One of the biggest challenges of being a pet owner is what to do with the dog while away from home. For those who have to head to the office for several hours, leaving the dog alone to decide how to pass the hours until his or her best friend in the whole world returns home could quickly escalate into a major problem. Fortunately, there are multiple solutions that can help dogs stay healthy, mentally stimulated, and happy until the end of the workday, which is great news for furniture and shoes everywhere!

1) Doggy Daycare
One place your furry friend can enjoy a little outdoor time, some human interaction, and loads of playtime fun is at doggy daycare. There are designated daycare centers that boast indoor kennels for break and feeding times as well as carefully selected playgroups that are typically based on size and energy or excitement level. This way, whether you have a dog that is a whirling ball of energy while you are away or a calmer pooch who loves a good belly rub and nap in the sun by a friend, a doggy daycare is an excellent option to keep him or her happy all day.

Plus, depending on the dog and selected services, your dog may be well-exercised and ready for some solid snuggle and bonding time with the family in the evenings. If so, the use of a doggy daycare with optional exercise services may help reduce the need for your dog to find ways to cope with separation anxiety, boredom, or excessive energy from missing a morning run or long walk during the days you have to leave the house for a couple of hours on the weekend as well. 

2) Pet Sitter/Dog Walker
Another way to get in that workout we all need, especially your dog who is waiting at home for several hours, is to hire a pet sitter or dog walker to stop by at a scheduled time. These individuals are likely to be as crazy about your dog as you are, which means more one-on-one fun time with humans for your dog while taking in the neighborhood sites and smells. Some dog walkers also include multiple dogs on each walk, which means your dog will be able to make some tail-wagging friends.

3) Puzzle Toys
If you plan to be gone for four to six hours tops or if you are dropping your dog off at a pet sitter’s house, puzzle toys that contain treats as a reward for their hard-earned effort can help to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated. Of course, once they solve that puzzle and receive the reward hidden inside, the game is over. Therefore, this is a great way to calm dogs that only experience separation anxiety as you are leaving yet settle down shortly after you are gone.

4) Automatic Food Dispenser
What about that bout of boredom between dog walks and your return home? Two meals per day are sufficient for a healthy diet for most dogs. However, if your vet is comfortable with you offering your dog three meals, consider an automatic food dispenser to provide your dog with something to look forward to during your absence. This way, as you leave for work, your dog will know a tasty treat will soon follow. Be sure to ask your vet how many meals you can set it to disperse and the volume of each portion to reduce the risk of weight gain. Also, remember to set expectations you can follow while home or on the road when you bring your dog on those great outdoor adventures as dogs are all about consistent routines and rewards. 

5) Smart Ball Toss & Doggy Cameras
Like the thought of interactive toys and treat or food dispensers but not sure if your dog will stay entertained until your return? Many people like to stay connected to their dogs through the doggy cameras in their homes. With these cameras, owners can talk to their dogs or monitor their dogs’ behaviors visually to discover what, if anything, may need a little tweaking in their routine to create more zen while the dogs are alone.

Then, a smart ball toss may be the ideal solution for dogs who love to play fetch to keep the dog from developing destructive behaviors or showing signs of loneliness. The ball toss will provide exercise while also challenging the dog to focus on catching or finding the ball – sometimes in the most unlikely and somewhat hard-to-reach locations. Just be sure he or she won’t feel too distraught about losing a ball behind the entertainment cabinet that you may discover until you move.