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7 Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy While at Home

Although getting to spend extended time with our pets may seem like one of the few perks of social distancing, some things are easier to accomplish without a furry distraction. Whether it’s to lead a work conference call without a pup barking in the background, finish homework with your kid without a fluffy (and frankly more fun) interruption or simply make dinner without your dog underfoot, consider implementing some of these strategies at home the next time you need your dog to stay busy without you.

7 ideas to keep your dog entertained:

1. A Stuffed KONG

A tasty stuffed KONG toy is an easy way to keep your dog occupied for long periods of time. Simply insert a KONG filling, pieces of kibble or wet food into the opening and let your dog entertain themselves as they work hard to get to their treat. While the classic red KONG may be the most recognizable in the toy line and the best option for most adult dogs, seniors, puppies and extreme chewers should get the KONG designed for them (and their teeth).

Pro tip: You can increase their fun (and buy yourself some additional quiet time) by hiding the KONG and letting your pup go find it. Or freeze the KONG after you fill it so your pup staysengaged longer as their treats thaw. 

2. Long-lasting chew

Long-lasting chews are another tasty way to keep your pup occupied. Be sure to take into account your pup’s favorite flavors, their size, their age and their chew strength when choosing the right chew for them.

3. Slow-feeder bowl

A slow-feeder is an easy way to make mealtimes last longer as your dog needs to slow down and use their mental capabilities to access each piece of kibble. The bonus here is that you get extra time to yourself. The fun designs of these bowls keep dogs from inhaling their food, which also helps prevent bloat and regurgitation in dogs who might normally eat a bit too quickly. If you don’t have a slow-feeder bowl,  you can DIY your own by placing a small upside-down dish or tennis ball in your pet’s usual bowl. They’ll have to nose around it to get their food out.

4. Interactive puzzle toy

Any toy is likely to keep your dog occupied for at least a little while, but a puzzle toy can keep them mentally stimulated without you for longer than your average ball. Puzzle toys are also a great way to entertain your pup while helping them learn new skills, like problem-solving. Look for a toy that can be adapted for different skill levels so you can continue to challenge your dog as they learn.

5. A treat-dispensing toy

Similar in theory to a puzzle toy, treat-dispensing toys are designed to mentally and physically stimulate your dog and keep them engaged for hours. Just remember to limit their treat intake to 10% of their overall diet. If you’re worried about overdoing the treats, you can always take a portion of their normal day’s meal and put it inside the toy instead of other treats.

6. Automatic ball launcher

Have a fetch-obsessed dog who won’t stop dropping their drool-soaked toy into your lap while you’re working on that important spreadsheet for work? While fetch is a great way to keep your dog entertained and work out some of their energy, it also usually requires your involvement. Auto fetch toys play ball without you—potentially engaging your dog for hours—while you get your work done (or take a much-deserved respite for yourself).

7. Solo tug toys

Tug is another fun game to play with your pup, but it requires two to tango…unless you hook up your pup with a solo tug toy. A tree-hanging tug rope, for example, is a simple toy that you can attach to a fixed overhead object like a tree branch or a sturdy second-story deck beam. A ball attached to a specially designed bungee cord allows your dog to pull and tug as much as they want without ever actually losing the ball. In other words, it allows for hours of ball play for your dog while you concentrate on other things.
Spending time with our pets right now is a great way to release stress and pent-up energy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a little downtime ourselves every now and again. Some of the above examples can help you keep your dog happy and engaged while you get stuff done. For more ideas, check out additional boredom buster toy options here.