Keep your pup busy, while you’re busy

As much as we hate it, we have to leave our pets home alone while we go to work. If you’re anything like me, you feel guilty that you have to leave your dog for hours. So what can you do to keep your pet occupied during the day? Here are a few suggestions that I’ve found helpful.

Bella Claire

Bella Claire is available to adopt!

First, daycare. Yup, just like children, pets can go to daycare. And yes, they can get expensive, but many places offer package options and/or incentives for referring friends. My dog goes to daycare a few times a week. This way, my wallet isn’t sucked dry and my dog is getting good socialization as well as constant supervision, and constant access to water and grass. Here are a few places that I was able to find through a simple google search. I do recommend checking out the facility before signing your pet up to ensure the daycare is up to your standards. Some places are 100% concrete and others keep dogs separated all day. Each dog is different so it’s important to find a place that will fit your budget and your dog’s personality.

Similarly, hiring a dog walker can be a great benefit for dogs who may not socialize well or maybe don’t have high activity level. By hiring a dog walker you can get a more personalized schedule, as well as love and attention that is 100% directed to your dog. Local dog walkers can be found via a internet search, this does require a little more work on your part, but I also recommend using Care.com. Care.com allows you to search through dog walkers in your area and see their resumes, pay requirements and personal schedule.

Note: It also never hurts to get to know the local kids in your community, kids tend to get out of school before the work day ends and you don’t have to pay as much as professional! (speaking as a former after school dog walker).

zelda

Zelda is looking for her forever home!

And finally, a mind stimulating toy or puzzle can keep your dog busy and wear them out! Toys such as a frozen peanut butter filled kong, treat filled puzzle games or even a new toy. A kong can keep my dog busy for an hour or more. I give one to my pup if it’s a rainy day or if I know I won’t make it home for lunch. Once he gets a sniff of the peanut butter, he immediately forgets I’m leaving the house. I recommend buying two kongs, that way one is always in the freezer ready to go. Puzzles also give dogs a good break from the mundane. Figuring out how to move the pieces around in order to get a treat will keep a dog mentally stimulated and out of your hair. You can pick up puzzles from your local pet store like Petco. Another simple idea is to keep a “rainy day toy,” I keep a new toy hidden away for a day where I’m busy or the weather isn’t cooperating. Just breaking out a brand new ball or rope is so exciting for my dog, I can leave him running laps around the house in excitement.

Note: Puzzles and kongs are not recommended for all dogs. If your dog likes to destroy and swallow pieces of toys, it is not recommended to leave your dog unattended with toys or bones.

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Buckle Up!

Does your dog love to ride in the car? Stick his head out the window and sniff all the smells the world has to offer? But have you ever thought what might happen to your dog if you were to slam on the breaks while he was standing on the seat; or worse get in an accident? It’s a scary thought for any animal lover, myself included. But it got me thinking, what is the best way for my dog to ride in the car? Is he really in any danger if he’s laying down?

milo

8yo Milo is looking for a forever home!

According to a Forbes.com article, a 10lb unrestrained animal can exert 300lbs of force when going 30mph during an accident. That’s enough force to send your beloved pet out of the car or worse, in to you. You wouldn’t want to think of your dog as an unrestrained sack of potatoes, but that’s what it could be like if you were to get into an accident.

Unfortunately, the number of safety restraints that work efficiently are quite low. When tested, most restraints snapped, broke at weak points or left the animal with life ending injuries when tested on weighted stuff animals. One of the few restraints that consistently protected the dog as well as others in the car during simulated testing was Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness. The Sleepypod was given a 5 star rating by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS). This restraint works just like a human’s seat belt, it prevents the dog from exiting the car and maintains stability and spine alignment if an accident were to occur.

muppet

Muppet is adoptable and brings his own toys!

For owners of smaller dogs or cats, you might not be comfortable with using a seat belt. Thankfully, the CPS also tested different types of carrier and listed the top performing carriers on their website, found here. It is important to note, that a carrier is only safe if it securely fastened to the car.

Safe Homemade Toys

Anyone who has a dog who is a chewer or a cat that is a shredder, it can be easy to go through toys, fast! A toy might seem new for a day and before you know it, it’s either in pieces from a destructive cat or “boring” from a dog who spent 5 minutes with it. Either way, it’s money down the drain. As an owner of a dog who loves to rip toys apart, I find it impossible to find a reasonably priced toy that won’t be ruined in minutes instead of days. However, over the years and from many internet searches, I have found homemade toy ideas that are almost indestructible. Here are some ideas to keep our pets busy!

A personal favorite of my dog, is knotted fleece chew toy. I first came across these toys from ‘Dalmation DIY‘ and decided to make my own. I bought a few feet of fleece fabric from a local fabric store, in 4 different colors. The instructions in the blog are fairly straight forward and if you buy enough fabric, you can make several! It is important to make tight knots, this way your pet can’t rip it to shreds easily.

Note: you can also do this with a cut up old t-shirt.

freddie

Freddie is available for adoption!

Another simple toy that works great for cats and dogs is the old “treats in a bottle.” This homemade toy is exactly as it sounds; take a plastic bottle, fill it with your pet’s favorite treats and cut a hole just small enough for 1 treat to fall out at a time. I love to do this with my dog, he can’t always tell where the hole is and will pick up the bottle, throw it around and nudge it across the floor until all the treats fall out. This is a great one for rainy days; keeps the nose busy!
Tip: If you don’t have an empty water bottle laying around, a tennis ball or old cardboard box will work.

Finally, here is a mental game to keep your cat’s brain busy. Try making this cardboard tube puzzle from Wish for Pets. Something as simple as a paper towel roll and some treats could keep your cat busy for awhile.