As kids head back to school and some of us start returning to our offices, it can seem nice to get some sort of normality back. This isn’t such great news for our dogs, though, who have been enjoying undivided attention from everyone in the house for the past few months.
If your dog needs to start spending a little more time on their own, you’ll need to ease them into it slowly so they don’t get anxious or upset. You can find out more about separation anxiety in dogs on our blog.
One way to help ease your dog into being a little more independent again is to give them some activities to keep them distracted and entertained. We’ve put together some of our top ideas:
Toys like Kongs which you can stuff full of your dog’s food and some tasty treats are real boredom busters and great for keeping your pooch occupied. Popping it in the freezer is a great way to help their treat last longer (and cool them down if it’s a warmer day).
If your dog has wet food, simply spoon it in and top with a little dog-safe peanut butter (make sure there’s no xylitol or chocolate in it). If your dog has biscuits, mix them with water until they’re soft enough to crush into a paste then pop that in your dog’s Kong. Again, top with a little dog-safe peanut butter. We’d recommend wrapping your dog’s Kong in cling film before freezing to stop any leakage but remember to remove the cling film and leave it to stand for five minutes out of the freezer before giving it to your dog!
Snuffle mats are ideal for dogs who enjoy sniffing out their food. They’re simple to make at home or you can buy them online. To make a snuffle mat, all you need are some strips of material and a rubber mat with holes in (like a shower mat or outdoor rubber mat). Tie the strips through each of the holes, making sure they’re secure, then hide food in amongst the fabric (TJ is demonstrating how he uses his above!).
Don’t have the equipment/time to make a snuffle mat? Don’t worry! A snuffle roll is nice and easy to make with a towel and some of your dog’s biscuits (or a few tasty treats). Check out our video above for our easy tutorial on how to make a snuffle roll for your dog!
Hide and seek
If you’re in the house but can’t give your pup all your attention, or you just want to persuade them to do something on their own for a while, try hiding treats or toys around the house. Start by popping a few toys under a blanket for them to dig out and slowly start putting them in different places for your dog to find (make sure wherever you hide them is safe and easy for your dog to get to without hurting themselves or making a mess of your things!). It might take a couple of days before you can start moving their toys around so they don’t get confused, but give it time.
You can even make dinner time more fun (and last longer) for your dog with a slow feeder! These feeding bowls are ideal for dogs who eat a little too fast as they slow them down. They also give your dog something to focus on for a little while so you can get on with other things, rather than guzzling their food down and rushing to find you.
Remember, if you’re using something food-related to keep your dog occupied, you’ll need to take it out of their daily food allowance so they don’t pile on the pounds. You can also use some healthy treats – check out our list of dog-safe fruit and veg for a healthy treat alternative!