This is an easy task for the cats. We let them outside while we are away.
This is a process for the dogs. Sometimes I wonder why I could not just get a dumb dog, why did I have to get two VERY clever Bouviers? Entertaining them while we are away is a mental challenge for Donatello and myself. We just bought a house and are looking into buying a car, so our budget for this entertainment is well, I would rather not spend money. For those of you on this same budget trying to keep your dogs entertained, here are a few of our tricks.
Leave on the TV
Seriously. It costs almost nothing to keep a LED television running all day and it makes the dogs feel less alone. We play cartoons because they are filled with sounds and colours and we figure those are the only requirements for a dog. They do not like The Bare Bears. I have never seen as much destruction as Elsie brought upon me when I left The Bare Bears on all day. You have been warned.
Pro tip: We do not have cable so we have to use streaming programmes. Use Hulu, Netflix requires confirmation every three episodes. Hulu will play for 12 hours continuously.
This started with a game Maggie loved to play, Hide the Treat. It grew to hiding treats around the house for both dogs to find over the course of the day. One day it hit us, why use treats? It costs a lot and they find them in seconds, so Elsie looks for things to entertain her within an hour or two of her seven-hour day. We have Kongs, thankfully, which help to prolong this a bit. (Maggie will just sit with a Kong focused on it until it is empty, so we have to put peanut butter in it to stick the food to the back or freeze it so she cannot inhale hers and then go inhale Elsie’s before Elsie looks for it.)
We are going to try the upside down muffin tray with hidden treats in it. But, I just don’t foresee that being a challenge for these two.
I like this one. They cannot eat it until it is thawed, but they will play with it until then. I use the muffin tray (my dogs would inhale ice cubes and also I don’t have an ice cube tray) to freeze food in beef broth (with no added salt), I put it in their food bowl and let them decide when to get it. (I am convinced that Maggie eats the Kongs and Elsie eats the frozen food, but I have no proof of this. Just speculative at this point. Does anyone wish to donate a camera for scientific research?)
I also like this because our house reaches 78degF during the afternoon in the summer. This is a very small but effective way to keep them cooler.
When I leave, I give them a dental treat. Dental treats take a while to eat and help distract them as I leave. I no longer have to endure the pitiful, awful wail of a Bouvier assuming you are leaving them forever. It was heartbreaking…
Now, they get the treat. They look at me with the awareness that I will be leaving and gratefulness for the treat. Walk into their respective places (Elsie on the couch. Maggie in the hall in front of the laundry room door.) and begin to chew. Then, give me one more glance as if to say, “that’ll do.”
These are our trick and tips. Do you have any to keep your dogs busy?