How To Provide Mental Stimulation For Dogs Home Alone?

No matter how much we love our dogs, sometimes we have to leave them at home for a few hours. Whether this is a daily routine or only occasional, leaving your pet alone will eventually happen.

So, how can you provide them with something mentally stimulating while you are away? 

Well, there are plenty of options, and I’m here to give you some tips!

5 Tips for fun and mental stimulation while you are gone:

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Interactive Toys
  • Watch TV, listen to radio
  • Puzzle Feeders
  • Window Access

By Allison Salonko.

Allison is a Veterinary Technician in the state of Indiana. She graduated from International Business College and Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with a degree in Animal Science and Technology in 2011.

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Scavenger Hunt – Hiding Toys And Treats To Keep Them Busy

Not all dogs will take to this technique, mainly because if they don’t have the motivation to go looking or even think about it, this won’t work.

Unfortunately, some dogs are just too lazy to go searching around the house for toys or kibbles.

For food and toy motivated doggos, this is a great way to keep them moving and using their nose, eyes and brain!

How do you create a scavenger hunt for your dog, you ask?

Well, it’s pretty simple.

  • First, find your dog’s favorite toys, treats or both.
  • Next, hide them!

Sometimes it helps to let your dog see what you’re doing the first time or two, just so they realize that you want them to find them.

Making this a routine can be a lot of fun and mentally stimulating for your dog!

Interactive Toys – Keeping Them Moving And Thinking

Finding your dog an interactive toy can be hugely rewarding for everyone.

Not only will it keep them mentally stimulated, but it should also encourage them to be more active than they normally would. After all, many dogs spend hours sleeping or laying on the couch or in bed when their owners are away.

StarMark Interactive Bob-A-Lot Dog Toy

This light bulb shaped Bob-A-Lot toy (Amazon.com) is one that you can hide treats or kibble inside and just let your dog at it!

The hole that the kibble comes out of is quite small, so it is not that easy for them to dump all of it out at once.

The Bob-A-Lot is very durable and can handle most chewers. Many dogs enjoy the challenge of moving and rolling the toy around in order to receive their reward. We appreciate that it keeps them active as well.

Even the laziest dog may not realize that he’s been more active!

ELOPAW Suction Cup Dog Tug Toy

The ELOPAW Tug Toy (Amazon.com) is one that is cool and creative.

If you have a dog that is an aggressive chewer and loves to play tug of war, this is the toy for them!

You only have to apply the suction cups to a hard floor surface and that’s it! Next, send the dog in to put the toy to the test!

ELOPAW claims that their toy should stand up to even some of the most aggressive chewers! Their high-density and durable material is one that can hold up to most dogs and the wear and tear that comes along with them.

Not only is it great for entertainment, but the molar ball also can house up to a cup or two of food and treats.

Dogs Like To Watch TV And Listen To The Radio Too

Sometimes I suggest keeping the TV or radio on for dogs that have a lot of separation anxiety.

Having that constant noise in the background can be soothing for dogs that become upset when alone.

Did you know that they even have channels and radio stations specifically for pets??

Well, they do!

White noise machines are available if you don’t want to leave your radio or TV on all day while you are at work. They’re relatively cheap and sometimes people find them to be mentally relaxing as well.

Puzzle Feeders – Stimulating The Mind And The Stomach

Puzzle feeders are a great way to provide your pet with mental stimulation, food and fun! They are often designed with lids and compartments that need to be flipped or moved over in order for them to receive their reward of treats and kibbles.

There are even higher levels of difficulty for the super smarty-pants dogs that can figure out anything you give them!

Nina Ottosan Puzzle Game For Dogs By Outward Hound

This puzzle game by Outward Hound (Amazon.com) is one that is great for most dogs that enjoy a slight challenge. I actually purchased this for my dog and she loves it!

I also get plenty of entertainment watching her try and figure it out, experimenting with her nose and paws before she learns how to flip the lids open or knock over the bones.

This is an intermediate level challenge puzzle but my silly hound dog had no issues figuring it out!

SPOT Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone

The SPOT Seek-A-Treat (Amazon.com) board is one that will keep your dog busy and using their brain. This puzzle bone actually requires your dog to think about what to do next in order to obtain their next reward, keeping them distracted and exercising their brain.

This toy is not only fun but also good for your dog’s cognitive function and reduces unwanted boredom behaviors.

Pick A Window Seat

Unless your dog has an issue with lunging at the window when people or other animals go by, this is a great way to keep your pet mentally stimulated and feeling less cooped up. Ramps and stairs can help them to get up there if neccessary.

Being stuck in a house all day without access to a window can actually make some dogs depressed and destructive.

It is important that they can see something outside to help combat unwanted emotional distress.

Keeping Your Dog Mentally Stimulated Is Good For The Whole Household

A dog that has plenty of mental stimulation is a dog that is happy and has less unwanted behaviors.

Dogs that become bored and restless are prone to negative behaviors such as destructiveness and inappropriate urination and defecation.

Providing your canine companion with a new toy, puzzle or window seat can mean a lot for their overall happiness and mental health. 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

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