Now that our extended / forced vacation is coming to an end, your four legged companions may have gotten too used to having you at home. Although it was nice while it lasted, it's important that we proactively plan ahead!
Conditioning your dog to be okay when you leave is all about creating a positive experience. I am not a dog trainer by any means, but there are some easy at home items you can use to keep your pet's mind stimulated and engaged. If your pet focuses on the positive experience of a puzzle toy, they are less likely to worry about where you are and why you left.
1) Muffin tins
Whether facing right side up, right side up with tennis balls in each hole ( and treats underneath), or upside down... a muffin tin is an inexpensive way to keep a dog preoccupied. Muffin tins are also a great way to slow down pets that eat too fast and / or help to prevent bloat.
2) Foraging in a cardboard box
This method can get messy! If you have newspapers, fabric, or papers you no longer need... toss it in a box with some hidden goodies for your pet. (I recommend staying AWAY from packing peanuts and plastic bags due to the obvious choking hazard.) Try to pick a box that stands no higher than your pet's shoulder
3) Toilet roll challenge
Leftover toilet paper rolls from the corona scare? Put them to good use! Stack them in a shallow basket or box and drop goodies in the tubes. This can get somewhat comical to watch if your dog has a big nose.
4) Frozen kong
Why mess with an oldie but goody? Instead of boring peanut butter (which is high calorie,) try plain low sugar yogurt, pumpkin, baby food, or canned wet food.
5) Snuffle mat
This product is easy to make, similar to the tie-a-blankets your make in college or high school. The fabric pieces serve as a fun foraging experience that your pup is bound to enjoy. This is also a great way to prevent overeating too fast. If you'd like to craft your own, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJQY08LPfts
6) Snuffle ball
If you don't have the ability to go out to the craft store but have some fabric you don't use (old t shirt, old blanket, etc) you can cut strips and put in a hollow toy your pet already owns. I recommend rolling the treats in the fabric and stuffing inside!
7) Puzzle toys
This toy is so entertaining to watch pets sort through. Check out puzzle toys online and try a variety of difficulty levels. Knobs, sliders, and levers are highly engaging when there's a tasty treat at the other end.
I want to let you know you came to the right place for integrative and holistic therapies for your pet!
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When choosing adjustments for your pet, choose someone licensed, trained, and certified.