What to do for your dog so they're happy when you're not around
Our dogs bring so much joy to our lives, but we bring joy to theirs, too. That's why it's tough for your canine companion when you're not home to hang out with him. Of course, you can't stay home constantly and your dog can't come everywhere with you, so he needs to be content with a certain amount of alone time.
What can you do for your dog to keep him happy when you're not around? This will vary depending on your pup's temperament and the amount of time you're out of the house each day, but we have a variety of ideas for you to try.
Provide some much-needed entertainment
Imagine if someone made you stay home all day with no TV, phone, books, internet connection, or anything else to keep you occupied. Not even a newspaper or a deck of cards. This is essentially what you're doing to your dog when you leave her alone with no toys or other entertainment. Dogs get bored, too, and that's often when destructive behavior starts. Puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys are excellent for keeping your dog's mind active when you're out and about, but even a favorite chew toy or durable plush toy can help while away the hours. Another idea is to leave treats hidden around the house so your dog must search the place to find them. Note that you need to be careful as to which toys or puzzles you leave your dog -- if it poses a choking hazard it's not a bright idea for your pooch to play with it unsupervised.
A room with a view
To draw the shades or leave them open, that is the question. The majority of dogs love to have a view of their street and see what's going on in the outside world, but some are better behaved about it than others. If your four-legged friend is happy to watch the world go by quietly, then leaving your curtains open can provide him with some entertainment. However, if he barks at every person, squirrel, and rustling leaf in sight, your neighbors will thank you for keeping the shades drawn. It's also worth noting that some dogs get anxious when left with a view of the outside world when their humans are out, thinking they need to protect the home -- if your pup is the nervous type, he'll be better off with closed curtains.
Video chat with your dog
You've probably FaceTimed with your pals or Skyped your mom on her birthday, but what about video chatting with your dog? It might sound a bit unusual, but it is possible. It started out with video-streaming devices to allow you to keep an eye on your pooch in your absence, but now some of these devices are two-way with a screen and speaker on your dog's end, so she can view your face on the screen and you can offer a few reassuring words when you're not around. You can even find models that let you remotely dispense treats to your four-legged friend! Some dogs can actually become more upset or confused by this, but other dogs are reassured, so it's a gamble.
Consider a dog walker
If you're regularly out for long stretches -- for instance, you work nine to five every weekday -- you may feel it's not fair for your dog to be alone, even when you provide him with ample entertainment. In this case, you should consider enlisting a dog walker to take your canine companion out for an hour or so a day so he can stretch his legs, play with other pups, and have some human companionship.
Products to keep your dog happy
Now that you know what you can try to keep your pooch happy when you're away, you'll need to buy the goods.
Chew toys: We'd recommend the KONG Classic as an excellent place to start. It's tough enough to withstand heavy chewers and can be stuffed with treats or pastes to keep your dog interested. If your dog prefers plush toys, something like the Ethical Skinneeez Stuffingless Dog Toy is a durable choice.
Doggy puzzles or interactive toys: Puzzles and interactive toys reward your pet with treats for solving them or playing in a certain way, so they engage your pooch for longer. We love the Trixie Flip Board and the ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow Interactive Dog Toy.
A dog camera: Choose a model that lets you speak to your dog and/or appear on screen. The Furbo allows you to speak to your pet and dispense treats, but the camera is only one-way. With the PetChatz HD, you dog can both see and hear you, plus you can dispense treats or release calming aromatherapy.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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