Dr Katrina talks training tips: Give your dog a job
Dogs thrive on exploring the great outdoors - they love to get out and about, go for a walk, run around with other dogs and play with their owners. But the reality for many dogs is that they spend a lot of time home alone during the day while their owners work.
This isn’t always a problem as most dogs quickly become used to their owner’s routine and dogs can also be taught from an early age to be comfortable with alone time. But some dogs, particularly younger dogs, can become bored when they don’t have company and adequate physical and mental stimulation. Bored dogs often find a way to amuse themselves and this can result in nuisance behaviours such as chewing, barking and digging. So while you go off to your job every working day, be sure you also give your dog a job to do to keep them occupied.
Make your dog ‘work’ for their food with interactive toys that dispense food when your dog plays with them.
Instead of bolting their food down in one gulp, use a portion of it in a toy, so your dog has a workout while they’re having a meal. The KONG Wobbler is a great example of this type of toy. It sits upright until the dog pushes it with their paw or nose, it will then spin, roll and wobble unpredictably, dispensing food along the way. This type of toy can entertain and challenge most dogs for an extended period of time.
Chew toys stuffed with food are another great way to keep dogs busy when you’re not around, they also effectively direct a dog’s desire to chew towards something appropriate. Toys such as the tough, rubber KONG Classic can be filled with all sorts of food treats like chicken, kibble, cottage cheese. Your dog will settle down and focus on chewing and licking the toy like crazy until they manage to access every bit of food. They come in different sizes and strengths to cater to all puppies and dogs, even really powerful chewers. To keep your dog busy for an extra long time you can put the toy stuffed with food in the freezer overnight.
Don’t forget that treats should form part of your pets daily food ration, they’re not additional. And remember to regularly change toys on a rotating basis to continually entertain and challenge your pet.
Some other ideas to help prevent boredom include
- Place a treasure hunt of kibble around your garden so your dog spends time sniffing out the kibble pieces – encourage them to do this for the first couple of times until they get the hang of it.
- Exercise your dog before you leave the house whenever possible. A tired dog is a calm dog.
- Spend as much time as possible with your pet and always allow your pet to be indoors with you when you are home.
- Consider a dog walker or sending your dog to doggy day care when you’re away for extended periods of time.
With a bit of creativity and planning you can give your dog plenty of jobs to keep them occupied when you’re not around. You might also find they begin to eat more slowly and perhaps even look forward to you leaving for work, because they can’t wait for their tasty treats and fun toys.