Keeping Your Dog Busy While You’re Away From Home

As a pet parent, we want our dogs safe, happy and – let’s be honest – we don’t want them getting bored and tearing up the couch. A dog who lacks physical and mental stimulation can become destructive. This isn’t necessarily because he is a “bad” dog; he’s simply trying to expend his extra energy. Taking the right steps can help to keep him entertained while you’re away will keep everyone happy.



If your dog is more food motivated, there are several options. One is frozen peanut butter. Simply stuff his favorite rubber chew toy (Kong toys work great for this) with some peanut butter (and maybe some blueberries for a little extra treat and antioxidant boost!). Simply freeze overnight and it’s ready for the next day. This will keep your occupied, trying to get every little bit out. Make sure to leave some extra water out, because his mouth is bound to get sticky! Frozen peanut butter filled toys are a great option for a dog who is left on his own for a few hours at a time.


Automatic Treat Dispensers

What about when you’re going to be away for long hours? Automatic treat dispensers are a great option, particularly because they are waiting to be praised for behaving. Many modern automatic treat dispensers, like the Furbo come equipped with a camera device, where you are alerted on your smartphone of any movement. You are then given the option to view what your dog is up to. With the quick press of a button, you are able to praise him, and the camera device will pop a treat out to your dog! Praising and treating him when he is doing things such as chewing on toys and not the couch, will not only keep him distracted from destruction but will help teach him good behavior.


Automatic Ball Throwers

To many dogs, balls are life. If you have one of these dogs, you know exactly what that means. It’s all fetch, all the time. So what better toy to get for your ball crazy dog, than a ball launcher! These toys, like the iFetch, will automatically launch a tennis ball for your dog when he drops it in the bowl on top. It takes some teaching, and a little bit of practice, but before long your dog will learn how to use it all on his own. Some dogs enjoy standing directly in front of the machine, to grab the ball the second it pops out. Always make sure you get the correct size launcher and tennis balls, so they do not get lodged into his throat. It’s probably also a good idea not to point it at anything that could get broken when that ball comes shooting out across the house!



Does your dog like to watch TV with you? Some dogs really enjoy watching the movement or hearing the noises coming out of that strange square on the table. Sometimes, the noise in the background is simply just soothing to them, making them feel less alone while you’re gone. If your dog is a movie buff, try leaving The Secret Life of Pets, or AirBud on for him next time you go out. Sometimes even just putting on the radio can help to soothe him, and make him feel better about you being gone.


Doggy Daycare/Dog Walkers

If you work long hours, it may be a bit harder to help your dog stay distracted while you’re away. It’s especially hard to keep him distracted when he probably has to go out to pee. Unless he has a 24-hour accessible doggy door available to him, that could end badly if he’s really got to go! Or maybe you have a high energy breed that just needs some extra physical activity and mental stimulation. Hiring a dog walker for a midday jog, or taking him to doggy daycare, could make a huge difference in your dog’s overall behavior.


As pet parents, we want our dogs to live their best lives. Keeping your dog entertained while you’re gone, will make everyone happier in the long run. He won’t be bored or destructive, he will get the exercise or mental stimulation he needs, and you will get to keep all of your favorite throw pillows in one piece.


Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.