Things to Look for in a Toy for A Dog Who’s Home Alone
There are three main things you should take into consideration when choosing a toy for your dog to use when they’re home alone:
Correct Size and Strength for Your Dog
Checking the toy is the right size for your dog ensures they’re comfortable and that they can play with the toy properly. Choosing the right strength of toy for your dog is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to safety. Most toys will state whether they are for light, average, or tough chewers.
Good Quality Materials
A toy made of good quality materials is likely to last longer and be better quality overall for your precious pup.
Level of Interactivity and Stimulation
If you’re leaving your dog home alone with a toy, you want them to be stimulated and entertained. When you’re choosing a toy, look for one that will keep your dog busy for long periods.
Safety Advice for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone with a Toy
No dog toy is guaranteed to be completely indestructible. Toys that are destroyed may pose a choking or blockage risk to your dog, so it’s essential you take a few steps to increase your dog’s safety:
- Choose a toy that suits their chew strength
- Don’t leave them with a toy with small, detachable parts
- Know your dog: if they usually destroy even strong toys easily, leaving them with a toy may not be safe
- Test out the toy with them while supervised first
- Consider a pet camera. This can be a great option for owners who need to leave their dogs at home a lot. Most have a monitor you can set up which connects to your phone, allowing you to see, hear, and even talk to your pet while you’re out.
How a Toy Can Help Your Dog When They’re Home Alone
To a dog, their owner is their whole world. All dog owners must leave their dog at home alone, at least now and then. This can be stressful for both dog and owner but leaving them with a toy is one way you can make the experience more pleasant.
A toy can help keep your dog busy while you’re out and prevent them from getting bored. It can help to redirect any frustration behaviors such as destructive chewing. In fact, a toy may help to calm your dog and teach them that being home alone can actually be quite fun.
Other Tips for Leaving Your Dog Alone
There are plenty of other simple tips which can make leaving your dog alone more comfortable for both them and you:
- Exercise them: Giving your dog a good long walk or run around right before you leave will tire them out and make them much more settled. They’re more likely to relax and sleep while you’re gone.
- Build up gradually: If this is the first time you’ll be leaving your dog, build up the time they’re left alone slowly. Start with just a few minutes and plenty of praise when you return. This teaches your dog that they don’t need to be afraid and that you will always come back. The RSPCA explains that this type of training prevents separation anxiety.
- Ensure they have a comfortable area: Make sure your dog has a place in the house with a comfy dog bed where they feel safe and cozy.
- Leave the TV or radio on: Some owners choose to leave a low noise on in the background, such as the TV or radio, as they find it calms their dog.
- Crate or pen train your dog: Crate or pen training can be a good way to ensure your dog’s safety, as well as helping them feel more at ease when you’re gone. It’s like giving them their own bedroom, where they feel at home and secure.
- Remember, dogs should only be alone for a few hours at a time: Depending on your dog’s age, your dog should only be left alone for a few hours at a time. If you’re going to be away for longer, arrange for someone you know or a professional dog walker to come and take your dog out for a while.
Home-Alone Dog Toys FAQ
Can a toy keep your dog entertained while you’re at work?
A toy on its own isn’t going to keep your dog entertained the whole time you’re at work. However, combined with the other methods mentioned, a toy can be useful for your dog. It can reduce boredom and provide a healthy outlet for their energy.
Will a toy prevent bad behavior while your dog is home alone?
Good training is the key to preventing bad behavior. A toy can be a helpful addition to training. It can be particularly useful for redirecting destructive behavior, such as chewing.
Leaving your dog at home alone can be worrying, but with training and a positive outlet like the right toy, your dog can learn to enjoy their alone time. You can leave with peace of mind that your dog will be a happy pup while you’re gone, and of course, when you return!
RSPCA, (2021), “Training your dog to be left alone”.