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How to Keep Your Dog Entertained Indoors While You're at Work - PawSafe

How to Keep Your Dog Entertained Indoors While You’re at Work

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

How to keep your dog entertained while youre at work

Dogs get lonely and destructive if you leave them alone while you go to work. Read on for some basic solutions for keeping your dog entertained indoors at home.

At one point, your dog will have to stay home alone as you attend to matters away. Keeping your dog occupied and entertained promotes good behavior during their time alone. A lonely dog will take their frustration out on your furniture and shoes and will bark relentlessly. 

Being away from home for long hours can be stressful because you wonder what your furbaby is up to. This article expounds on how to keep your dog entertained while at work to make these times less tedious for your dog and stress-free for you. As always, we like to make sure our articles are backed up by science, so we made sure to consult the work of Dr. Deborah Wells, DVM in her work on environmental enrichment for dogs.

11 Ways to Keep Your Dog Entertained While You’re Away 

Various games and toys keep dogs entertained long enough for you to return home. Chew toys, DIY treat-stuffed toys, turning on the TV, treat hunting, and puzzles are some ways to engage your dog when you’re at work. These methods keep your dog’s mind and body occupied. 

It’s not practical to skip work days or other important functions to keep your canine friend company. Much as most pet parents would love to stay snuggled up with their pets, sometimes they must leave their pups to rough out on their own. These are 7 indoor activities that will keep your dog entertained while you’re away. 

1. Start the Day with Activity Before Work

Start the day on a high note

Starting your dog’s day with a high-energy activity like a brisk walk before you head out helps to tire out your pup. Tired dogs are less likely to get bored because they’ll be busy napping. You could wake up earlier for time to exercise your dog or allow your dog to play in the garden if a walk isn’t possible. Having a quick morning obedience training session is another great way to give your dog a mental workout. 

Additionally, you can get food puzzles for your dogs to stimulate them mentally before you head to work. Sensory toys like snuffle mats stimulate your dogs, while food dispensing puzzles test your dog’s recall skills. The PawSafe foraging snuffle mat slows down fast eaters and gives your dog a mental workout because they have to trace the treats with their smell. 

The effects of the early physical and mental exercises in your dog will eventually wear out within the day. However, dogs that receive constant exercise are less likely to experience anxiety than dogs that live sedentary lives. The other indoor activities below maintain the entertaining momentum set up by high-energy activities in the morning. 

2. Organize a Dog Scavenger Hunt

Before you leave the house, leave a few high-value, aromatic treats in different places where your dog hand out. Eventually, your pup will catch a whiff of the yummy treats and will be off eagerly looking for them. The treasure hunt for treats will keep your dog occupied, and finding the treats will boost your dog’s mood. 

Go easy on the treats or piles of kibble you leave for your dog. As much as you’re trying to entertain your dogs, we wouldn’t want to swap boredom for overweight issues. Aim to leave quality treats low in calories and contain whole ingredients instead of by-products for maximum nutrition. 

Speaking of hiding treats to distract your canines, some dogs hide their treats themselves. The instinct to save food and nervousness could be why your dogs hide their treats. Dogs hiding treats could explain why you would encounter bones and other dog goodies in the areas you’re about to leave treats. 

4. Turn on the Television or Radio

Research such as a 2002 study by Dr. Deborah Wells confirms the relaxing effect classical music has on dogs. Play some soothing classical music or simply turn the radio on if you can’t find an animal show. The music and radio sound drowns outside noises like other barking dogs  and stimulates your dog’s auditory senses.

5. Treat-Stuffed Toys: Commercial or DIY

Put treats like pieces of fruit or tasty dry kibble into a hollow toy or an item around your house to occupy your dog. You can smear a little peanut butter on the top of the toy to motivate your dog to lick the toys even longer, emphasis on a little. Peanut butter is very high in fats, making it unsuitable in large quantities. 

Just 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain around 180 to 200 calories, making them very calorie-dense. 1/2 a teaspoon for small dogs and 1 teaspoon for large dogs, spread out on the edges of a hollow toy, is enough for the day because too much peanut butter can cause obesity and pancreatitis. 

Stuffable toys give your dog mental stimulation, an example of indoor dog exercises. You can stuff canned food or kibble hydrated with broth into the toys. Ensure the food products you decide to use don’t have harmful ingredients like xylitol which is common in today’s food products. 

6. Frozen Treats & Lick Mats

During the night before work, you can choose to fill a container with water, dip your dog’s favorite treats, and allow it to freeze. The result is a frozen treat that will take a long time of licking to unravel; think of it as a doggy ice pop. Iced treats are especially helpful for your pooch on hot summer days. Another great option when leaving to work is to leave your dog with a lick mat to keep them busy as your leave. See this article for ideas on what to put on a dog lick mat.

The continuous licking of the ice block reduced anxiety in dogs. Additionally, frozen treats numb the gums and provide relief from teething pain in puppies. Avoid giving your dog human ice cream and frozen yogurt because most contain dairy products, yet most dogs are lactose intolerant. Dairy could cause stomach upset and diarrhea in dogs. 

7. Add Another Fur Baby to the Family

two puppies playing together

Lonely dogs left to their devices can become catastrophic. For single-pet households, it would help to consider adopting a dog or buying one from a reputable breeder. Owning pets is a responsibility that can be expensive in the midst of buying quality food and taking regular trips to the vet. However, don’t adopt two puppies from the same litter, as this can cause littermate syndrome.

Once you establish that parenting more than one dog is safely within your budget, you can add to the family. Another pet makes for an all-day playmate for your dog, reducing their boredom when you’re not home. Once your dogs get acquainted, the fun and games can begin, even when they’re home alone. 

However, dogs in multi-pet households can engage in resource guarding, resulting in hoarding behavior. These stashing tendencies could explain why your dog’s hiding their treats as they try to save food for later. Despite the challenges, getting another furbaby can be rewarding for both you and your dog. 

If you’re not quite ready to adopt or buy a dog, you can invite a friend’s or neighbor’s dog over. Being at work doesn’t mean your dog has to stay alone. Ensure the two dogs get along, and then make the official invite for your friend and their dog to come and keep your pooch company. It’s best to leave your vet’s number and name at your friend’s as extra safety precautions in case of an emergency. 

Another option is to invest in a doggy daycare or pet sitter to make sure your dog has company and playtime while you are away.

8. Install a Pet Camera That Let’s You talk To Your Dog (and Give Treats)

If your pup suffers from separation anxiety, they’ll think leaving them behind is downright torture. Other dogs are more confident in spending time in solitude; it all boils down to your dog’s temperament. Pet cameras let you watch how your dog reacts to being alone and whether the situation is highly upsetting. 

Many modern-day pet cameras provide two-way audio. You can speak to your dog when they’re being naughty and give them commands like “leave it.” The entertainment portion of these cameras emerges when they act as treat dispensing tools, whereby you can throw treats to your pups remotely. 

9. Hire a Dog Walker

Your canine companion loves to explore, and hiring a dog walker ensures they get their needed exercise and mental stimulation even while you’re away. Engaging a trusted dog walker not only allows your pup to stretch their legs but also provides them with vital interaction and attention. With some fresh air and a good walk, your dog is likely to be more content and calm while waiting for you to return home.

10. Invest in a Doggy Day Care

Think of doggy day care as a fun mini-vacation for your pet! Doggy day cares are wonderful places where your fur baby can mingle with other pups under the supervision of trained professionals. Not only do they get to play to their heart’s content, but they’ll also learn valuable socialization skills. Your dog will likely come home tired and happy after a day of play, making them more relaxed until your return. Keep in mind that not every dog does well in daycare, as they may find too many other dogs overwhelming and become reactive.

11. Arrange Playdates for Your Dog

Setting up playdates with other dog parents can be a fantastic way to keep your pet entertained. Perhaps a neighbor or a friend has a dog that gets along well with yours. Coordinating playdates allows your dog to have fun and be social while you’re tending to your work responsibilities. Just ensure that the play area is safe and that the dogs are compatible playmates to avoid any potential mishaps.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are social creatures and love to be in the company of their loved ones. However, due to busy schedules, your dog may remain home alone sometimes. Lonely and bored dogs can become destructive, so it’s best to keep your dogs entertained indoors while you’re away at work. 

Frozen treats, turning on the TV, frozen treats, treasure hunts, and stuffables entertain your dog Indoors. When you return from work, wait until your dog calms down before greeting them. Waiting before greetings shows dogs that your return isn’t too much better than staying by themselves at home.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.