10 Must-Have Items to Keep Your Dog Entertained While You Are Away

December 5, 2022

Boston Terrier puppy eyes

It’s no surprise that many people are working remotely. The last few years have proven that just as much, if not more, work can be done from the convenience and comfort of their homes. The best part was that it meant more time with their kids or dogs! However, whether we are ready for it or not, businesses are having employees transition back to the workplace. This means addressing the elephant in the room: how do you keep your dog busy while you’re at work?

Following the widespread virus COVID-19, adoption centers and rescues nationwide were celebrating the adoption of so many dogs. In the last year, as people have begun returning to the office to work, we’ve been contacted by concerned owners about their dogs’ crate and/or separation anxiety. Who can blame them when they never went a day without their humans leaving for a year or more? 

Separation anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways when you leave, including your dog howling or drooling, inappropriately eliminating, destroying furniture, walls, or doors, or even inflicting self-harm. The first step is to identify whether this behavior is occurring due to being confined (crate/confinement anxiety) or being left alone (separation anxiety). Our puppy blog “Crate Training and Preventing Separation Anxiety” dives into the first steps of making your puppy feel comfortable being left alone. The most effective way to treat separation anxiety is to associate something positive with your absence. If you give your dog something they enjoy or something fun to do while you are gone, this will decrease the likelihood of them fixating on that fear or anxiety. 

Puppy with puzzle toy

This list is a great place to start if you need to keep your dog busy during the work day! 

Snuffle Mats

Snuffle mats are an innovative way to offer your dog their meals. It makes the meal last longer by slowing them down and mentally stimuluates them by forcing them to use their nose to find each embedded crumb. 

Cheerble’s Interactive Dog Ball toy

This toy is basically a tennis ball with a mind of its own! It is a ball that charges in an hour and can last anywhere from 1.5-8. It rolls, bounces, and spins in reaction to your dog’s advances. The play settings can be changed to reflect your dog’s play style. Not recommended for heavy chewers.

LaRoo’s Frozen Dog toys

These toys are meant to be filled with water and then frozen, so they are perfect for dogs who love their ice cubes! It will keep them busy, and cool, and is good for their teeth! 

Groov’s Interactive Dog toy

This is a great accessory for dogs who are crate-trained. This attachment can be filled with a paste or smothered with a homemade yogurt or ice cream mix and frozen. Before you leave for work, attach it to your dog’s wire crate to give them a yummy snack and something to work on while you’re gone!

BONEHEAD Chew toys

BONEHEAD chew toys are safe attachments to bones or chews. They allow your dog to chew on their favorite bully sticks or snacks while reducing the risk of choking by making it impossible for them to swallow it when it gets too small. Simply detach the BONEHEAD piece when you get home and throw away the remainder of the bone or chew.

Wobble Bowl

A Wobble bowl is a nice hybrid of your dog’s normal food and a snuffle mat or puzzle toy. It slows their feeding to aid with digestion and mentally stimulates them by encouraging them to work for their food. 

Puzzle/Enrichment toys

Puzzle or enrichment toys are fun ways to offer your dog their food or treats. There are a variety of options that present your dog with tricks, traps, and puzzles they must solve for their reward. This is one of many good options to serve as an outlet for your dog’s extra energy for the day. While a daily walk and play are still required, these toys can keep your pup preoccupied in the meantime.

Durable toys for Aggressive Chewers

Our expert puppy trainers and dog behavior specialists typically don’t recommend plush toys, rope toys, or rawhides. Instead, while these durable toys are a little more expensive, they will last your puppy much longer and don’t pose choking hazards!


Kongs are multi-functional in that they serve as standalone toys or as a means to feed your puppy or dog their meal! In the evening, prepare your dog’s meal and then stuff the Kong completely. You may have to add water or a low-sodium broth to the food to soften it to make this process easier. When it’s full, freeze overnight. Present it to your pup the next day right before you head out the door! 

Scent/Foraging Work toys

Toys focusing specifically on scent or foraging skills are another wonderful way to keep your dog busy. These are a type of puzzle toy that engage the dog’s nose more than others. These are great for Scent Hounds, but any dog can enjoy them! Putting their food or treats in these can give your dog something fun to do, give them a chance to practice their skills, and make them more comfortable playing independently for longer periods of time.

As always, if you are concerned about your dog’s health or behavior, contact your veterinarian and/or one of our certified dog trainers and behavior specialists. We hope our suggestions lead you to your dog’s new favorite toy, and more importantly, calm behavior whenever you need to run some errands or leave for work. If these suggestions just don’t seem to cut it and your dog is still stressed at home, contact us for personalized management strategies you can start right away!