1) Provide them with a Hallow toy with delicious ingredients stuffed inside or another one of the many food dispensing toys that are available. Dogs by nature are scavengers so have them work for their food rather than eat it out of a food bowl. A hallow/food dispensing toy provides them with mental work which can help keep them busy when you can't be there. This is a good enrichment option for dogs that need to be crated but may not be suitable for multi pet households for varying reasons. In addition to using these toys as a way to deliver your dog(s) their meals they can also be filled with treats. 4-Legged Friends Pet Services all time favorite is the Kong. If you have a dog that excels at chewing and dismantling of toys we recommend the Extreme Kong. Be creative when stuffing your kongs. A favorite for my dogs is a frozen peanut butter, pumpkin, banana mixture stuffed in a kong. Better yet freeze the stuffed kong for a longer lasting treat. Other food dispensing toys that 4-Legged Friends recommends is the Kong Wobble, Kong Stuff a Ball, Buster Food Cube, and the Nina Ottosson Interactive Dog Toy.
2) Scavenger Hunt: Scatter hidden treats around your home or pet's living area for your pooch to find while you are not home. In the beginning make the hides very easy and than greadually work up to making the hides more difficult. If your dog has access to stairs hide treats upstairs to incorporate a little more exercise into this enrichment option. A word of caution be mindful where you do hide treats so that your valuables are not inadvertently destroyed in the excitement of the search. Also, may not be suitable for some multi-pet households.
3) Puzzle toys can be a ton of fun for your dog(s) and really gets their brains working. 4-Legged Friends highly recommends the Nina Ottosson puzzles. For my own dogs they need puzzles that are more durable as they get really excited about their puzzles so I always opt for the wooden Nina Ottosson puzzles. Trixie makes a few puzzle options as well; Trixie Mad Scientist Dog Toy, Trixie Chess Game or Trixie Move-2-Win Dog Toy. Some of 4-Legged Friends favorite puzzles are Nina Ottosens's Dog Spinny, Dog Tornado, and Dog Brick. I would recommend starting with an easy one and than introducing more difficult ones so that your dog doesn't give up on playing the game.
4) Give them something to chew on. Be sure it is not something that they can't chew pieces off of or choke on. If your dog is a crazy chewer like mine this activity may be left best to times when you can supervise them. 4-Legged Friends Pet Services recommends always monitor your dog chewing on a particular object prior to leaving them alone with it.
5) Hire a professional pet sitter for a dog walking or playtime visit. This is a great option for families that have to leave their canine companions home alone especially for an extended period of time during the day. It can help alleviate the boredom of being home alone and provide enough exercise so that they are in need of a nap after their afternoon fun-filled visit. It can be very beneficial for young dogs that have a lot of energy. If you are in Hagerstown, Maryland call 4-Legged Friends Pet Services to learn more about the different options that we offer.
6) Get your dog a furry companion. This may be a good option for a select few homes. It is important that the human family members truly want another canine companion as this option can possibly have as many challenges as it does benefits. Adding another canine companion into your home is a commitment and requires more time, work and monetary funds. If all goes well another furry companion can provide your existing dog with company while you are not home and they can also help tire each other out. On the downside another canine companion can mean "double trouble" or a duo that may not be very compatible for each other.
7) Provide them with new toys or toys they only can have when your away and rotate the toys to keep them interesting.
8) Make a busy bucket for your dog. This is a fun and creative approach to keeping your canine companion busy while alone. There are no rules to making a busy bucket for your dog. One approach would be to have treats at the bottom, favorite toys & hand towels, layer it and pack tightly to keep your dog busy and entertained. This would be a great option for some households but may not be suitable for multiple pet households or for dogs that are likely or have a history of ingesting inedible objects.
9)Leave the Radio or TV on for your canine companion. This enrichment option can prove very beneficial for dog(s) that live in close quarters to other families and can easily be implemented into multiple pet households without any challenges or risks. 4-Legged Friends recommends checking out Through a Dog's Ear, a compilation of music that has been clinically proven to relax dogs. Nowadays, there are many TV options for dogs including channels that are completely devoted to them. 4-Legged Friends Pet Services recommends experimenting with TV shows but refraining from shows that give your dog(s) the opportunity to practice unwanted or concerning behaviors such as but not limited to chasing, barking, or reactive behavior.
10)Prior to leaving exercise them in some way. A game of fetch, a brisk 20 minute walk, a game of tug, or some other game that gets their heart rate up can help with your hounds excess energy or can keep them tired and resting till the pet sitter or you arrive home.
There are many ways to help keep your pup entertained & out of trouble when home alone and/or alleviate some of your pet parent guilt. By trial and error figure out that your canine companion loves to do that can be safely implemented into your household.