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How to Keep Your Dog Busy for Long Periods of Time

Updated on February 22, 2015
Rosie writes profile image

Rosie was an elementary school teacher for 13 years, teaching grades 3-5. She is now a Library Media Specialist in an elementary school.

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Canine Separation Anxiety

One of the best things you can do to improve a dog's behavior while your dog is alone, is to give him things to do. Many dogs suffer from canine separation anxiety, when left home alone for long hours on a regular basis.

After raising a German Shepherd and spending more than fifteen years with him, I've learned a lot about dogs. I was initially afraid of having a dog that would grow into a large animal that I might possibly be afraid of. Teddy was 7 weeks old when we brought him home from the Detroit Humane Society. He was just like a little teddy bear, but I knew he would not be for long and I was nervous about how his behavior might change. So a couple of months later, we hired a dog trainer. She was fabulous. I loved her philosophy; she used positive reinforcement and repetition. She taught us how to be the trainers. When her time was up, we were equipped with the knowledge we needed to train our dog.

Teddy learned how to ring a bell to go outside, how to walk leashless, how to sit, stay, lay down, and much more. Some things he already seemed to know, like how to be gentle with children. One of the most important things we learned from our dog trainer, was that our dog was smart and just like a person, he would get bored, especially when left home alone. He needed things to keep busy, just like we do. By keeping him busy, prevent canine separation anxiety, we would avoid the many behavioral problems people encounter with dogs.

Virginia Dog Parks

A markervirginia dog parks -
Rock Hill District Park, 15150 Old Lee Rd, Chantilly, VA 20151, USA
get directions

Ways to Keep a Dog Busy and Avoid Canine Separtation Anxiety

  • Buy a Kong and put peanut butter or cheese inside. This is advertised as a toy. It has a hollow center and is made out of a rubber-like material that never tears. Your dog will spend an hour or more licking that Kong and getting the good stuff out. He will be like a chlild with a lollip. They make these in all sizes for dfferent sized dogs and they will last forever. We still have the one we bought for Teddy even though he is no longer with us. We have used it with our dog we have now, Halle, and she loves it too. This is great when you have company and you want your dog occupied. Also, if your dog is going to be alone for a long period of time, this is a great long-lasting treat.
  • Get an old hand towel and soak it with beef or chicken broth. Wring it out and place it in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Give it to your dog to chew on. This is a also good for young puppies that are teething. This worked great with both of our dogs, however, you may want to test it out when you are home first to be sure your dog does not try to eat the towel.
  • Keeping your dog busy will not be necessary as often, if you are active with your dog on a regular basis. Taking your dog for regular walks or playing with them for 20 minutes each day will cut down on the period of time they tend to be bored. Take your dog for a long walk just before the time you expect your dog to stay occupied. Your dog will be more content with just resting if you do this.
  • While this may not be a viable option for some, another dog would be great to have for companionship. Two dogs together just enjoy being together and will keep each other busy most of the time. Just be sure that the dogs are compatible first.
  • The StarMark Snoggle Treat Dispensing Plush Toy is highly recommended by owners with small dogs or with dogs who are not chewers. This is a softer option than the Kong for providing hours of occupied time for dogs trying to get to their treat.
  • Visit a dog park and let your dog visit with other dogs off-leash. Not only is it entertaining for you, it is mentally and physically healthy for your dog. There are several dog parks in Virginia. Visit for a list of Virginia dog parks.


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    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Useful hub Rosie! Our dog has such horrible separation anxiety that he ignores any toys/treats we leave for him. Only when we come home does he play with them. Frustrating.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      So interesting and here's to so many more to share on here.

      I know many dog owners will benefit from this gem.