How to keep your dog busy while at work

How to keep your dog busy while at work - Dog distracting owner working at home

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You may hate it when your job and life become predictable. For some, monotony saps the spirit and wears you down to nothing. But dogs are different: they thrive on routine.

Dogs require both physical and mental stimulation on a regular basis. Bored dogs will chew things, bark unceasingly, and generally find ways to be destructive or make themselves a nuisance.

So, what’s the secret to keeping your dog busy while you’re at work? We’ll give you tips on how to tire Fido out, comfort Rover while you’re away, and keep Snoopy active and happy until the whistle blows.

Start the day with high activity

Repeat after me: "a tired dog is a good dog."

Unless you have a Great Dane, greyhound, or one of the other couch potato breeds, you may need to put in some work tiring your dog out before you leave for the office.

If you have the time and the inclination, a brisk morning jog may help exhaust your pup. If you aren’t the jogging type, a few dedicated minutes of high-energy play (fetch, hide-and-seek, tug-of-war) will do in a pinch.

Naturally, taking your dog for walks is essential. Some dogs are content with just the one before you leave, others need more during the day. If you can’t be home to walk your dog, consider hiring a dog walker to help Odie get his steps in.

Create a comfortable space

Dogs bond quickly and readily, and we love that about them. However, the flipside is that they sometimes become lonely when you aren’t around, and don’t know what to do with their increased energy levels.

Separation-based stress can be a real problem for some breeds, including:

  • Spanish water dogs
  • Shetland dogs
  • Labrador retrievers

And regardless of breed, your dog may just be tightly wound.

One way to deal with your lonely pup is to set up a comfortable space for them while you’re at work. Dogs are den animals; they like cozy, sometimes even dark places of their own. The idea here is to give them an enclosed, but not restrictive, space. Crate-trained dogs already know how to behave, but for the unfamiliar, you can also use dog gates to keep your little buddy safely confined without making things claustrophobic.

Also prepare a comfy dog bed. Something soft that’s neither too big nor too small, and preferably lined with towels and pillows. You can even go the extra mile and leave an unwashed shirt of yours mixed in. The familiar scent of their best human pal will only help them feel calm and relaxed.

Offer distractions

Distraction is key. A dog with nothing else to do has no choice but to pine for you. And destroy things. If leaving the shades drawn on a window doesn’t help, there are other things you can try.

Play music or TV

Some dogs enjoy music. They won’t listen to just anything, of course, but many like to have music playing, and even display signs of taste and discretion. Some research even suggests they especially enjoy reggae and soft rock.

Dogs watch TV too!. There are even channels made expressly for dogs. What, exactly, do dogs like in a TV show? It’s hard to say. Good writing and believable performances are likely appreciated, but some may simply be attracted by the bright colors, steady movement, and white noise. (Not so different from their human companions.)

Install a pet camera

What does your dog get up to all day while you’re away? And how can you help distract them?

Try installing a pet camera.

Some pet cameras are equipped with microphones and screens so you can video chat with your dog. Others feature treat dispensers you can operate remotely. PetCube, for one, makes one such sophisticated model.

Pet cameras also allow you to check in on Lassie throughout the day. You can observe and judge stress levels, activity, naptime frequency, etc., which can help you better understand your dog’s preferred routine.

Provide some interactive toys for dogs

Interactive dog toys are designed to require minimum effort on your part. The right one can keep a dog engaged for hours, after which they’ll sleep off the excitement for the rest of your workday.

As you shop around, you’ll find that interactive dog toys come in many varieties. Here are some toys to keep your dog busy while you’re at work.

Best toys for dog boredom

Before we dive in, remember to supervise all new toy play and discontinue use of any broken toys.

Slow feeder puzzles

Puzzle dog toys give Rover’s gray matter a thorough workout. They’re great for curious pups who will continue to hunt for treats, even in the face of obstacles. They also help provide nutrition throughout the day.

  • Kong Classic Toy. Nearly indestructible, you can hide treats or kibble in a Kong, throw it into the next room, and find yourself with a well-entertained pup.
  • PetZone IQ Treat Dispenser. This toy takes the basic hide-treats-in-a-toy blueprint and allows you to adjust the difficulty level as your pup becomes more adept at playing with it.

Skill-building puzzles

Some puzzle toys allow your dog to develop search skills.

  • Paw5 Snuffle Mat. Snuffle mats are a substitute of sorts for hunting. You hide treats and your four-legged friend sniffs them out.
  • Trixie Activity Flip Board. For the deep thinker, this board offers treat hiding via a few different mechanisms. Once your dog masters one, they’ll have to start over with another — keeping them busy all the livelong day.

As you can see, there is no shortage of interactive puppy toys to keep doggie boredom at bay while you’re at work. Check out our list of safe pet presents for even more toy ideas to keep your pup occupied while you’re at work, or wrap up for a Christmas surprise.

Rotate toys to keep them engaged

Because dogs are curious and intelligent, they eventually figure out how a toy works and grow bored with it. To keep this from happening too quickly, rotate the toys they play with. This will keep them on their mental toes. Remember: an engaged dog is a happy dog—and less likely to become a destructive or anxious dog.

If you have any questions about toys, behavior management, or any other issues regarding your dog’s health, schedule a virtual care appointment with Vetster from the comfort of your own home. Qualified veterinarians are available 24/7, and happy to help advise on updates that can make your home more accommodating to your lonely pup.


The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.
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