9 Ways to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog While You're Away

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

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. Interactive Toys

You can keep your dog busy with stimulating and interactive toys at home. Interactive toys can exercise your dog’s brain by letting them chew, lick, snif, and explore. Toys such as KONG, activity flip boards, and puppy puzzles are perfect for mental stimulation. 
In addition to simple interactive toys, you can also try out high tech gadgets such as the Furbo Dog Camera! The Furbo Dog Camera is a treat dispenser, microphone and camera in one. You can soothe a bored or anxious pup with a treat dispenser you control wherever you are from your phone. 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.

interactive dog camera

2. Doggie Daycare

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

  • Plays well with other dogs
  • Feels okay when you are not around
  • Has a lot of energy

We understand that all doggies are different. You may want to skip this option if your pup: 

  • Has a significant medical issue 
  • Gets stressed out from social interaction 
  • Suffers from severe separation anxiety
  • Tend to act aggressive with other dogs

doggie daycare

Even if you can only afford doggie daycare once or twice a week, the benefits for an active dog can be huge. Doggie daycare helps them release all their playful energy with other dogs, and they will feel happier the rest of the week.

3. Book a playdate 

Does your friend or neighbor have a puppy or dog that your pooch just loves to play with? 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. Your furbaby can play, socialize and get all the exercise they need safely and comfortably. Remember to leave emergency contact info just in case. Let them know they can count on you because social playtime for your furbaby is something to appreciate.

4. Hire a Dog Walker

Depending on the breed, size, and age, dogs need an average of 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day. Walks are essential for dogs as they need time to sniff around, socialize, go potty, and enjoy some vitamin D from the sun.

dog daily exercise

If you’re a busy bee, 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. You can also ask a neighbor, friend, or relative if you prefer to trust someone more familiar with your home and pup. 

Read more: Dog Sitter v.s Dog Walker

5. Provide a Cozy View

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. Our canine counterparts have enjoyed keeping us, our homes and livestock safe for thousands of years. So set up a cozy bed next to a window or glass door to keep your dog engaged and relaxed.

cozy dog bed

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. You could 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. 

6. Create a Scavenger Hunt

Your furbaby would love to spend the afternoon channeling their inner wolf and going on a yummy treasure hunt. Before you begin the hunt, establish a command to go searching for the hidden treasures such as "search," "find it" or "hunt" to get started.

dog scavenger hunt

Reward them with treats between finding the treasures to encourage them to keep looking. You can 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. Icy Treats 

You can turn any old dog toy or treat into a more stimulating challenge easily for little to no cost. Freeze your dog’s favorite chew toy in an empty container with water — leave part of the toy sticking out. The toy will slowly be revealed as the ice melts, making it a fun and cooling toy for your pup. Just keep in mind that you might have a puddly mess if you remove the entire block of ice from the container. 

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.

8. Teach a Cleaning Trick

What’s 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? You can easily train your dog to pick up after themselves with positive reinforcement clicker training. 

Read more: Clicker Training Basics 

dog toy clean up


Did you know, 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 busy while you’re gone. 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.

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