Last week, we celebrated an especially fun “holiday,” National Puppy Day with a list of adoptable puppies from our donation partners. Whether you’ve recently adopted a new puppy or are thinking about bringing a new addition home, we thought it would be fun to celebrate even more because everyday should be national puppy day with a post on ten things that will occupy your puppy while you’re at work. Because no matter how much time you’re able to devote to your new pal, you’ll likely have to at least leave them alone from time-to-time. Toys for puppies and other activities geared towards puppies are plentiful, and we’ve tracked down some good options for keeping those little critters occupied in your time away. We know it’s easy to feel worried or guilty about living your little guy or girl at home alone, but with a little research and imagination, there are ways to keep even their time alone fun and stimulating.
- Create a safe space. Pick one area in the house where you think your dog will feel safest and most comfortable while you’re away. It could be a corner in the living room or a separate room, closed off from the rest of the house. Make sure they know that this is their designated area by inviting your new dog to sniff around. Give him treats so he can associate positive feelings with it, and leave some of his toys and his favorite blanket around. If you’ve decided to crate your pup while you’re away, this is the perfect space to put it. Make it cozy and attractive so that they’ll want to take ownership of it and feel safe there.
- Pick a super awesome bed. Whether it’s going in the crate or pin or just sectioned off in a certain area of the house, be sure to provide your pup with an awesome bed they can spend some serious time snoozing in. A majority of the time you are working, your dog is probably asleep. On average, dogs can sleep between 14 to 18 hours a day. For this reason, you should provide your dog with the most comfortable, cushiony bed while you’re away. If you notice that your dog is a sprawler, try and get a bed that is slightly larger so it can fit his entire body. If your dog likes to rest his head on something, find a doughnut bed. If your dog likes his sleeping area super soft, get him a cushiony pillow bed. You have your preferred sleeping style, and so does your pup! See what fits their snoozing style and purchase accordingly.
- Provide your dog with fresh water throughout the day. H20 isn’t just vastly important for humans, it’s also essential for animals. Not only should there always be a steady flow of water for them at all times, but it should also always be clean and fresh. Consider purchasing a self-filling pet water bowl so you don’t have to worry about your pup going thirsty while you’re gone. Of course, in the training stages you also have to worry about accidents, so do your research and know your pup before setting up their water station.
- Try out treat-dispensing toys. While you’re away, one of the greatest gifts you can give your pup is an interactive toy to play with that will engage their mind and get them working for an awesome reward. Many dogs are food motivated, and treat-dispensing toys are in high-demand for people who spend time away from home. This is a fantastic way to distract your canine while you’re gone! While some owners opt to scatter kibble across their house, you can also purchase a handy food-dispensing toy that will keep your house tidier and will also last longer for dogs who are quick foragers. Find a fun toy you can hide food in, like the Buster Food Cube. These kinds of toys will keep your furry friends engaged and challenged. In addition, most food-dispensing toys give you the option to adjust the degree of difficulty so that it can keep things exciting for your dog. There are so many good options out there, so do your research and try out a few with your pup. You’ll figure out the best fit for them in no time.
- Leave them with indestructible toys that will keep them busy for hours. Some pets have a harder time being left alone than others and all animals have a range of separation anxiety that they experience. Your dog’s ability to chew through a toy or bone will also vary, as some pups are more gentle than others. Either way, leaving them with ample chew toys or bones will help ensure that they chew on something other than your sofa! You can discourage this bad behavior by providing them with strong and safe chew toys that also won’t end up being a choking hazard. Giving them indestructible chew toys, like the Monkey Fist Bar Rope Dog Toy, will provide hours of entertainment while keeping your dog’s gums and teeth healthy. Bonus points!
- Another great option? Puzzle toys. Sturdy bones and treat-dispensing toys are old-school winners, but they aren’t the only game in town. On the rise in popularity are puzzle toys, offering another way to keep your dog entertained during the day. These brain-teasing toys keep your dog stimulated, especially if he is left alone for multiple hours of the day. Keeping your dog sharp can extend his life by fighting canine cognitive dysfunction. Brain teasers give dogs the opportunity to problem solve and use some of the functions that they don’t ordinarily use in their brains. Check out a few here.
- Play them some tunes. Studies have shown that classical music can calm and soothe a dog’s nerves, so consider providing your canine with a soundtrack while you’re away by creating a Spotify playlist of relaxing classical symphonies, or consider getting “Through a Dog’s Ear,” a CD set of psycho-acoustically designed piano music that has been tested in dog shelters, clinics and homes.
- Leave the TV on. Some people just leave it on a random channel, but if you think your dog could use a little visual stimulation, there is a channel just for him. DirectTV teamed up with DogTV, a channel that provides 24/7 programming aimed at stimulating, entertaining, relaxing and habituating dogs with shows that are filled with different sounds, objects and movements, all seen from a dog’s point of view. Hey, it couldn’t hurt!
- Stuff a toy with all-natural DOGSBUTTER. This is a classic dog-stimulating choice for a reason! Most dogs love the smell and taste of peanut butter and can take hours finding every last dollop in a Kong® in puppy size or similar hollow toy. To provide an extra challenge, freeze the toys after stuffing them overnight before you hand them over in the morning.
- Consider hiring a dog walker. It is cheaper and easier than ever to secure a reliable dog walker, and for some dogs it’s an essential and important way to offer them a little mid-day relief, especially if you’re going to be gone for long stretches of time. A dog walker not only provides them with an extra pee break, but yields them all-important human interaction, gives them a break from their crate or small space (if you’re using such) and gets them a little extra exercise (which is great for their health, both physically and mentally). It will also tire them out and make the time waiting for you to get home breeze by. Dog walkers vary in their services, with some providing brisk, 30-minute walks for those dogs that don’t need a whole lot of exercise, and others offering hour-long hikes for those canines bursting with energy. The most important thing to remember is to find a reliable, trustworthy walker that both you and your dog get along with. Consider checking out DogVacay, Rover and Wag to connect with walkers in your area.
Did you know that DOG for DOG now has puppy food? Have a full grown pup? Check out our list of 14 ways to keep your dog busy while at work. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ideas for keeping your pup entertained while you’re away from home. In the comments below, share your own tips and tricks for new puppies faced with temporary indepen-dance.