Leaving your dog home alone is never easy, and especially as we head in and out of local lockdowns, many of our furry friends have head their routines completely broken due to our shifting work patterns which has left them feeling confused and anxious. Anxious dogs tend to behave in ways we might not really like, such as howling, chewing, going to the toilet indoors or just generally causing mischief. It's also upsetting for us as owners to know that our dogs are unhappy, so we've rounded up some of our top tips for keeping your four-legged friend happy when you can't be home to keep them company.
It is important to remember that puppies and adult dogs can all handle different amounts of time alone. The Blue Cross recommends that although it’s good to get young puppies used to being on their own, they shouldn’t be left for long periods in their first year. All dogs are different, but the general advice is no more than two hours for puppies, and an absolute maximum of six hours for older dogs. Of course, it all depends on how active your pet is, how much exercise they need, and how they feel about being alone. If your work hours or daily plans mean you will be away for longer than this, we highly recommend looking into a dog sitter or walker that could check in on your dog and spend some quality time with them so they aren't alone longer than they should be. Now, onto the ways to keep those puppies entertained!
Image via Kong Company
Feeding toys are a really great option for keeping dogs of all ages busy by mentally and physically challenging them in return for a food reward. We recommend the solid rubber, hollow toys, such as Kong, as they are super durable, even against the most ferocious chewers. Fill the toy up with some of your dogs favourite food such as peanut butter (make sure it's the 100% natural kind with no sugar or sweeteners), wet food, dry food, or even a mixture of all the things they love! If you know your dog doesn't find these toys particularly difficult, you can even freeze it in order to provide an extra challenge and in turn, a longer period of entertainment. We recommend keeping the treats inside high-reward so your dog doesn't get bored of them, just make sure you're keeping an eye on the amount of fat and calories your dog is getting and consider cutting some of their normal meals out if they're getting a lot of treats throughout the day.
If you're looking for more of an investment, there are a number of pet cameras on the market that can help you not only check up on your pet but also interact with them from afar. One of the most popular pet gadgets available right now the Furbo dog camera. It has some incredible extra features that are especially helpful for pups who are prone to boredom. Not only can you see and talk to your dog which is great for when you catch them chewing on something they shouldn’t be, but you can use the Furbo app to dispense treats on demand! We think this could be incredibly comforting for both dog and owner, especially for dogs who have a particularly hard time being left alone. Being able to monitor your dogs behaviour as well as comfort them with your voice is an excellent way to help keep anxiety at bay.
Image via Pinterest
Dog puzzle toys are another excellent option for keeping your canine companion distracted when you are away. They help to give your dogs mind something to focus on and are a particularly good solution if your dog is food motivated. There are plenty of different types, all of which challenge your pup to use their eyes, nose and paws to work out where the treats are hidden. Similar to a puzzle toy, a snuffle rug challenges dogs to use their nose to find the treats. There are many different kinds on offer, from the smaller scrunchy versions, to the bigger activity mats, which have lots of different pockets, strips and flaps of fabric for you to hide treats. Just remember, particularly destructive dogs will probably work their way through these toys very quickly!
Lots of people swear by a bit of background noise to help calm anxiety in dogs. Sometimes, just leaving the TV on to provide some familiar sounds will do the trick, but you can also try a dog calming playlist on Spotify. It’s a good idea to play this occasionally when you’re in the house, so your dog doesn’t just associate it with being home alone. The radio is also a great option, Hiro loves listening to Classic FM to help him unwind.
We hope these tips will help you and your pup find some much needed peace of mind when being apart. Do you have any top tips for keeping your dog entertained whilst you're away from home? Share them with us in the comments below!