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9 Ways to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog While You're Away
Sep 12, 2018

It's hard to leave your furbaby home alone, especially if you're worried they're bored or lonely. Unfortunately, you can't quit your job to cuddle with your furry friend all day long, so how can you have peace of mind while you're away? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make sure your floof is having a ball while you're gone. You can enjoy your time apart and still rejoice in your time together. The key lies in mental stimulation.

Mental stimulation is important for your dog's health and happiness. Boredom can lead to behavioral problems and make dogs feel anxious or lonely. It's in a dog's nature to be busy and by our sides, helping us hunt, work and tend the farm. In fact, wild dogs spend about 80 percent of their days hunting and scavenging for food. Because of their nature, dogs need opportunities to solve problems and exercise their minds and bodies every day, even when they are left alone.

dog problem solving

You can relax — there's no need for you to quit your stable job and become a nomadic hunter for a living. You can keep your furbaby blissfully occupied and entertained while you're at work or running errands. Here's our list of nine ways to keep boredom at bay for a happy and healthy furbaby.

1. Offer Plenty of Interactive Toys

One of the best ways to keep your dog busy while you're gone is to have lots of fun, stimulating and interactive toy options available. Interactive toys can keep dogs occupied for hours, exercise their thinking muscles and provide a pleasurable experience. So, which toys are the best? Here are our top recommendations:

 

  • KONG: A KONG is a dog toy classic that keeps pups digging for treats for hours. Simply fill a KONG with peanut butter or other tasty stuffing, and leave it for your furbaby before you walk out the door. You can even freeze the KONG first for an added layer of challenging fun.

  • Puppy puzzle: If you want to get extra challenging, you can buy a special wooden puzzle that hides treats. With a treat puzzle, dogs push and slide the pieces to reveal the treat hidden underneath.

  • Bob-A-Lot: The Bob-A-Lot treat dispenser exercises doggy feet, paws and minds. Your pup will love pouncing on this toy to make it tilt and dispense their favorite treat. You can even fill it with their supper and control how much they eat to prevent pudginess.

  • Tug-A-Jug: This interactive dispensing toy helps clean teeth and provides a round of tug of war, one of a dog's favorite pastimes. To play, all your furbaby has to do is tug the rope quickly in and out of the jug to dispense a piece of food. They can't eat too much too fast, and they'll love having to use their wild side to get their snack with a tugging game. Plus, it allows them to chew, which helps them relieve stress. The Tug-A-Jug is a great toy for large breeds.

  • Activity flip board: While larger dogs can enjoy playing with a Tug-A-Jug, smaller breeds can get a mental workout with an activity flip board. The dog has to maneuver colorful knobs and cones to get their special treat.

  • Furbo Dog Camera: The Furbo Dog Camera is a treat dispenser, microphone and camera in one. It's fun for both furbabies and their parents. You can soothe a bored or anxious pup with a treat dispenser you control wherever you are from your phone. Toss treats and talk to you your furbaby through the microphone. Enjoy watching your furbaby catch the treat, and keep on eye on them throughout the day.

 interactive dog camera

 

Dogs love to work for their food and use their hunting and scavenging instincts. These toys will not only exercise your doggo's brain and jaws and teach them patience is a virtue but also calm them down while you're away. Make sure to introduce new toys for your pup now and then to keep them thrilled and stimulated.

2. Use a Doggie Daycare

If your furbaby is a social butterfly, doggie daycare will fill their heart with fluttering joy. Although doggie daycare may not be the most affordable or feasible option on this list for every pawrent, it might be the perfect way to provide mental, physical and social stimulation for your dog if you can manage it. However, not every dog enjoys social activities. Doggie daycare might be a good option if your dog:

  • Plays well with other dogs
  • Feels comfortable in public
  • Enjoys interaction with other dogs
  • Feels okay when you are not around
  • Has a lot of energy
  • Is friendly
  • Does not have significant medical issues

If social interaction stresses your furbaby out, they suffer from separation anxiety, or they tend to act aggressive with other dogs, it's probably not the best time to send them to daycare. Don't worry — your furbaby can have just as much fun in the comfort of their home.

doggie daycare

Even if you can afford doggie daycare only once or twice a week, the benefits for an active pup, young or old, can be huge. Sometimes, when you get home from work, you don't have the energy to keep up with your furbaby. Doggie daycare helps them release all their playful energy with other dogs, and they will feel happier the rest of the week. Doggie daycares offer lots of fun activities and games for dogs as well as snack time and quiet time — just like daycare for a child.

3. Hire a Dog Walker

Depending on your dog's age, health condition and breed, they need somewhere between 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day. Working breeds like Labrador retrievers or German shepherds require the most exercise. A daily walk is one way to help your dog reach their exercise needs, and it gives them a chance to sniff around, meet new dogs and people, go potty and enjoy the sunshine on their backs.

dog daily exercise

Although walking is great for both you and your furbaby, sometimes it's not possible to fit a walk into a busy schedule. Consider hiring a professional dog walker to stop by and take your furbaby out for a breath of fresh air and a full sensory experience. Before hiring a dog walker, schedule a meet and greet so that your dog and the dog walker can become acquainted with each other. With a walker, your dog will have something to look forward to every day while you're at work.

If you don't feel comfortable hiring a stranger to enter your home while you're gone, perhaps a neighbor, friend or relative would be happy to take your furbaby out for a daytime stroll. Do you have a family member who could use a few bucks whom your furbaby absolutely adores? They might make the perfect companion for walking with your floof.

4. Provide a Cozy View

Dogs love to be our little — or big — protectors. Set up an area where your furbaby can watch out the window and check out what's going on in the world. They can people-watch or watch other animals and protect their territory.

Since humans have been domesticating dogs, dogs have loved to fulfill the role of protector and guard. Our canine counterparts have enjoyed keeping us, our homes and livestock safe for thousands of years.

cozy dog bed

Set up a cozy bed next to a window or glass door to keep your dog relaxed and ready for a daytime nap. Dog beds are available for all sizes and breeds, from memory foam bolster beds to bagel-shaped beds for furbabies who love to burrow. You could spritz a relaxing aromatherapy spray with chamomile or lavender on the bed, or place a piece of clothing with your scent next to the bed for added comfort. Keep stimulating toys nearby in case they want some playtime.

You might also consider installing a dog door so that your dog can come and go in the yard as they please to run, play and keep guard. Make sure your yard is safe and fenced-in for your bowwow.

5. Book a Playdate

Does your friend or neighbor have a puppy or dog that your pooch just loves to play with? You might be able to arrange a regular playdate with your dog's best pal. If your baby is well-socialized and feels comfortable playing with other dogs, a regular play date can be an economical option.

doggie playdate

Choose someone you trust and who gets along great with your furbaby. Perhaps an unemployed friend or a retired relative is a dog parent with time on their hands. Your furbaby can play, socialize and get all the exercise they need safely and comfortably. Always leave emergency contact info just in case.

You could also trade favors with a trusted neighbor or friend in exchange for playtime with your furbaby. Are you an expert cupcake-baker, or do they need someone to watch their furbaby during a weekend getaway? Let them know they can count on you because social playtime for your furbaby is something to appreciate.

6. Create a Scavenger Hunt

Your furbaby will love to spend the afternoon channeling their inner wolf and going on a yummy treasure hunt. You might need to spend some time training your dog to understand how a scavenger hunt works, but eventually, they'll adore the time to go hunting on their own.

To get a dog used to a scavenger hunt, start off by hiding a few of their favorite treats around your home, leaving some visible and other ones more hidden. Before you begin the hunt, establish a command to go searching for the hidden treasures. You may use the commands "search," "find it" or "hunt" to get started.

dog scavenger hunt

Then, go on the hunt with your dog, and help them find the hidden treasures. Reward them with treats between finding the treasures to encourage them to keep looking. Hide both toys and treats for your dog, and eventually, they'll be filled with excitement to go on a hunt. Soon, you'll be able to hide treats and toys all over your home before you leave for the day and command your furbaby to "hunt" before you walk out the door.

7. Offer Challenging Icy Treats

Want a quick and easy solution to keep your furbaby entertained while you step out? You can turn any old dog toy or treat into a more stimulating challenge easily and for little cost. All you need to do is fill an empty ice cream container with water and a dog bone, rope or chew toy — whichever is most suitable for your pup — and leave part of the toy sticking out. Freeze it the day before you need to leave.

When it's time to leave your furbaby for the day, take the frozen treat out of the freezer. Remove it from the ice cream container, and you'll have a block of ice that your dog will love to go to town on. As the ice melts, the treat will become easier to get at. 

Just keep in mind that you might have a puddle on the floor if you remove the block of ice from the container first. You might use teething toys for puppies or chew toys for older dogs to enjoy the calming effects of chewing and the cool, soothing feeling on their gums.

You can also make an easy "doggy popsicle" to comfort your furbaby every time you leave. All you need to do is pour chicken broth into a plastic food storage container, throw in some of their favorite treats and pop it in the freezer. You can also add a few scoops of peanut butter or baby carrots for more texture and flavor.

Then, before you leave for the day, remove the popsicle from the freezer, run it under a little warm water to loosen it up and pop it out of the container. Give this treat to your furbaby to keep them occupied and calm while you're gone.

8. Teach a Cleaning Trick

What can be better than being a pawrent to a cuddly furbaby who is not only an affectionate companion and guardian, but who can also clean up after themselves? Best of all, your furbaby will love the mental stimulation and satisfaction of doing a job right, and your home will be a lot less messy when you get back. Also, a toy box arranged by your furbaby is just too cute. To train your furbaby to clean up their toys, you can follow a few steps.

First, teach "take it" and "drop it" commands. Hold your dog's favorite toy in your hand, and get them excited about it. Just before they take the toy out of your hand, say "take it." When they take the toy, praise them. To teach "drop it" have a treat ready in your hand. When your dog has a toy in their mouth, tell them to "drop it," and then reward them with the treat. Once your dog successfully takes and drops a toy nine out of 10 practice times, you're ready for the next step.

Next, teach them to put it in the basket. Choose the basket you want to use for your furbaby's toys, and keep it in the same spot in the house — consistency is key. Take your dog's favorite toys, place them next to the basket and sit down. Touch a toy and say "take it."

Then, lure your dog to the basket with a treat. When the toy is hanging over the basket, give the "drop it" command. After your dog drops the toy in the basket, reward them with praise and a treat. Gradually place toys farther away from the basket. After your dog can complete this task nine or 10 times, you can wait to reward them until after they put all their toys away instead of between each toy. Start to clean up by saying "clean up" or "toys away."

dog toy clean up

Will your dog be motivated to clean up without your command? With consistency, practice and patience, your furbaby will feel like a responsible member of the household and will clean up their toys without your command. However, you can continue to train and reward your dog even while you're away with a Furbo camera and treat dispenser.

Keep Furbo in the same room as the dog toys, and speak to your furbaby to command clean-up time. Your dog will hear your voice, and you can watch them in action. Depending on your dog's training level, you can toss treats either after they pick up each toy or after they've entirely completed their task.

9. Make a Busy Bucket

A busy bucket is a DIY toy that can keep your furbaby oblivious to the passing time. This simple treat only requires a bucket, toys, some towels and lots of treats that make your floof's belly happy. All you need to do is place some treats at the bottom of a bucket, put a dog toy on top and follow that with a hand towel to fill the space.

You can create as many layers as you wish of treats, toys and towels that will occupy your furbaby for hours as they dig through the layers for treats and toys.

We hope one of these methods keeps your furbaby cheerfully busy while you're at work or out on the town. You know your companion best, and some activities are better than others depending on your dog's age, condition and personality. But no matter what, keep in mind that there is something for any dog to enjoy.

Also, before you leave for the day, try to fit in playtime or a walk so that your dog gets plenty of exercise. If your furbaby is tired, they might pass the time recharging, napping and soaking up some sun near a window while you're gone, and they'll be less likely to feel bored or anxious or engage in destructive behavior. Either way, exercise is a must for your pooch. And remember, a busy dog is a happy and healthy dog. 

Shop Furbo Dog Camera to Keep Your Dog Stimulated

Furbo is a pawsome way to be with your furbaby no matter where you are. Soothe their anxiety with your voice through the speaker system, toss comforting treats from your phone to get them excited and stimulate their mind and keep an eye on them with the camera. Furbo is so much fun because you can also watch videos later and share them with friends and family. Your furbaby might even become the next internet star from all the great footage you get of them.

puppy furbo camera

Your pup will love the treats, the stimulation and the chance to be close to their dog mommy or daddy at all times. You can use Furbo to help with training while you're away too. Best of all, you can rest easy knowing your dog is safe at home and happy all day, as they're sure to see this new family toy and completely ruv it.

We understand that dogs are not just pets — their paws are imprinted on our hearts. Enjoy every moment with your furbaby by using Furbo, which will mean you get time with them whether you're home or miles away. For more information, contact us today or browse our online store!

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