dog to Doggy Daycare
When nothing else seems to work, it might be time to take your dog to doggy daycare where they can socialize with other dogs. This is actually a great option if they’re a larger or more active breed that requires a lot more exercise throughout the day.
Plus, the biggest perk of leaving them at doggy daycare is that they can socialize and make friends. For social dogs, this is huge; for non-social dogs, it’s still pretty important as it teaches them how to play nicely with others and how to share and behave.
9: Hire a Dog Walker
Anxious, active pups might do well with a walk or two during the day. And, with so many apps that exist nowadays to help you find the right dog walker, it’s not a hard task to tackle. Rover and Wag! are two of the most popular dog-walking apps in 2021. You just have to do a google search to locate them. Alternatively, you can also ask around to see what others in your local area use.
You can find the right dog walker, check their credentials (this is very important!), and schedule times for walks on the days that suit you. It’s an easy way to get your dog out of the house, and you won’t have to worry about safety.
10: Use a Pet Monitor
Just as parents use baby monitors to keep tabs on their little ones, you can also install a pet monitor to check up on your dog during the day. Most have cameras now that will allow you (and sometimes even your dog) to chat via video.
If they’re bored or you see that they’re destructive, you can hop on the video and talk to them as a distraction. They’ll likely calm down and redirect their attention, even after the call. Your dog will also be happy to hear your voice even when you’re not home.
Ensuring that your dog is entertained and busy during the day will bring great benefits for both of you. And, as an added benefit, incorporating mental stimulation into your dog’s daily routine is a great way for dogs with arthritis and other medical conditions to express their energy in a way that isn’t physical.
With so many great tips listed above, you’ll definitely be able to find one or two that’ll keep your dog entertained while you’re busy at work. That way you’ll feel at ease knowing that you’ll not have to worry about your furry friend or be concerned that you’ll return home to a destroyed apartment!