How to Entertain a Dog Home Alone
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In an ideal world, we would be able to spend all day with our dogs. Even if we still had to go to work, being able to pat our furry pals during boring meetings would make often stressful days that much easier. Unfortunately, we all need to survive somehow and that means for the most of us, we need to go to work. This doesn't mean we can't have a pet. Some dogs need more attention than others, but many can be happy enough to spend time on their own.
This doesn't mean the only time dogs should be engaged is when we are present. They need to have an enriched environment and adequate stimuli so that when we do come home to see them, they are happy and healthy to start with. AnimalWised brings you information on how to entertain a dog home alone so that they can be their best self and reduce the possibility of developing psychological or even physical stress.
1. Don't let them feel locked up
If we have to spend all day inside, we know how feelings of confinement can be stressful. Even if we sleep in too long and then open the curtains, there is a physical response to feeling the light shine in. It uplifts us and we feel more positive knowing there is room to breathe. The same goes for dogs left home alone. We can't let them feel as if they are trapped otherwise they can feel caged or as if they are being mistreated in some way. This is perhaps especially so for dogs who are more in touch with their wild ancestry and some breeds can handle staying inside better than others.
If you do leave your dog at home for any significant period of time, it is important to keep curtains open and allow natural light inside. There may be some areas you won't want your dog to enter, especially if you have expensive or precious items. Otherwise, you should open up the doors and allow them as much liberty to roam as possible. You may not be able to let them out for security reasons, but this doesn't mean you should keep them confined.
2. Ask someone you trust to visit
Dogs are social animals. They want to be given attention and they love interaction with both their human friends as well as other animals. If your dog is home alone, it would be great if one of your family members has the ability to stop by and at the very least say hello. If this isn't possible, if you live alone or everyone is too busy, then you can ask someone who is available to do it for you.
If you have the money, then there are services who are able to do this for you. Trusted dog walking services can be used, but some animal shelters even offer this option, so it is worth checking out. Your dog not only gets to have company, but the shelter gets more resources for animal care.
However, there are also many people who spend time on their own and would love to have the company. Maybe you have an older retired relative or somebody who works freelance. Someone who has time and would enjoy the health promoting properties of spending a while with your dog can greatly benefit from it. Humans are also social animals and there is no reason keeping your dog entertained while home along can't be mutually beneficial.
3. Change their toys
Like people, dogs can get bored when they have too much of the same thing. While they may have one toy or object they enjoy more than others, this doesn't mean they don't want variety. Changing their toys can be a way to encourage variety and to ensure they don't lose their curiosity. Don't leave out all of their toys and games at the same time. Take out some different toys and put the rest away, then change which ones you leave out regularly. This kind of rotation means they won't get so bored and may even look forward to particular games.
4. Use intelligence games
Intelligence games for dogs are great, but not only for entertaining them. It also helps to build their cognitive ability and to give them a level of engagement which they crave. It is not the same as spending time with other people or animals, but it is often a helpful mimic of this type of stimulation. Intelligence games come in different guises with differing levels of elaboration.
One of the most simple, yet effective intelligence games for dogs is the kong toy. It secretes a treat inside so that the dog has to work to get it out. This provides stimulation and also reward without you having to be there. Some dogs may be better at it than others, but you can have more if needed.
5. Leave the radio or television on
Feelings of loneliness can often increase with silence. Also, when they have this level of silence, even small noises can drive them to distraction as they are heightened by the silence. This may make them anxious, especially when you aren't there to help them calm down.
This is why leaving the radio or television on can be useful. It creates a background distraction which makes it feel like they aren't alone. It doesn't mean they will necessarily be glued to the TV, but it can help relax them. However, this won't be the case if you leave the wrong channel or station on. Perhaps the 24 hour death metal channel isn't going to be the most relaxing day for them. Depending on your TV package, there are even some specialized dog TV channels designed for this very purpose.
6. Stimulate their nose
Visual and tactile stimulation is a great way to keep a dog home along entertained. However, if you limit their senses, then you reduce their enjoyment. One of the best ways to keep a dog entertained while you are out of the house is to stimulate their sense of smell. You can do this in conjunction with your own form of bespoke intelligence game. Take some treats and place them in places around the home while they are not present. Your dog can smell them and will use their hunting instinct to search them out. This can keep them engaged as well as stimulating cognitive function.
Just a note, however. Don't leave them out in places they will have to rip or break into, unless you are fine with a little destruction of property.
All of the above ways to keep a dog entertained while home alone exist in part to stop a dog from suffering separation anxiety. This is when they are so upset at being away from you, they become stressed. We have more information on separation anxiety in dogs if you might find it helpful.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Entertain a Dog Home Alone, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.