How to keep your dog entertained while at work

Dogs have been companions to humans for centuries. As a result, they became very similar to us with regard to the need for social interaction. 

When you own a dog and work long shifts, you’re forced to leave your beloved pets alone at home for hours. 

Confused businessman checking time on wristwatch

Canine behavior expert Emily Blackwell notes that the less dog owners spent time with their dogs, the more likely the dogs were to suffer from one or more of 22 behavioral problems. The tips included throughout this page have been collated to try and help doggie parents prevent unwanted dog behavior.

Knowing how to keep dogs entertained while at work is one of the things a wannabe dog parent needs to consider before getting a puppy.  

A popular question amongst pet parents who have to work long hours is how long can I leave my dog alone?  The majority of fully developed dogs should not go more than 6 hours before having a toilet break. How often a dog needs to go is largely dependent on the age of your dog. You can find the full details from the post titled How Long Can A Dog Be Left Alone?

Select the right breed. 

The large breeds not only need a lot of space, but most of them are bred for hunting or protection and they need their daily training sessions. 

Terrier breeds are the right size but left inside for hours can cause unwanted behavior. So If you like your interior design be sure to get a dog that can easily adapt to living in an apartment. Such is Pug, Japanese’s spits, Poodle and Miniature Schnauzer. There are many books available online as well as fun online quizzes that can help you make a decision about the breed of dog to get or learn about the traits of the breed of dog you own.

Once you get a puppy, work on his social interaction with other dogs.

After his vaccination protocol is over, your puppy is ready to make some new friends. As  Rolan Tripp , a veterinarian and animal behaviorist explained,

Tri-color Beagle and West Highland White Terrier Puppies Playing on Lawn Grass

The point of daycare and dog park is that they are part of developing emotional stability and flexibility as well as preventing separation anxiety. 


Prepare your puppy to be comfortable with being alone.

Make sure to leave the room when your pappy has something to do and limit the attention he gets shortly before leaving. Do not enter the room if your dog is whining or barking.

dog relaxing on the floor with his ball

Wait until he quits and then go back into the room. Start with just a few minutes at the time and then gradually increase the time spent alone. There are many useful tips available online that can help you prepare your pet for being left alone.

Ways to mentally stimulate your dog when he is home alone

Every dog is unique. While some like to spend their time watching TV on the couch, others especially young ones, prefer their toys and the company of other dogs. You have the responsibility of discovering what best suits your dog. 

Burst your dog’s boredom with fun things to do

You’ll find that canines and humans have more in common than you thought. Lik humans are one of the few species of mammal that continue to play into adulthood. Dogs also possess this characteristic. There are a lot of dog toys, practical tricks, and games that can keep your dog entertained.

A Dog Indoors surrounded by toys

Dogs are very food motivated animals and they’re natural scavengers, so having to work for food isn’t mean or unusual — it’s normal and mentally stimulating for them. 

  • Chose some toys for your dog to play with

Using dog toys are perfect to keep your dog entertained while at work. He will need a couple of them, so he doesn’t get bored playing with the same one every day. You can hide some of them. When your dog forgets about them, introduce them as a new toy. A good toy to introduce is a chew toy. This will serve multiple purposes in that a chew toy can help your dog maintain good dental hygiene whilst also keeping him occupied.

  • Puzzles are great mental stimulation for dogs home alone

Problem-solving and mental stimulation are very important parts of your dog’s everyday life. Introduce him to a puzzle game while you are with him. Help him at first until he understands that there is a treat when he gets the things right. When left alone he will be more comfortable doing this by themselves. This will make your dog spend the same amount of time collecting his favorite treats. And more importantly, a puzzle can provide mental stimulation for dogs home alone,

  • Make a homemade puzzle for your dog

Muffin tin treat game is a very simple yet effective game.  That can be created with a muffin tin, some doggie treats, and tennis balls. You’ll need to first break apart the dog treats into a few small pieces and place them into muffin cups.  Next, you’ll need to place the tennis balls into the muffin cups to hide the dog treats.  Your dog will be mentally stimulated and encouraged to use its doggie senses. 

  • Put a dental chew in a block of ice for your dog  to play with

Place your dog’s dental chews or treats in an ice-cream container, fill with water, and freeze. You can also freeze a toy.  It takes time for it to melt and your dog will have something to be occupied by until the desired object becomes available.

  • Play a game of find the treats

Try doing this when you are both at home. Hide some treats around your house and let your dog see you do it.  After you’re sure that your dog understands what “find the treats” mean, you can make it a bit more challenging. Have him stay in another room as you hide the treats, but hide them in the same place. When he gets more confident in this game, start hiding them in new places around the home. 

  • Use toys stuffed with food

Stuffed toys are one of the most used products for keeping dogs entertained because they’re so easy to prepare.  A suggestion would be to try freezing your dog’s favorite treats or peanut butter. This will keep your dog mentally active and curious whilst giving him a tasty reward for his efforts. If you’re not sure what to use here’s a list of treats that are great for toy stuffing.  A frozen toy stuffed with tasty treats will last 30+ minutes for most dogs but it can last longer if you fill it completely.  

  • Try to use food dispensing ball

 This is a good solution for young and active dogs. The balls can be different sizes and you can fill them with a few treats or with the entire meal. A treat-dispensing ball occupies a dog’s time. It makes them eat more slowly, satisfy their instinctual urges, and provide mental stimulation. 

  • Get your dog a special TV program

Some dogs just don’t care for TV, because it doesn’t engage a dog’s sense of smell, which is their most acute sense by far.   Liz Langley , national geography writer notes that “Channels that feature animals might be preferable to news programs, but, like many humans, dogs often just half-watch TV anyway”. Most likely your pet will be interested in watching other dogs, but he might not be too happy about the barking sounds. That is why the soundtrack on a “dog’s program” is usually soothing classical music.  You can sample it for your own dog on the dog’s TV program and see how it works for him.

  • Open your curtains wide

 Dogs love exploring the outside world. Looking out of the window helps them socialize with the world they live in.

Provide them with a good company while you are at work

Nicola Rooney, a dog behavioral expert from Bristol University believes that dogs have been conditioned by humans to interact and be playful and this means that “lengthy periods of time that a dog is alone can trigger aggression, anxiety, pulling on the lead, not coming when called and whining.

Two Adult Dogs Looking at Gate

If your pet is not able to entertain himself alone at home, you must consider getting him a company. 

  • Organize  a doggie play date

Playdates are a good way for them to release excess energy and exercise as they socialize. Dogs should be Socialized with dogs of similar temperaments, energy levels, and play styles. In order to prevent injury dogs should also be matched in size and energy levels,  as larger dogs can unintentionally hurt smaller sized dogs or puppies. Meet for the first time in neutral territory. The best way to start with playdates is with a familiar dog and a family member or a friend. Make sure your dog feels safe. Later you can try with a neighbor, coworker, and people you meet at the park. There are a lot of local services that provide this kind of service (pet trainers and pet groomers). There are apps such as Meet up which can connect you with other pet owners who are experiencing the same issues.

  • Enroll your dog in doggy daycare or hire a dog walker

Daycare can be a good solution if your dog gets along with other dogs. For senior dogs with a health issue, this can be a good solution as well. Most of the daycare services have experienced professionals that will provide quality and personalized care for your dog. Make sure to do your research and pick the one that best meets your dog’s needs. There are also a lot of services near you that employ experienced and trained individuals to walk your dog as many as the time you want during a day. 

  • Consider getting your dog a sibling

If you are considering getting a new dog, proceed cautiously. If your dog usually enjoys other dogs’ company, then most likely he’ll love to have a new brother or a sister. This idea often does not work if your dog has separation anxiety, because the new dog may mimic his behavior. If you do decide to get a new dog, make sure to introduce them on neutral territory. It’s not advisable to leave them alone together before they’ve agreed on their territories and feeding schedules.

Final Thoughts 

Being a parent comes with many challenges and these challenges may present overwhelming if you are becoming a pet parent for the first time. Dog-parent guilt is a real thing, no matter how much time you spend with your dog. You must know that just by reading this kind of content and by educating yourself on how to keep your dog happy, you are doing more than enough. 

Quoting Dr. Emily Blackwell said:

“Leaving dogs alone should be a normal experience for both owners and their pets, and shouldn’t be something to worry about. Dogs are perfectly fine staying home alone for a while. Just be sure to arrange adequate entertainment and a comfortable environment.”


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