With NSW looking to start relaxing social distancing restrictions, we may soon be heading back to work! Having spent the past few months with you, receiving endless pats and attention, your dog will soon face hours of alone time at home. While we always advise against dogs spending long stretches of time alone, sometimes it‘s just unavoidable, and for some, this means one thing: boredom.
Greyhounds are generally relaxed by nature, with many happy to snore the day away while you are at work. But all dogs, greys included, can get bored, resulting in behaviour such as pining, barking or chewing the remote control. Keeping them occupied during their alone time is just as important as cuddling them on the couch when you get home.
There are many reasons why we want to avoid boredom in our pets. According to Pet Care Consultant Liz Walden, avoiding boredom “helps cut down on a pet’s destructive tendencies”. Any dog has a natural interest in keeping itself active and entertained, and if it doesn’t have a constructive outlet, such as going for walks or playing with toys, it may act out by digging holes, tearing up furniture or trying to escape its yard. “Training can assist in curbing these tendencies in most dogs, but making sure they have a healthy outlet for their boredom is the best way to keep them happy and safe.”
So, what can you do to keep your dog busy while you’re out working hard to keep them in kibble? Here are nine great boredom busters to try now. A quick note, whatever you choose, always ensure you have plenty of fresh drinking water available for your dog too!
- Tire them out:This one is a no-brainer. Help your pooch burn up his energy reserves before you leave for work in the morning by going for a run together or heading to a dog beach or park – most are nice and quiet in the early hours. Let him run and chase to his heart’s content (weather permitting, of course). A dog that’s tuckered out from exercise is more likely to rest longer once you leave. Check out our list of Sydney dog beaches.
- Make a giant ice block:This is a great one for a hot day. Freeze chunks of carrot and apple in water in an old ice cream container, resulting in a supersized ice block. Give this to your hound to allow them to lick their way to the goodies, keeping busy and cool at the same time.
- Grab a rubber KONGs:These terrific enrichment toys are hardy and entertaining, keeping dogs’ minds and tongues active. Stuff them with peanut butter, roast chicken, kibble, sardines – you can even freeze them for longer-lasting fun. A KONG is a great challenge to keep boredom at bay. Find some great stuffing recipes here!
- Try a food puzzle:If your dog is food motivated, food puzzles are your new best friend. There are several available – from the hide and slide type to treat-dispensing balls – all requiring different doggie techniques to sniff out the tasty treats within. You’ll find some options here.
- Sniff out a snuffle mat:Ok, these are technically a food puzzle as well, but these babies are a game-changer! Offering excellent mental stimulation for your dog, they comprise a rubber mat with soft fleece tied through it. Hide kibble and other dry treats inside to make your pet sniff, snuffle and hunt for their reward. And best of all you can make one yourself!
- Build them a sandpit: Is your doggo a digger? Beat them at their own game by providing them with a purpose-built place to dig to their heart’s content (without upending your rose bushes!) You can even hide a few treats beneath the surface to get them started. Clam-shell pools are an inexpensive option if you don’t wish to build your own (and a summertime swim in a doggie pool is another refreshing boredom buster to add to your arsenal).
- Rotate your dog’s toys:It’s easy to get bored when you’re presented with the same things every single day. Change up your pet’s toys, removing yesterday’s and rotating them with new ones to keep things fresh and interesting.
- Arrange a puppy playdate:Does your pupper have a best friend? Why not have them hang out together during the day? They’ll keep each other occupied and hopefully wear each other out for a good night’s sleep.
- Arrange a dog walker: As great as they are, no toy quite replaces human contact, so if you can afford it, hiring a dog walker is the best option. Not only will they break up the day for your furry friend, giving them socialisation, a change of scenery and a cardio hit, they can also ensure everything is OK at home, giving you invaluable peace of mind. You may even be able to negotiate something with a neighbour or friend to save money.