5 min read
When you are stuck at work, you don't want to lose focus by stressing about the destructive power of a bored dog at home alone. Do you often wonder what you will be going home to?
Will there be yet another explosion of cotton on the lounge room floor, or will your bathroom resemble a Halloween prank gone wrong where teenagers have broken in and enthusiastically vandalised the place?
When you are busy at the office, you have things to occupy your mind. Yes, you miss your fur baby, but you're not going to take your frustrations out by gnawing on the chair leg, we hope. Your lonely, bored dog, on the other hand, is going to find something, anything, to relieve their boredom, and the results are often not pretty.
If thoughts of your four-legged friend are often mentally captioned with "this is why I can't have nice things," here are a few ideas on how to ensure you can keep a dog at home alone and your decor intact.
Dogs are a lot more intelligent than say, a cow. While a cow is happy to stand about in a paddock and mindlessly chew on grass all day, a dog is an intelligent creature that is easily bored. It's why dogs make such great companions, but cows, not so much.
When you can't be home to keep your dog company all day, you will need to give them something to do that will take their focus off your kitchen chair legs or your third set of sofa cushions.
The trick to stopping a dog from unleashing its destructive power when you're not home is to provide plenty of companionship and stimulation when you do have time to spend with her.
Dogs like nothing more than to explore the world beyond their fence line. Regularly exercising your pet is an excellent start to ensuring they get their fill of excitement for the day and are too tuckered out to bother with the furniture when you are busy elsewhere.
However, your dog may still have some energy reserves even after a brisk morning walk. Plus, they get to nap for most of the day. There's no telling what they will get up to when they wake and find their regular source of entertainment is out earning a living. You will need a strategy to ensure they don't use that excess energy for nefarious purposes.
Dogs can't do sudoku or the daily crossword to idle away their free time, but they do love puzzles. Fortunately, there are plenty of interactive toys you can leave out for your pet so they can entertain themselves for a large portion of the day.
Dogs are like people. Give them the same old thing every day, and they will soon get bored and revert to their former evil ways for entertainment.
When providing toys, keep a supply in storage and swap them out every day or couple of days. Leave them around the apartment if you're a city dweller or spread a few around the backyard if you're a suburbanite lucky enough to have a backyard.
When your dog starts looking for things to do, they are more likely to take an interest in an interactive toy and the promise of a tasty treat for a little bit of effort, over tasteless wood splinters, toilet paper, or cotton stuffing. Two or three toys should be enough to keep them occupied until you get home.
Dogs that like to chew will enjoy one of the many chew toys available on the market. Avoid giving them animal bones to devour when you're not around. Bones can splinter and create choking hazards. Of course, some dog toys can break apart as well, so always choose quality brands. If in doubt, consult with your veterinarian.
Rotating your toys will help them last. Some dogs have incredible chewing power and will quickly destroy a toy if they have unfettered access for more than a day or two.
Interactive toys that make your dog work for a small treat work fantastically. A dog's keen sense of smell naturally draws them to the toy, and then they get to have fun working out how to access the food.
Many of the toys, like food balls, also have rubber nodules which give the gums and teeth a good workout and prevent plaque and tartar build-up.
It's rather remarkable the level of complexity you can incorporate into your playtime with your dog - they really are much smarter than most people give them credit for. Check out some of the interactive games you can play with your dog that will keep them mentally stimulated.
If your furry friend is comfortable with the sit and stay commands, then you can enjoy a game of hide and seek with them. Get them to sit, and command them to stay while you run off to your hiding spot. When you're ready, call out to your dog, who will then happily snuffle around until they discover your whereabouts. It's a lot more fun for the dog if you have a tasty treat to reward them for being so clever.
This simple game requires a 12 x muffin tin and a few tennis balls. Place a treat in one of the muffin cups, and then cover all the cups with tennis balls. Your dog will then have to remove the balls until they find the treat.
You will need a large plastic water or soft drink bottle and a broomstick for this one. Place two holes at equal height on opposite sides of the bottle, somewhere close to the spout. Push the broomstick through the holes and suspend the stick at a height that allows the dog to easily reach the bottle with their paws (two chairs will work). Put a handful of dog biscuits inside the bottle. Your dog will have a lot of fun working out how to spin the bottle just right, so kibble falls out of the spout.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with enjoying quality time with your pet and stimulating their mind when you are with them, so they are not as quick to boredom while you are not.
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8 min read
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