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Busy? How to Work Your Dog’s Body and Brain
How can you work your dog’s body and brain on busy days when there’s barely time to eat lunch? These three no-fail ideas come to the rescue.
Just like humans, our dogs are wired for movement, as well as for mental stimulation. But we know that nearly every dog owner encounters days (or sometimes weeks!), when their favorite dog life activities fall by the wayside.
Unfortunately, that can create a perfect storm of boredom and stress for our dogs. And that’s not just unhealthy; with no way to let off steam, they can start to get frustrated, stressed out… and search for trouble!
If you don’t want your shoes, yard or other possessions to take a hit, you need to find a solution.
We’ve got three no-fail ideas for those days when you just can’t squeeze another minute out of the day for the long walk or game of frisbee that your dog thrives on. (A bonus benefit: mixing up the activities can actually be a big plus, helping to work your dog’s body and brain in a different way.)
Toss their favorite toy upstairs several times. Mix it up by tossing it only a few steps up the first time, then halfway, then 3/4 and finally all the way. Be sure to let them rest in between if this is new for them. 5 minutes might be more than enough! The added concentration and effort of climbing will use up a good deal of energy.
When they return the last time, give them a toy they like to chew actively for a little while—a dog-safe chew or bone—to let them calm down and work off any remaining energy.
You may already have a Kong—the classic toy that can hide a treat inside—but there are some other options able to keep even the cleverest of canines busy. These are easy and quick to set up, but many can provide your pup with fascination for far longer.
- If a fenced-in yard is available, take tiny treats and quickly scatter them, tucking them into the grass. Let your dog go on a search-and-find mission; this activity helps bring out your dog’s natural sniffing instincts.
- Or, consider a toy that creates a similar challenge like the a snuffle mat, or the Pickle Pocket. The soft “pickled” surface has slots into which you can stuff kibble and other tiny treats.
Arrange for Company to Work Your Dog’s Body and Brain on Busy Days
There are a few ways to go here, depending on how long you’ll be off your routine and what sort of budget’s available.
- If this is a just-for-today issue, leaving the television or radio on will give your dog a little “company.” It won’t bring exercise, but it may offer some distraction. Add a new chew and/or comfort toy to extend the engagement.
- If it’s a busy period in life, but not every day, consider swapping play-date time with a friend or neighbor. They can bring their dog over for a play date when you’re swamped, you do the same when they’re busy.
- If it’s a longer-term situation—e.g., you’ve been working from home, but now need to go back to the office or job most days—you may want to book something steadier, like time at a canine day camp, or 2-week Enrichment Camp, (of course we offer both types at College for Pets!).
Expert tip: since you know its inevitable that a day will come when you have to skip your routine, prepare ahead. Keep a few supplies on hand so you’ll be able to make the switch from a normal to alternate activity.
These tried-and-true tips will help work your dog’s body and brain indoors, or when you’re too busy for your normal exercise and play routines. Dogs absolutely thrive on our company and our love—but the truth is we’re healthier and happier when our dogs play a bigger role in our lives, too!