Many dog owners feel guilty about leaving their furry friends at home while they go to work.
To ease your remorse, this article helps you figure out how to keep your dog entertained while at work.
Use one or more of these tricks to keep your pup occupied until you return home!
Table of Contents
1. Treat-Dispensing Toys
Treat-dispensing toys are one of the most common methods for keeping puppies busy while their owners go to work. You can explore the many treat-dispensing toys on the market and choose one that appeals to you, or buy a few and figure out which entertains your dog the most.
Some are hollow balls that dispense a treat periodically as the dog plays. There are also puzzle games that will mentally stimulate your dog and reward them with a treat.
2. Shows or Movies
Many people enjoy having background noise throughout their day, and dogs can be the same. If you’re still wondering how to keep your dog entertained while at work, you can leave a TV show on for your dog or play a movie.
Try to find casual nature shows where dogs can watch birds fly around or little critters scamper to hold their attention.
3. Music or Podcasts
Music can provide some background noise for dogs, which will help them not get too stressed while alone. But podcasts are usually better, as their brains can better process human language than music. Find soft-spoken podcasts or gentle music that won’t startle or irritate them.
Podcasts are also easier to play all day than your TV, as streaming services often stop the streaming after so many episodes.
4. Hide Toys or Treats
Curious dogs can stay busy if you hide some yummy treats or their favorite toys around the house. Shove toys between your couch cushions or wrap treats up in blankets for them to find. Try to choose smelly objects and hide them where your dog can reach them.
Don’t put things on the counter, as this can lead to poor behavior. But placing toys on your low coffee table, under your bed covers, or underneath the dog’s bed can keep them busy for a few hours.
5. Tire Them Out
What better way to keep your dog busy than have them sleep? If you have enough time in the morning, try to take them on an extra long walk or do some intense playtime that will tucker them out before you head out.
They likely won’t sleep through your entire work day but can snooze for a few hours. Pair this technique with one of the other suggestions on this list to fill their day!
6. Let Them People Watch
This method for keeping your dog entertained is not ideal for high-anxiety dogs or dogs who tend to bark incessantly. But for dogs who enjoy casually looking outside, ensure you leave a window uncovered so that they can look out.
Create a comfy spot for them to monitor the neighborhood. Many dogs feel it is their job to guard the castle, so looking out the window is their version of standing guard, and can keep them occupied all day long.
7. Pet Monitors
Thanks to technology, you can say “hey” to your pet in the middle of the day! Your ability to do this likely depends on what type of job you have. But pet cameras and monitors, like Petcube, allow you to video chat with your pet.
Some dogs won’t respond to this, but if your dog tends to look at screens, they may come over to say hello to you! A check-in from their beloved owner can stimulate them and help the day go faster until you can be reunited.
8. Stuffed Kongs
Kongs are one of the most popular brands of dog toys. They make plenty of toys that you can stuff with peanut butter or cheese to keep your dog busy for a while. These hard rubber toys have funny-shaped cavities that require your dog to lick in odd ways to try and get the treat.
Explore Kong’s website to see what they offer, and pick up dog-safe peanut butter or cheese spray to give your dog a tasty distraction when you have to head to work.
9. White Noise
If music, TV, podcasts, and movies don’t appeal to your dog, you can use a white noise machine or run a fan to drown out external noises that may bother them.
If barking dogs, traffic sounds, or birds chirping send your dog into a frenzy of anxiety, white noise can limit the stressful sounds they hear. Like humans, white noise can also lull dogs to sleep, keeping them calm even when alone.
10. Introduce a New Toy
Many dog owners notice that the first day with a new toy can keep their dog engaged for hours. Their old toys may not keep them as busy, but a new toy will distract them for a while.
You can’t do this every day, or you’d spend all your money on toys. Along with infrequent new toy purchases, you can remove some of their toys and rotate them, so they feel new to the dog when you whip them out!
11. Frozen Treats
Many owners use lick mats and rubber mats with nooks and crannies to smear peanut butter or cheese.
You can use these at room temperature, but when you pop the mats in the freezer overnight, it can provide hours of licking for your pup. You can also create homemade treatsicles by freezing a hunk of peanut butter or soft treats together.
12. Doggy Daycare
If you feel particularly guilty about leaving your dog because you have super long workdays, you can enroll them in doggy daycare! While this is one of the more expensive ways to keep your dog entertained while you’re at work, it’s one of the most stimulating.
At doggy daycare, your dog will be supervised and socialized with other dogs. Dogs who get separation anxiety are the best candidates for doggy daycare. They can make friends, exercise, and play while you’re at work.
13. Dog Walker
A slightly more affordable alternative to doggy daycare is dog walking services. You can hire a professional dog walker to walk your dog while you’re at work. Doing this helps your dog get more exercise and breaks up the day for them.
They also get some midday human interaction, which most dogs would appreciate. Some dog-walking businesses also offer “hang-outs,” where someone can go to your house and play or snuggle with your dog for a predetermined amount of time.
14. Calming Treats
Super anxious or high-energy dogs can benefit from calming treats. Calming treats come in many forms, from tinctures to treats to kibble.
Some use melatonin, the brain chemical that helps humans and dogs sleep. But for an extra calm day, you can give your dog CBD treats that will chill them out and hopefully help them snooze until you return from work.
15. Another Pet
If you have the space, energy, and finances to adopt a second pet, this can be a wonderful way to reduce the guilt you feel when leaving your dog alone.
If you get another dog or maybe a cat, they will have each other when you leave for work. Don’t make rash decisions, but if you’ve considered another animal and hate leaving your dog alone, another pet may be the solution.
16. Slow Chew Treats
Most treats you give to your dog are gone in seconds. But you can buy slow chew treats that can keep them busy for hours.
The best options are beef knee caps, elk antlers, nylon chews, rawhide bones, and pig ears. Many of these probably sound gross to you, but your dog will love gnawing on one.
17. Stimulating Toys
For dogs with a weight problem, you shouldn’t use food dispensing or treat dispensing toys, as this can ruin a diet. However, there are still stimulating toys that move on their own or make funny sounds to keep your dog entertained. They may even have lights to get your dog’s attention!
For intelligent breeds, look for fun puzzle toys that mentally challenge them. Choose simpler toys if your dog isn’t the smartest.
18. Food Toys
If your dog loves their kibble, but it only takes them a few minutes to eat, you can drag out their meal time with food toys and products that make it harder for your dog to chow down.
One of the best choices is a snuffle mat—a fabric mat with lots of flaps, nooks, crannies, and places to hide your dog’s kibble. Your dog will have to sniff and search for their kibble.
Now that you know how to keep your dog entertained while at work, consider what toys, treats, or distractions your dog will engage with the most, and try some of these techniques!
While most humans have no choice but to work, it’s still hard to say goodbye to those puppy eyes. A peanut butter-stuffed Kong or silly puzzle toy can make it easier on both of you!