Most of us have to work for a living, which means that we spend anywhere from 4-12 hours a day away from the house while our dogs stay behind. It’s BORING to stare at the same four walls all day, every day. Even dogs that have access to a yard will often get bored because they are in the SAME yard all the time. Dogs who are bored tend to develop destructive and annoying behaviours such as excessive barking, chewing, and digging. These dogs aren’t trying to “punish” their humans for leaving them alone all day; they are just trying to entertain themselves and relieve their boredom. Also, many of these dogs are so excited to see us when we get home that they can be overwhelming, and frankly, a little unpleasant to be around because of they want to jump up to greet us, run around the house, and sometimes knock things over in their excitement.
So how do you prevent your dog from getting so bored that he finds his own way to entertain himself? Get him some interactive toys!
Interactive toys are basically puzzles. They are brain teasers that will challenge your dog’s problem solving skills and give him an outlet for his pent up mental and physical energy. Interactive toys come in many different varieties, so there is sure to be one that will catch your dog’s attention, no matter what his preferences are. Some interactive toys bounce and move erratically each time your dog picks them up and then drops them. The unpredictable nature of the movement will engage your dog’s chase instincts and always keep him guessing about where his “prey” is going to go next. Other interactive toys will dispense food or other, smaller toys. The “prize” dispensing toys have different compartments that you can open and fill with some of your dog’s food or his favourite toy. It’s your dog’s job to figure out how to manipulate the toy in order to get the food to fall out or get the compartment to open to get the good stuff out.
Preparing an interactive toy or two for your dog to work on each day before you leave for work is really easy, and will make the time pass a lot more quickly for your dog while he’s waiting for you to get back home from work. It’s a good idea to get a couple of different toys and rotate them every day to keep them fresh – if you give your dog the same toy every day, the novelty will wear off and you are back to square one. The challenge of figuring out the toy will give your dog something interesting to do and help to break up some of the monotony of being home alone. Furthermore, by the time that he’s done with the toy most dogs have expended enough energy that they don’t feel the need to engage in those destructive or annoying behaviours that were mentioned earlier. In fact, many dogs are ready for a nap after they finish with their toy!
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that many of the breeds that we love today were actually developed to do something besides keep us company on the couch. However, just because we don’t always ask our dogs to perform the work that they were bred to do, doesn’t mean that the desire to do something mentally and physically challenging goes away completely. Interactive toys will provide a fun and appropriate outlet for your dog’s physical and mental energy, and you get to come home to a happy, agreeable dog after a long day!