How to Keep a Dog Entertained While at Work

How to Keep a Dog Entertained While at Work


While our dogs may love to sleep the day away, eight hours alone can feel like an eternity for a dog. They might dream of accompanying us to wherever we go each day, but the fact is, not all offices are dog-friendly.  

That’s why knowing how to keep dogs entertained while at work is very useful!  Isa-May Pellerin, a certified animal health technician, recommends tiring your dog out through both physical and mental exercise before you head off to work each morning.

By implementing a few clever strategies, you can keep your pup happily occupied and prevent them from turning to less desirable activities (like chewing a new tunnel into your wall). So, ditch the guilt and try a few of the strategies we’ve laid out below.

Understanding Your Dog’s Needs

It's common to think that providing breakfast and a comfortable bed is enough to keep your dog happy all day. But dogs need more than that to stay fit and healthy. Without proper exercise, dogs can get bored and display destructive behaviors. Therefore, it's essential to ensure your dog gets physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

Isa-May explains that common signs of boredom include “chewing, tail chasing, and vocalization.” Generally, if your dog is getting up to mischief, there’s a good chance they’re bored!

Studies have also confirmed that a lack of mental stimulation leads to an increase in destructive behaviors. So, how do we keep our canines entertained and busy while we’re away? Keep reading to find out more! 

Interactive Toys and Puzzles

Now that we understand why mental stimulation is key to a happy pup, here's where things get fun: Equipping your dog with an arsenal of boredom-busting toys and puzzles! Isa-May points out that choosing the right toy for your dog involves a lot of trial and error.

This section will provide you with plenty of ideas so that you can choose the best options to keep your pup entertained while you're away. 

1. Treat Dispensers

Treat dispensers, like the Earth Rated Enrichment Toy are rubber dog toys with a hole in the middle where you can stuff your dog’s favorite treats and food. 

Handy tip: Stuff the toy with wet food like canned food or yogurt before freezing it. A frozen treat-dispensing toy will take longer for your dog to finish, thereby distracting them for longer while you're away. 

2. Lick Mats

Lick mats are silicone mats with grooves and ridges, perfect for spreading peanut butter, yogurt, or other dog-safe spreads. They keep your pup entertained while licking their tasty treats, and they’re a laid-back activity, too. 

3. Snuffle Mats

A snuffle mat is a fabric mat with pockets or flaps where you hide kibble or treats. These trigger your dog’s natural foraging instincts, especially if your dog has a strong nose. 

4. Food Puzzles

Food puzzles are interactive toys that dispense treats or kibble when your dog figures out how to manipulate them. They come in several difficulty levels to keep things challenging. These brain teasers work well for more intelligent dogs, but they also make some easy options for dogs that aren’t used to these types of puzzles. 

5. Slow Feeders

A toy that helps slow down meal time and instead turns dinner into an engaging experience can work great for dogs who enjoy a challenge. Dogs who tend to inhale their food in seconds can also benefit from this type of toy. The Earth Rated Treat Toy is a simple, playful, and intuitive toy that provides a fully interactive and rewarding experience for dogs. 

DIY Entertainment Solutions

You don’t have to break the bank to keep your dog entertained. With a little creativity and household items, you can create some straightforward entertainment for your pup. 

1. Muffin Tin Challenge

Step 1: Grab a clean muffin tin and some older tennis balls.

Step 2: Place treats under some of the tennis balls (but not all).

Step 3: Hide the tin in a room that your dog will explore during the day so they can find this surprise and enjoy the treats while you’re away.

2. Scent Exploration

Step 1: Before you leave for work, hide small treats around the house. Start with easier places and make it harder as your dog gets better at the game.

Step 2: Let your pup discover the treats throughout the day while you’re gone. 

3. DIY Treat Dispenser

Step 1: Grab an ice-cube tray and fill some of the holes with broth, yogurt, or canned food. 

Step 2: Stick the tray in the freezer the night before work. 

Step 3: When you leave for work in the morning, present your pup with the ice-cube tray. It should keep them busy for an hour or two! 

Be sure to include these treats in your dog’s daily calorie allowance to avoid your dog gaining too much weight.

The Role of Technology in Entertaining Your Dog

Technology can also help you entertain your canine. While DIY solutions and interactive toys are fantastic, technology can also help keep your pup mentally and physically stimulated.

1. The Treat-Cam

A treat-cam is an interactive camera with a treat dispenser that remotely dispenses treats through a smartphone app. These cameras are perfect for checking in on your dog while you’re at work and giving them a treat for being the bestest dog in the world! 

2. Automated Fetch

You may tire of fetch, but an automatic dog ball launcher does not! Today, several options are available on the market, providing your pup with some much-needed playtime while you’re away. 

Some models can let you pre-set it to automatically turn on while you're a work so your dog can stretch their legs and burn off some energy throughout the day.  

3. Interactive Food Puzzles

Electronic food puzzles require your dog to solve tasks or complete challenges to access hidden treats. Some high-tech puzzles help keep your pup mentally stimulated and engaged for extended periods. 

If your dog is smarter than normal puzzles can account for, an automatic option is a better more challenging option. 

Exercise Before Work

Now that you have a few in-home entertainment options let’s not forget the power of a good pre-work walk. Letting your dog stretch their legs, sniff out exciting news, and burn off some pent-up energy is important. 

Exercise is necessary for your dog’s health and tires them out. A tired pup is often a content pup. Studies have found that exercise, even very short walks, decreases poor behaviors in shelter dogs. 

Walks are a good preventative measure against destructive behaviors. 

The best time to exercise your dog is in the morning before work. This way, they are well-exercised while you’re at work, and you don’t have to worry about them having zoomies around the house. 

Hiring Help

While we can try to keep our dogs entertained ourselves, we sometimes need a little extra help with taking care of them. Dog walkers and pet sitters can help keep your dog busy while you’re away, especially if they’re a high-energy breed. 

If your dog would benefit from an extra walk each day, a dog walker can be a huge help. They provide your pup with much-needed exercise and social interaction. Some dogs simply need more exercise than a quick walk in the morning will provide. 

Pet sitters may be necessary if you have extended work hours. Even if your pet sitter doesn’t stay around all day, a quick visit can provide your dog with some extra playtime and potty breaks. 

Training Tips for Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs can be a serious obstacle for pet parents who work outside of the home. Often, dogs with separation anxiety are destructive and very loud, potentially causing problems around the home and with the neighbors! Plus, no one wants an anxious dog.

Luckily, mild separation anxiety is something that training can help with. It’s important to start slow. Isa-May recommends starting with very short periods of time away and gradually increasing as your dog manages their anxiety. 

Isa May also recommends minimizing fuss over leaving and coming back. She specifically recommends that 15 minutes before leaving and after coming home, owners should “pay little attention to the dog.” By minimizing the significance of your leaving, you can help reduce your dog’s separation anxiety. 

Distractions are also very helpful. Providing some of the recommended toys above can help keep your dog’s mind busy while you’re gone. 

Monitoring Your Dog

Anytime you provide your pup with new toys, it’s important to monitor them closely. Isa-May recommends choosing toys that fit your dog’s chewing style. For instance, you should pick a toy that is “tough enough for the hard chewer” or “soft enough for the gentle chewer.” Choosing the right toy is the first step to safety. 

You should preferably not give a toy for the first time as you’re walking out the door. Instead, introduce your dog to their toy while you’re at home and can supervise them using it. 

Consider using cameras in your home to monitor your dog while you’re at work. These don’t have to be expensive if you choose options that only include a live feed and no storage fees. 

Cameras are great for keeping an eye on your dog to see how they are coping while you’re gone. They are particularly useful for dogs with severe separation anxiety who can’t be left alone for long. 

If you do have a pup with severe separation anxiety and you need to go back into the office, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet about an anti-anxiety medication. They will be able to advise you on which one is best for your dog based on the frequency and duration you’ll be away from the home. 

Endless Options

There are tons of entertainment options for your pup to enjoy while you’re at work. The key is to find what works best for your pet, which may take some experimentation. Some dogs might thrive with a solo puzzle session, while others might crave the social interaction of a dog walker. 

So, the next time you head out the door, you can do so with confidence, knowing your dog is having a blast with their arsenal of boredom-battling toys and activities. 

Keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically engaged with our Earth Rated Enrichment Toy, perfect to fill with both dry and wet treats to ensure hours of fun!

Shop Enrichment Toy Now

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