- Download our Pet Health Guide on how to use Kongs and other interactive food toys
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As our human schedules start going back to normal as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and we return to work, our dogs might be a bit thrown off.
Schedule changes can be very stressful to our animals and it is important to help try and provide some enrichment and stress relief. Physical and mental exercise can be helpful, a walk before work and providing them with something to do while pet parents are away can be extremely helpful.
Some dogs that found new homes during the COVID-19 stay at home orders may not be used to being left alone at all, and this could make them anxious when first left alone as they may not know what to do.
If possible it is best to start by leaving them alone for 5-15 mins to help acclimate them to your absence. You can provide them with something tasty and that helps keep them entertained while you talk the trash out, get the mail, go for a short walk etc.
The next step is to leave them for longer stretches while you run errands, such as a trip to the grocery store – and again you leave them with a tasty and entertaining way to pass the time. This way they start to learn that when they are left alone it is fun and providing them with something to do helps them to not focus on the fact they are alone and also prevents them from doing unwanted things while you are away.
Foraging, chewing and licking release endorphins in the dogs brain and help to keep them happy and calm. Chewing and licking are also self soothing behaviors that help to reduce stress.
Using a variety of foraging toys in rotation can help keep dogs entertained mentally and physically.
Kongs are a favorite food puzzle toy because they can be stuffed with almost anything and be personally tailored to your pet’s diet. Some of my favorites are peanut butter or wet dog food mixed with their favorite treats and/or food. If your dog goes through them quickly you can also freeze them so that it takes longer to go through (in the summer a cool treat is an added benefit).
There are several other foraging toys such as the Tricky Treat Trainer, Barnacle, & Twist-n-Treat. These are fun because the dog gets physical exercise pushing them around the house figuring out how to get the food to fall out. These toys are better for dry to semi moist treats. For kibble we also love the Kong Wobbler and Bob-A-Lot toys that can easily dispense a whole meal.
If you have a dog that tends to be more anxious considering using the CBD infused Honest Paws Calm Peanut Butter in your KONG or on a Licki Mat.
Chews like marrow bones, bully sticks, antlers, horns, and Himalayan cheese chews are long lasting yet edible to varying degrees. Please note: we advise supervising your dog with these for safety. Always supervise your dog when giving a new chew item to make sure they chew them appropriately and do not try to swallow large pieces.
West Paw’s Qwizl toy will help chews like bully sticks last longer and help prevent them from ingesting too much at once. The more active food dispensing toys are a great alternative for heavy chewers because they provide mental stimulation which can then reduce excessive chewing behavior.
Chancel is an accomplished dog trainer. Learn more about Chancel’s services at Click Dog Training.