How to Keep Your Dogs Occupied While Away

by Ruth de Jauregui
A feline friend can keep your dog from getting lonely while you're away.

A feline friend can keep your dog from getting lonely while you're away.

Chien et Chat image by Martin MACCHINI from

Originally, most dogs had jobs to do during the day. Whether herding sheep or hunting vermin, dogs were kept busy by their owners. In today's world, dogs are beloved pets, kept at home while their humans are at work. A dog's instincts, however, require that he have dog-friendly activities available or he could become destructive, chewing on shoes and sofas, digging holes in the garden or barking at every shadow. Providing activities to keep your dog occupied while you're away prevents bored, destructive behavior.

Step 1

Confine your dog to a cage or dog pen when you're away. Place a comfortable dog bed in the crate. In a dog's mind, the cage or pen is his den, providing a secure place to hide and rest when his human isn't home.

Step 2

Provide hard-rubber bones for chewing. Your dog will contentedly gnaw for hours on a rubber bone. Giving your dog bones and toys for chewing can also prevent self-destructive gnawing on his feet and skin.

Step 3

Hide a hollow dog toy filled with dog food in his crate. Nearly all dogs have a hunting instinct; sniffing out the hidden treats satisfies his primeval urge and helps prevent digging in your sofa and kitchen trash can.

Step 4

Give your dog a puzzle box made for dogs. Hide his favorite treat inside the rubber box. He'll search until he locates the treat, keeping him occupied for hours.

Step 5

Put a sturdy stuffed toy in your dog's crate. Retrievers and spaniels have an instinctive need to carry items in their mouths. He may play with his toy, throwing it in the air and chasing it, or cuddle it when he sleeps.

Step 6

Hire a dog walker to walk your dog once or twice a day. A short walk around the block breaks up the dog's day and gives him a chance to relieve himself outside.

Step 7

Consider adding a second pet to your household. If your dog is cat-friendly, a kitten adds companionship without arousing a dog's territorial instincts.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog crate
  • Dog bed
  • Hard-rubber bones
  • Hollow dog toys
  • Dog food
  • Dog puzzle box
  • Dog treats
  • Stuffed toys


  • Routine is important to your dog. Meals and walks provided at regular intervals give a sense of stability and security to the dog, especially if he's alone all day.
  • Rotate your dog's toys to keep him interested in them.


  • Avoid toys with squeakers; your dog may shred the toy and eat the squeaker.
  • Use caution when introducing a second pet to prevent aggressive behavior and fighting.
  • If your dog has a strong prey instinct, don't add a small pet to your household; he may view it as prey, with tragic consequences to the other animal.

Photo Credits

  • Chien et Chat image by Martin MACCHINI from

About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui also worked in the Napa Valley as a high-end catering assistant. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement, pet rescue and social issues.