As clever as they are, dogs just can't seem to understand the concept of working from home. Your pet doesn't realize that if he doesn't let you work in peace, there might not be food in his bowl, treats in the treat box, and he can forget about that new toy he's been eying at the pet store. So what's a harried pet owner to do? Well, here are 9 strategies to keep your pup occupied and out of your next Zoom meeting!
1. Make Breakfast More Interesting
Give your hungry pup some of her breakfast in her food bowl and the rest in a puzzle ball. These interactive 'dishes' randomly dribble out kibble a piece or three at a time as your dog rolls the ball around with her nose.
Just don't let her watch you fill it and especially don't let her watch you screw the cap back in. Even if your clever pup doesn't manage to unscrew the cap, she's apt to mangle it in her quest for a shortcut!
Not only does a ball like this keep Lucy engaged with her breakfast longer, but it can help prevent health problems caused by wolfing her food too quickly. Gagging, hacking, belching, and vomiting after meals are common results of gobbling food. Choking and bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GVD) can both be potentially life-threatening consequences of gulping kibble.
2. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
A dog that gets enough exercise will snooze a good part of the day while you're working. A run or even a good long walk before or after work is good for both of you. So is a vigorous game of fetch during breaks.
In an article on the Chewy.com blog, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, explains that lack of exercise leads to anxiety and destructive behavior from our dogs. As she puts it, "Because exercise decreases anxiety overall, lack of exercise can contribute to anxiety-based conditions. More specifically, lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to attention-seeking and destructive behaviors."
So, if you don't want your anxious pet spending his time whining and scratching at your office door, or disassembling your couch for lack of anything better to do, make sure he gets enough exercise every day!
3. A Puzzling Situation
There are interactive toys that require your dog to solve a puzzle in order to reach the treat inside. This might be just the distraction you need during an important phone call! It helps to have a library of these puzzles available, so you can switch them out regularly. Not only will this keep Spot interested and engaged, but it might buy you a bit more uninterrupted time.
If he has this puzzle-solving business down pat, try setting up several types of puzzles at once. This makes the game more challenging by requiring him to think harder and switch solving modes between puzzles.
4. Treat Your Pup to a Spa Day or a Visit with Doggie Friends
If you have a really important upcoming Zoom meeting, clients coming to your home, or a vital deadline to meet, consider treating your pet to a day out. A trip to the groomer's, a playdate with a friend's pooch, a dog walker, or doggie daycare are all possibilities for when you simply can't afford any four-legged interruptions.
5. Keep Your Freezer Full of Pupsicles
Get several toys like Kongs that can be stuffed with yumminess and keep them stuffed and bagged up in your freezer. Try stuffing them with a combination of baby foods — yes, baby foods! Mix pureed carrots, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, and/or pureed meat with oat or rice cereal until it's a thick paste. Then smear it liberally inside the Kong and freeze.
The nice thing about using baby food is that most of the prep work is already done and you can easily offer your pet a variety of healthy flavors. Baby food is also unlikely to upset a pooch with a sensitive stomach. And trust us, your dog will really enjoy a pupsicle on a warm day!
If you'd prefer stuffing your dog's Kongs with a more traditional treat like peanut butter, make sure you avoid any containing xylitol. Since this is a natural form of sugar, even some 'natural' peanut butter contains it. Always read the label! The vets at the Pet Poison Helpline warn that even small amounts of xylitol are often deadly to dogs.
6. Play Hide & Seek
Put your dog on a down-stay, hide, and then call her to you. Reward her with lots of praise when she finds you. This is great mental stimulation for your dog — as long as you don't make it too easy for her to find you!
Play this quick and easy game every time you get a cup of coffee, visit the bathroom, or just need to stretch sore muscles. Your pup will never get tired of the surprise and interaction.
7. Allow Your Pet Some TV Time
Many pets are intrigued by watching other animals on TV. So put on his favorite Animal Planet show and let your dog be a couch potato for a while. Watching animals on TV is almost as interesting as watching that dastardly squirrel outside the window, but with less incentive to bark. The exception is a show featuring wolves. Few dogs can resist the temptation to howl along with their wild relatives!
8. Play Soothing Music
Surprisingly, many dogs enjoy listening to music. Your pooch prefers calming music that features simple melodies and only a few instruments. There are lots of CDs and playlists available with pup-approved music. There's even a YouTube channel called Relax My Dog.
If you want to create a custom playlist for your pet, just remember these tips:
- Dogs prefer pure tones and higher frequencies.
- Choose music that features longer notes and a regular rhythm.
- A tempo that matches the dog's resting heart rate will help him stay calmer.
Dogs also enjoy listening to classical music. Playing it for your dog can result in less barking and more restful sleep.
9. Create a 'Busy Bucket' for Your Pooch
Put a biscuit on the bottom of a bucket, top it with a favorite dog toy, cover everything with an old towel, show it to your dog, and praise him when he shows interest in it. To make it even more fun (and challenging!), you can add multiple layers of treats and toys and weave the towel back and forth between the layers. Then hide it somewhere for him to find. He'll enjoy both the hunt and uncovering all those layers of goodies.
If you're utilizing lots of treats to keep your pet occupied during working hours, make sure he's getting enough exercise to burn off those extra calories! Our dog blog is full of fun ideas for exercising with your dog. Check it out and send us a woof if you have questions!