Imagine being stuck at home alone with nothing but your own thoughts for company.
Contained in an environment without television, a games console, mobile phone, board games, a book, or any other form of stimulation.
You would no doubt be climbing the walls and consequently banging your head against them through frustration and boredom.
That’s exactly how it can feel for our adventurous animals when they’re left inside alone while their pet parents are out at work.
They need something to spark their intrigue, a distraction, something to keep their inquisitive minds occupied during a prolonged stretch of isolation.
It can be an emotional and distressing time for our faithful and friendly four-legged friends, who can develop a form of separation anxiety when kept away from their companions.
Why is it important for your dog to stay stimulated while you’re working?
Taking care of a dog’s mental health is just as important as taking care of their physical health. A healthy body and a healthy mind is the key to a long and happy life for our furry family members.
Our pets need to stay as active and as mobile as possible when left alone, as muscles can weaken and atrophy without exercise, while their brain requires regular stimulation to avoid any potential cognitive dysfunctions, depression or severe anxiety.
We as pet parents are like a ‘comfort blanket’ or ‘safety net’ for our precious little pups, so that time apart can be significantly unsettling for them, which can lead to destructive behaviours.
The reason as to why you might return home to a chewed chair leg, a plucked carpet or rug, broken ornaments, or the insides of your recently bought cushions strewn all over the floor, is often down to a lack of stimulation.
Introducing a balanced routine, while finding ways and means of keeping their minds engaged, can help to eliminate these unwanted behavioural traits and promote good behaviour.
A happy dog is a healthy dog, in mind, body and soul. Their mental and physical wellbeing stems from their mood, which is determined by their lifestyle.
Keeping our fur babies invigorated not only allows them to de-stress, it helps lessen hyperactivity by reducing pent up energy, and can also lower levels of aggression.
Your dog can become a bit grumpy when boredom hits and they’re more likely to snap at people and other animals in their vicinity if they’re feeling a little bit down in the dumps.
Help build the best version of your cute and curious canine by doing everything possible to keep that glint in their eye and their tail-wagging. Ensuring that they’re happy and healthy from an early age will set them up for life.
Ways to keep your dog entertained
- Turn on the TV: We’re not expecting your stay-at-home pet to pull out the popcorn and sit watching a series on Netflix all day, but they’ll appreciate the background noise that a television can provide. Tuning into a channel or a programme that features animals could also prove to be a masterstroke as recognisable sounds will keep them captivated.
- White noise or radio: Soothing sounds lead to relaxation. It’s like a home-made doggy spa day, just without the pools, jacuzzis and treatments. White noise helps create a calming environment, providing an opportunity for your dog to unwind and remain stress-free. Most households now have the technology to play these sounds, which can reduce agitation. Alternatively, choose a radio station that hits the right notes for their mental wellbeing.
- Pre-work walks: Spending some quality time together in the morning has a wealth of benefits. The outdoors can stimulate different sensory receptors in the brain that promote cognitive health while ensuring that your fun-loving furry friend is getting the best possible start to the day. Going out for walks also means they’re getting their daily dose of exercise and provides them with an opportunity to ‘do their business’ to negate the risk of accidents in the house. Shaving their energy levels also works wonders because a tired dog is generally a well-behaved one.
- Invest in a pet cam: These gadgets are a handy way to keep tabs on your sometimes troublesome terriers while maintaining that line of communication and engagement with them. Checking in with your pets every now and again via two-way audio features is comforting and reassuring for them and it also gives you the peace of mind that they’re safe, well and behaving. Some cameras are also set up with treat dispensers, which is an added bonus.
- Toys: One of the tried and tested methods for keeping your dogs occupied are treats like a stuffed Kong, bones and other playful paraphernalia. However, thought provoking toys that boost brain power are also available. Many treat-based objects pose a challenge for your clever canines, who will be rewarded when eventually figuring out the puzzle. It’s like sudoku for your pet, or a wordsearch, only with fewer words and numbers, though equally as entertaining and time-consuming.
- Chews and treats: Dental chews are a tasty and entertaining alternative to keeping your furry friends occupied. They can promote oral and mental health at the same time while providing your dogs with a distraction as you attack your working day. Long-lasting treats, such as stuffable toys, with edible centres, are also a viable option. They’re full-of-flavour and a tasty treat for the tummy as well as the mind.
Don’t make your home feel like a prison
Keeping your prized pets stimulated throughout the day is the secret to a happy and long-lasting life. Health is wealth for our dogs — both physically and mentally — and keeping them in tip-top condition on both fronts helps them thrive.
A lack of regular stimulants, especially when left alone, would feel like a punishment for your pet, as if they were being imprisoned in their own home. This would ultimately have negative ramifications on their cognitive development, affect their mood, cause stress, anxiety, depression and other potential mental health issues.
Boredom and grumpiness can cause your once relaxed and laid back best mate to become uncharacteristically aggressive, and it can trigger bad behavioural traits such as excessive barking, chewing or biting.
Exercising the mind, as well as the heart, will keep tails wagging and brains functioning, which is beneficial for all parties involved.