Feel guilty about leaving your dog home alone on workdays? We’ve got 3 easy and free ways for you to give your dog more fun on the days when you go to work! By making the most of the time you do have for your dog, you can feel a little better when you say goodbye. We know that work can wipe you out, so everything in this video is designed to give maximum benefit to your dog with just a bit of energy from you.
IDEA #1: PUZZLE FEEDING
We LOVE food puzzles, especially for dogs who have long work days. Puzzle feeding is a great way to let your dog use their brain and have fun while you are busy getting ready for the day or unwinding after work. If you don’t have food puzzles, treasure hunts and recycling-based DIY food puzzles can accomplish the same goal.
Option 1: Make it rain kibble! If you are short on time, spray a handful of kibble around a room. This works best in emptier rooms where the little pieces can’t get stuck under or between things.
Option 2: If you don’t want kibble lost in every nook and cranny or your dog needs an easier puzzle, place piles of kibble around the room instead. Start with just a few larger piles in obvious places. As your dog gets better, you can make smaller piles, hide them under or on top of things, and place them on higher levels.
DIY FOOD PUZZLES
Almost anything you recycle can become a food puzzle for your dog. Cereal box, yogurt containers, and paper towel rolls all make great puzzles. If you have the time, you can get fancy and cut new holes, seal over existing ones, or add toys in with the food to customize the difficulty. Keep an eye on your dog with DIY food puzzles to be careful that they aren’t consuming anything they shouldn’t or hurting themselves on sharp edges.
IDEA #2: INDOOR PLAY
If your dog could use to burn off a bit more energy but you are tired, these games are just the thing. They are all hard work for dogs and much easier for humans.
Contrary to any myths you may have heard, tug is a great game to play with your dog. Tug is a full body exercise, so even a few minutes of it can wear your dog out. It doesn’t matter if you let them win or if you play super vigorously, you won’t teach them to be aggressive.
Tug for short bursts with breaks in between to do a little training or to let your dog fetch, chew, or shake the toy. That will keep the activities varied and interesting and keep your dog from getting too worked up.
Flirt poles, or lure toys, are basically giant cat toys. They allow your dog to express their prey drive in a safe way and to sprint, dive, and chase a toy indoors. If you are feeling tired, you can even sit on the couch while you play!
Be careful to avoid super sharp turns or sending your dog careening into the furniture!
IDEA #3: EASY TRAINING GAMES
Training for treats allows your dog to use their brain and helps strengthen your bond! These training games are super easy, so even if you aren’t that confident in your training skills or your dog doesn’t have much experience, you’ll still have fun!
Since you’ll be inside with no distraction, you can use boring treats for these games. It might even be a good way for your to earn some of their breakfast or dinner!
TRAIN YOUR DOG TO CATCH TREATS
Stand a few feet away from your dog, show them that you are about to give them an underhand toss, and gently lob the treat into the air.
As long as you didn’t freak your dog out by throwing something at them, keep trying! It might take a few days before your dog catches one, so enjoy the practice!
Once your dog can catch most of the treats you toss, you can slowly try tossing from farther away and with less of a warm up.
ROLL YOUR DOGS TREATS FOR THEM TO CHASE
Practice come, name recognition, hand targeting, or any behavior that involves your dog looking at you or coming towards you. When you dog earns a treat, instead of handing it right to them, bowl it across the floor so they get to chase it down. Toss the treat in a different direction each time to keep things exciting.
TEACH YOUR DOG ANYTHING YOU WANT
Generously reward your dog for trying, and be patient with both of you. The only goal here is that you and your dog have fun. So, it’s ok if your dog doesn’t ultimately learn anything. As long as you are both having fun and your dog is staying engaged in the process, you are doing a great job!
A few ideas:
- Sit pretty
- Take a bow
Puzzle feeding, indoor play, and silly training are all great ways to make the most of the time you have with your dog. Spending 5 minutes or so on these activities can make a big difference in your dog’s day!
If you want to give any of these ideas a try, schedule it in your calendar now so you don’t forget. Have fun!