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Sadly, our dogs can’t always come with us—and, sometimes, we’ve all gotta leave the house! So what does your dog get up to when you leave them home alone? Counter surfing? Couch surfing? Singing the blues? While some dogs may be content to snooze away the day, many dogs will need some extra stimulation to keep them happy during your absence. We’ve got some great suggestions for tricks and toys to keep dogs busy while you’re away.

Starmark Treat Dispensing Dog Toy

Ideal for larger dogs, this treat-dispensing toy can help to stimulate a dog’s natural foraging instinct.

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Help Your Dog Feel Relaxed

Nicole Ellis, dog trainer and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, recommends managing your dog’s space while they’re alone. That means reducing their potential for getting into trouble, as well as removing triggers. This can be as simple as blocking off a corner of your living room or keeping doors closed to no-go areas.

The key is to create a special dog zone with a few safe toys, treats, and comfort items. A pet gate can help section off a portion of the house if you don’t use a crate or can’t spare an entire room just for your dog.

Shutting the blinds or curtains can help to reduce barking triggers.

Leaving on a fan or a white noise machine can also help cover up other noises, which can help reduce agitation.

This compact, fan-based white noise maker has two speeds and comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Yogasleep Dohm Classic The Original White Noise Machine

This compact white noise machine can keep your dog calm by covering up other noises.

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Distract Your Lonely Dog

A durable dog toy can help distract your dog with play; just do your research and make sure the toy is safe for use when you’re not around to supervise (i.e., no choking or splintering hazards).

The classic Nylabone is a good option to keep your dog busy gnawing away with plenty of dog-friendly flavors and a variety of size and toughness options. We hear this toy promotes healthy teeth, too. 

Nylabone DuraChew Toy

Available in a range of sizes and flavors, Nylabones are a great option for a chew toy.

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Splurge on Extra-Cozy Dog Beds

The comfier the bed, the more enticing it will be for daytime rest. You can also move or add beds for the novelty factor. Cave beds are great for diggers, while orthopedic options are ideal for senior pets. Check out our roundup of the best dog beds.

Provide External Distractions

Leave the radio or TV on at a low volume, or consider a special “pet entertainment” station (yes, it’s a thing)! Leaving something on when you leave the house can help distract your dog from focusing on noises outside the house.

An interactive pet cam can be a fun splurge that provides a lot of entertainment mileage for both of you; it lets you watch and communicate with your dog from afar, and many pet cams offer features such as games and treat tossing. Be warned that it gets addictive!

This pet cam lets you keep an eye on your doggo with 1080p streaming footage day or night with a 160-degree view. You’ll receive barking alerts on your mobile device plus you can talk to your buddy and even toss them a treat from afar.

Verified Review: “The Furbo is the ultimate ‘didn’t know I needed it until I got it’ pet tech. This treat-shooting pet spy-gear has easy set-up and a user-friendly app. You can shoot treats at your pet, talk to them through the microphone, and sneak a peek at them while you’re away via the built-in camera. I love it because (1) I now have confirmation that my dog seems pretty content when I’m not around. (2) It sends me a push notification whenever he’s barking so I can turn on the camera and see what’s up. (Spoiler alert: It’s always the mailman.) and (3) I can remind him any time, from anywhere, that I love him. That’s definitely the best part.”

Furbo Dog Camera

With this gadget, you can keep an eye on your dog when you’re away from home and even dispense a treat all via your phone.

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More Toys to Keep Dogs Busy

Pro tip: Rotate toys in and out to keep things fresh and interesting.

here’s a reason this toy is ubiquitous. Fill the hollow of this ultra-durable rubber number with peanut butter, dog-safe stuffings, or treats (for a challenge, put it in the freezer—great if your dog needs stimulation for an extended period!) and your dog will stay busy getting it all out.

Verified Review: “I use my Kongs (yes, I have multiple) constantly, not just to give my dog Buster something to do at home alone but to make him use his doggy brain to eat his meals. This thing can be frozen and put in the dishwasher, plus it bounces and floats. Buster loves it.”

Purchase pre-made Kong treats and stuffings in lots of flavors, like bacon and cheese—or, make your own!

Kong Classic Dog Toy

Kong Classic Dog Toy

Fill this hollow rubber toy with treats or a dog-safe stuffing to create an irresistible chew that will happily distract your pet.

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Interactive puzzle toys may take a little training for some pups, but it’s a lot of fun once they get it down. Hide dog food under the sliders and this toy will keep your dog busy playing, “Where’s the Scooby snack?”

Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Puzzle Dog Toy

Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Puzzle Toy

Your dog has to work to get the treats out of this challenging puzzle toy.

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For more toys like this, also take a look at the great Nina Ottosson puzzle toy line.

Colorful ball toys that dispense treats are a real hit with pet parents and their dogs. This little toy will keep your dog busy and entertained for longer than you might expect, because it engages them mentally and physically. It also features adjustable levels of difficulty to keep things fresh.

Pet Zone IQ Treat Dispenser Ball

You can adjust the difficulty level of this treat-dispensing ball to make it more or less challenging for your dog,

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The Bob-A-Lot gets a thumbs-up from our larger dogs, stimulating their natural foraging instincts. This toy also has different levels of difficulty to keep your dog busy and can be filled with different kinds of treats and crunchies.

Starmark Treat Dispensing Dog Toy

Ideal for larger dogs, this treat-dispensing toy can help to stimulate a dog’s natural foraging instinct.

Shop on Chewy

Feeling Handy?

Build your own puzzle toy! Keeping dogs busy usually involves some kind of hide-and-seek factor, and there are a lot of household items that can be transformed into treat-hiding toys. Think empty milk jugs, a mat with lots of felt pieces, or a muffin tin filled with treats and covered in tennis balls to block easy access to the snacks.

A Tired Dog Is a Good Dog

Exercise your dog before you leave for the day with a vigorous walk or a game of fetch. This sets your dog up for a nice long snooze. If your busy schedule makes this tough, get some help.

Mental exercise can wear your dog out, too. Frequent training sessions can help calm the canine mind—and strengthen your bond!

Rover Can Help

Does your dog need company? It’s easy to find great pet care from doggy daycare to dog walking on Rover.

Want more information on preparing your dog for some quality alone time? Check out more articles below.

More Toys and Tips to Keep Dogs Busy

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