If you are looking for ways to help your dog battle boredom, the following article offers some suggestions. If you’re interested in writing a guest article about a specific topic, contact us. Here is the information we’ve posted on our advertising information page about these kinds of articles:
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The following guest article is written by Emma Wikstrom.
As we enter into another week of the stay at home order we are all trying to battle our boredom while still remaining inside for the benefit of our community health. That boredom can easily be passed on to our dogs! With many of us working from home our pups have had to readjust to having us home more often, but not necessarily being available for play during work hours. On top of that as we look ahead to future days of healthy vacations and returning to our normal work locations we must again think of our dogs and their well being.
A previous article about getting out with your pup and discovering new places to walk you and your dog still rings true! At an average pace, you are able to cover about 2 miles in an hour. That is a great starting point for most dogs to make sure they are burning some energy and getting to explore their surroundings. It goes without saying that it is also great for your health and well being as well! In reading the Stay At Home Order walking, hiking, biking and all other outdoor activities that allow you to follow the 6ft rule are not only allowed, but encouraged!
While walking your dog is wonderful, it is not like you can do that all the time! Whether you are working from home or doing other things around the house and you need your dog occupied there are also options for that! Online and in pet stores (many are still open during the order) you can find all sorts of puzzle toys or toys you can stuff with food and treats that make your dog use their mind to figure it out and get their reward!
For particularly energetic breeds investing in a few different plastic puzzle toys and using that as your dog’s normal food dish is suggested! You can do this in batches by either taking their wet food and filling the containers in the toy and freezing it until feeding time, no need to thaw, or by mixing their dry food with water or chicken stock and following the same procedure. It is suggested to find one that is easy to clean and some are even dishwasher safe! If your dog only likes to eat dry kibble, snuffle mats are a fun way for your dog to search for the food bit by bit! It is surprising how a dog can physically tire out if you give them something that is mentally challenging and engaging.
Filling Kong toys or other treat-dispensing toys with kibble or dog-safe peanut butter, beware of artificial sugars, is another way to get your dog’s mind working and keep them from bugging you! Just be sure to choose something that will be easy to thoroughly clean and disinfect. Finally, you can support local businesses like our own Gary’s Meat Market or Starbard Farm and purchase raw bones they have in stock. These are great crate treats or boredom busters for your daily life. Raw bones are safe for dogs as it is cooked bones that you need to avoid since they splinter once cooked and can be very dangerous. The raw bones also promote dental health and help scrape plaque from your dog’s teeth as they chew.
Daydreaming of a healthier future is a great way to pass the time and keep a positive outlook! If you are planning a vacation or looking forward to returning to your normal work environment, we still need to keep our pet’s needs in mind. Doggy Day Care is a booming industry in the Greater Grand Rapids area but do all dogs need it? In the author’s opinion, the answer is a resounding no. While there are breeds that generally thrive in this environment many would be much happier at home, even if that means being in a kennel with a bone while you are away. Much like previous thoughts on dog parks, there is something to be said about avoiding putting dogs in environments that are out of the immediate control of their owners. There is always the unknown of what dogs are going to be there, how will they interact and maintain a pack dynamic, and how the playgroups will be monitored. If left at home it is very likely that, your dog would just curl up in a bed with their favorite toy and happily sleep most of the day away until you return home. This can be especially true if your dog is getting quality exercise when you are home.
All food for thought, but consider that while home alone your dogs are in their own territory, there is no uncertainty in where they are, where their water, toys and other resources are and that you will be home eventually. Like most pets, dogs thrive when there is routine and consistency. With daycare that can all go out the window, seeing and being cared for by different workers every day and possibly being in a playgroup with dogs they just do not enjoy. It is a sad fact that you only have to do a quick search online to see thousands of articles detailing injuries sustained at doggy daycare facilities.
Some dogs truly love this environment, Goldens, Labs, and other dogs bred to be passed between handlers/hunters since the dawn of their breed generally do well. Being in a new territory and around new people can be generally less stressful. Others like German Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Terriers (of any sort) and other dogs that are more territorial or have nervous tendencies are breeds may not do as well in daycare services. These breeds typically are bonded tightly with their people and were developed to stay and guard their own territory. Taking them away from that space without their owners could cause them major stress.
Thankfully there are many options to fit you and your dog’s needs while keeping them home, both for daily walks while you are at work or for in-home long-term pet sitting while you are away for an extended period of time. Services like Rover.com are great for finding quality care for your pet for both of those situations. They have thousands of listings with testimonials on the dog walker/pet sitter’s character and trustworthiness to pick from, for usually far less money than what you would spend at a daycare.
You can also find local recommendations through our community Facebook pages or by contacting area youth dog clubs. The process is very similar to that of finding a reliable babysitter for a child. Having someone you trust to house/pet sit can end up saving you a lot of money and keep your dog happy with their normal routine and environment. Ultimately the goal being to change as little in your dog’s routine as possible. Keeping them at home with the same caregivers each day while you are gone is a great way to do that.
Keep in mind that all dogs are different, and they all are affected by boredom differently. Keeping yourself, your family and your pets happy during this time requires creativity, but you can do it! Know that this is not forever and soon we will be out and about like normal again. Stay safe, stay home and stay sane!
Emma Wikstrom is owns and operates Riverside Dog Training, which she started in June 2019. She is also the Assistant Superintendent for the Kent County Youth Fair Dog Project. Those interested in signing up for the upcoming six-week session or have questions can contact Wikstrom via email at [email protected]. Visit the Riverside Dog Training website or Facebook page to read more about the business.