One of the hardest parts of loving our furry friends is sometimes having to leave them at home when you go out. Knowing they’ll be home in their playpen or crate, it’s important to find things to keep your dog entertained and help them pass the time.
Finding the right thing to keep your dog busy and entertained may require a little trial and error.
This depends on your dog’s personality, preferences, and how long you will be out of the house. Each dog is different!
Written by Laryn Carter.
Laryn is a Clemson University alumna, with undergraduate studies focused on Animal and Veterinary Sciences.
As a life long animal lover raised on a family hobby farm, she has special interest in both pets and farm animals.
She enjoys combining her passion for animals with her interest in writing to create well-written, educational content. In her free time, Laryn likes to read, travel, and spend time with her friends and family (animals included!)
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Some dogs are content to sleep the majority of your time away, whereas others may prefer having some type of toy or treat to enjoy.
With this article and a little experimentation, it shouldn’t be difficult to find exactly what your dog needs to stay busy and entertained while you are away. Keep reading to find out some of the best tips, toys, treats, and more to keep your dog happy in their crate.
Many dogs who are comfortable and relaxed in their crate, will happily sleep for a few hours while you are gone.
This should come as no surprise considering how much dogs sleep, which is:
To promote this easy, healthy habit, you should ensure your dog’s crate has soft flooring, comfortable bedding, and or soft blankets to sleep on.
Making sure your dog has had plenty of physical exercise, food, and water can also encourage your dog to sleep when they are in their crate.
Alternatively, you can consider a dog bed instead of crate.
Just like a young child, your dog may find comfort in a favorite stuffed animal or plush toy.
Especially if it makes noise when the dog plays with it.
Placed in your dog’s crate when you plan to leave can provide your dog both something to interact with, as well as a comfort item to cuddle with.
This can work even better if your pet has had this plushie for multiple years and the dog is strongly bonded to the toy.
There are numerous plush toys available which are designed to help calm and entertain your dog.
Some of the most popular features include the imitation of physical warmth, and a simulated heartbeat sound, both of which ease loneliness and separation anxiety.
Other plush toys may double as a white noise machine, which can help alleviate stress from outside sounds and soothe your dog.
Chew/ Dental Toys
Sturdy chews are another toy option that can provide your dog with entertainment as well as comfort.
Whether your dog’s chew toy is flavored, scented, or just a fan-favorite, chewing is a natural behavior for dogs and will certainly keep them busy for a while in their crate.
Additionally, if your dog enjoys using a dental chew toy, the time they spend in their crate gnawing on the toy will be great for their teeth and gums.
One of the most important things to remember when leaving any toys in your dog’s crate is their safety.
For gentle and extreme chewers alike, you should feel confident in the toy’s ability to tolerate the chewing without breaking down or being swallowed.
Watching your dog play with the toy several times before leaving it in their crate with them is a good habit.
Most dogs are highly food-driven!
They are willing to spend a lot of time working toward their next treat or meal.
Puzzle feeders are a great way to promote normal licking and chewing behaviors, feed your dog, and keep your furry friend occupied in their crate.
The hardest part of using a puzzle feeder in your dog’s crate is figuring out your dog’s favorite things to eat, and how hard they will work for them.
Once you know what foods and treats will make your dog go crazy, you can pick out a few different puzzle feeders for them to try out.
A KONG is a classic puzzle feeder/ chew toy which can be used in numerous ways, is freezer and dishwasher safe, floats, bounces, and holds up against chewing for years.
Lick mats and treat-dispensing balls are also great options that promote natural behaviors and keep your dog busy in their crate.
According to dog behaviorist, Cesar Millan, dogs like watching TV because their people do, and just like humans, dogs see TV as a form of entertainment.
With video and streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, plus the hundreds of videos made just for dogs, finding something for your dog to watch should only take a matter of minutes.
Naturally, most dogs are drawn to watching sports thanks to catching, throwing, kicking, or running with a ball on the screen.
Dogs also enjoy watching other dogs on TV, as they look realistic and are relatable to your furry friend.
Additionally, dogs may enjoy watching nature shows, cartoons, and even action movies!
Listening to music
Just like in humans, music can create a powerful emotional response in dogs. Capable of calming, exciting, or even conveying feelings of greatness, and pride, music is a great way to keep your dog entertained in their crate.
Classical music has been a popular choice for animals for years, but you can play whatever you think your dog enjoys most.
Studies have shown that classical music can help reduce stress and vocalization, and encourage calm behavior, but beware of heavy metal and similar genres as they may promote anxiety and stress.
Some dogs may howl or bark along with their favorite songs, so you’ll know if you are on the right track!
Like most other aspects of pet ownership, finding good ways to keep your dog busy and entertained in their crate might require a little trial and error.
The things that work for your neighbor’s dog or your parent’s dog, might not work for you and your dog.
I think it’s important to remember that your dog is an individual with a unique personality and preferences.
I hope you find the suggestions from this list helpful, and that you are more prepared to keep your dog busy and entertained in their crate. You can find a list of top small dog crates from this article.
Remember to use careful judgment on anything you plan to leave in your dog’s crate and to contact your veterinarian if you see any concerning or unusual behavior.