The Best Toys To Keep Your Dog Occupied When You'Re Away

As much as we love our furry friends, there are times when we have to leave them alone at home. And while we're away, our dogs can get bored, anxious, and even destructive. Among the top common signs of boredom in dogs is excessive barking. But fear not, there are ways to keep your dog occupied and entertained while you're away. In fact, there are toys that can help alleviate their boredom and prevent them from barking incessantly. So, if you're looking for the best toys to keep your dog occupied, keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs may bark excessively due to separation anxiety, but distractions, addressing anxiety, or seeking professional help can help reduce barking.
  • Excessive barking can cause physical and behavioral issues for dogs and negative consequences for owners and neighbors.
  • Toys that provide mental stimulation and require dogs to work for treats can reduce boredom barking.
  • Puzzle toys, chew toys, interactive toys, and comfort toys are great for dogs who bark when left alone.
  • Rotate your dog's toys weekly to keep them interested and engaged.
  • Interactive dog toys can reduce barking behavior in dogs.
  • Calming toys can help manage anxiety, but may not solve the issue entirely.
  • Training your dog to use toys is possible by introducing solo play, offering a variety of toys, teaching them how to use their toys, playing alongside them, rotating toys, considering puzzle toys, and DIY cognitive toys.
  • Exercise your dog before leaving to reduce barking.
  • Consider your dog's size, breed, play style, age, and activity level when choosing safe and durable toys that match their preferences and interests, and rotate them regularly to avoid choking hazards.

The rest of this article will explain specific topics. You may read them in any order, as they are meant to be complete but concise.

1. Understanding Why Dogs Bark When Left Alone

Reasons why dogs bark when left alone

Dogs are social animals, and they thrive on human interaction and attention. When they are left alone, they may experience separation anxiety, which can lead to excessive barking. Additionally, dogs may bark when left alone for the following reasons:

  • Communicating their needs: Dogs may bark to let their owners know that they need something, such as food, water, or to go outside.
  • Expressing their feelings: Dogs may bark to express their emotions, such as excitement, fear, or frustration.
  • Territorial behavior: Dogs may bark to protect their territory or to warn intruders.
  • Seeking attention: Dogs may bark to get attention from their owners, especially if they are feeling lonely or bored.

Dealing with excessive barking

If your dog is barking excessively when left alone, there are several things you can do to address the issue. Here are some tips:

  • Provide distractions: If your dog is barking because he's bored, providing a distraction to keep him busy may solve the problem. You can give him a Kong filled with treats or a “brain puzzle” to keep him entertained.
  • Address separation anxiety: If your dog is barking due to separation anxiety, you can try desensitization training to help him feel more comfortable when you're not around. This involves gradually increasing the amount of time that your dog spends alone, while rewarding him for calm behavior.
  • Seek professional help: If your dog's barking is causing significant problems, it may be time to seek professional help. A veterinarian or dog trainer can help you identify the underlying cause of your dog's barking and develop a plan to address it.

It's important to remember that barking is a form of communication and is a completely normal dog behavior. However, excessive barking can be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

By understanding why dogs bark when left alone and taking steps to address the issue, you can help your furry friend feel more comfortable and reduce his barking.

2. The Negative Effects of Excessive Barking on Dogs and Their Owners

1. Sore throat and damage to the dog's vocal cords

Excessive barking can cause sore throat and damage to the dog's vocal cords. Dogs that bark excessively are at risk of developing laryngitis, which can cause permanent damage to their vocal cords. This can make it difficult for them to communicate and can lead to other health issues down the line.

2. Stress and anxiety, which can lead to a variety of behavioral issues

Dogs that bark excessively are often stressed and anxious. This can lead to a variety of behavioral issues, including aggression, destructiveness, and fearfulness. These issues can be difficult to address and can lead to a breakdown in the relationship between the dog and its owner.

3. Discomfort or pain, especially in senior dogs that are experiencing bone and joint discomfort from arthritis

Excessive barking can also cause discomfort or pain, especially in senior dogs that are experiencing bone and joint discomfort from arthritis. Dogs that bark excessively may be more likely to develop joint pain and arthritis, which can make it difficult for them to move around and enjoy their lives.

4. Frustration for the dog's owner and sometimes neighbors

Excessive barking can be frustrating for the dog's owner and sometimes neighbors. This can lead to tension and conflict between neighbors and can even result in legal action if the barking is severe enough.

5. Sleep deprivation, hearing impairment, psychological and performance problems for the owner

Excessive barking can also cause sleep deprivation, hearing impairment, and psychological and performance problems for the owner. This can lead to decreased productivity at work, as well as a decrease in overall quality of life.

How to Stop Excessive Barking

Please find out why your dog is barking excessively and address the underlying cause rather than punishing the dog for barking. Possible reasons for excessive barking include boredom, anxiety, frustration, or feeling defensive of their homes or families.

Once you have identified the cause, you can work on training your dog to be quiet or removing the trigger. For example, if your dog is barking because they are bored, you can provide them with more toys and activities to keep them occupied.

If your dog is barking because they are anxious, you can work on reducing their anxiety through training and medication.

If a medical issue is causing your dog to bark excessively, it should be treated by a veterinarian. This may include medication or surgery to address the underlying issue.

3. Using Toys to Keep Dogs Occupied and Reduce Barking

Distraction toys are a great way to distract your dog from barking triggers. These toys provide mental stimulation and help conquer boredom. Look for boredom-busting dog toy varieties that you can stuff with kibble or other food that require your dog to work to get at the treats inside.

This will keep your dog occupied and less likely to bark out of boredom.

Treat Puzzles, Easy-to-Digest Chews, and Comfort Objects

Treat puzzles, easy-to-digest chews, and comfort objects like stuffed squeaky toys can give dogs something to self-stimulate with when they start to feel bored. Leaving these objects for your dog when you're out of the house can keep them busy and less likely to worry bark about your absence or bark out the window at passersby.

Make sure to choose toys that are appropriate for your dog's size and chewing habits to avoid any potential choking hazards.

Chew Toys

Chew toys are another great way to keep your dog busy and reduce boredom barking. Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs and can help relieve stress and anxiety. Make sure to choose high-quality chew toys that are durable and safe for your dog to chew on.

You can also rotate your dog's chew toys to keep them interested and engaged.

Overall, providing enrichment activities like toys can help stimulate a dog's brain, keep them entertained, and reduce the amount of nuisance barking they do. However, please remember that toys are not a substitute for exercise, training, and socialization.

Make sure to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities for physical activity and mental stimulation, and consult with a veterinarian if you're concerned about your dog's behavior.

4. Best Types of Toys for Dogs Who Bark When Left Alone

As a dog owner, it can be frustrating to come home to a barking dog every time you leave the house. Not only can it disturb your neighbors, but it can also cause stress for your furry friend. Fortunately, there are several types of toys that can help keep your dog occupied and calm while you're away.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Before leaving your dog alone, please provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. This can help tire them out and make them less likely to bark out of boredom or anxiety. Take your dog for a walk or run, play fetch, or engage in other activities that get them moving and thinking.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training is another effective way to help your dog associate being alone with positive experiences. This involves rewarding your dog with treats, toys, or praise for good behavior, such as staying quiet while you're away.

Over time, your dog will learn that being alone is a good thing and may be less likely to bark.

Safe and Comfortable Space

It's also important to provide a safe and comfortable space for your dog to stay in while you're away. This can be a crate or a designated area of the house that is free of hazards and has comfortable bedding.

Make sure your dog has access to water and toys to keep them occupied.

Calming Aids

In addition to exercise, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement training, you may also want to consider using calming aids such as pheromone sprays or calming music. These can help soothe your dog and make them less anxious while you're away.

Consult with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for recommendations on which calming aids may be best for your dog.

Best Types of Toys

When it comes to toys, there are several types that can help keep your dog occupied and calm while you're away. Here are some of the best types of toys for dogs who bark when left alone:

  • Puzzle toys: Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated while you're away. They require your dog to think and problem-solve to get to the treats inside. Examples of puzzle toys include the Kong Classic and the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado.
  • Chew toys: Chew toys can help satisfy your dog's natural urge to chew and can also help relieve stress. Examples of chew toys include the Nylabone Dura Chew and the Benebone Wishbone.
  • Interactive toys: Interactive toys are designed to keep your dog engaged and active. They may include features such as squeakers, ropes, or balls. Examples of interactive toys include the Chuckit! Ultra Ball and the KONG Flyer.
  • Comfort toys: Comfort toys are soft and cuddly toys that can help soothe your dog and provide a sense of security. Examples of comfort toys include the Petstages Cozy Cuddle Pal and the KONG Comfort Kiddos Bear.

By providing plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, positive reinforcement training, a safe and comfortable space, and the right types of toys, you can help prevent your dog from barking when left alone.

Remember to consult with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for additional advice and support.

5. Rotating Your Dog's Toys: How Often is Too Often?

As a dog owner, you want your furry friend to be happy and entertained. One way to do this is by providing them with toys. However, buying a bunch of toys at once can be expensive, and your dog may quickly lose interest in them.

That's where toy rotation comes in.

Why Rotate Your Dog's Toys?

Rotating your dog's toys can keep them interested and engaged. Dogs are intelligent creatures, and they need stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. By switching out their toys, you can provide your dog with new and exciting experiences.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Dog's Toys?

It is recommended to change out your dog's toys about once a week. This timeframe allows your dog to become familiar with their toys while still providing enough variety to keep them interested.

Tips on How to Rotate Your Dog's Toys

Here are some tips on how to rotate your dog's toys effectively:

  • Choose three to five toys to keep out at a time and stash the rest away in a closed bin or closet. This way, your dog won't become overwhelmed with too many toys at once.
  • If your dog has a favorite toy, leave that one out of the rotation. This will give your dog a sense of familiarity and comfort.
  • Get rid of any toys that start to break or fray for safety and hygienic reasons. Broken toys can pose a choking hazard, and dirty toys can harbor bacteria.
  • To avoid toy boredom, stop leaving all of your dog's toys scattered on the floor – in sight and in reach. This can cause your dog to become desensitized to their toys and lose interest quickly.
  • You can hide most of their toy stash except for a few, then after a week, put those away and pull out some others – your dog will play as if they're brand new!

6. Interactive Toys as a Tool for Reducing Barking

Dogs are social animals that require mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. When dogs are not stimulated enough, they can become bored, anxious, and even develop nuisance barking behavior.

However, providing enrichment to a dog can help stimulate their brain, keep them entertained, and reduce the amount of nuisance barking they do.

Interactive dog toys can be a great way to provide enrichment to dogs and reduce barking.

Types of Interactive Dog Toys

There are many types of interactive dog toys that can help reduce barking behavior in dogs. Here are some examples:

  • Toy dogs that walk, bark, and flip: These toys can be a great way to keep your dog entertained and provide them with mental stimulation. They can also help reduce barking behavior by distracting your dog from barking at outside noises.
  • Treat puzzles: These toys are designed to hold treats and challenge your dog to figure out how to get the treats out. They can be a great way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated. Treat puzzles can also help reduce barking behavior by distracting your dog from barking at outside noises.
  • Toys with texture and layers: Toys with different textures and layers can provide sensory stimulation for your dog. They can also help reduce barking behavior by distracting your dog from barking at outside noises.
  • Dog puzzle toys: These toys are designed to challenge your dog's problem-solving skills. They can be a great way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated. Dog puzzle toys can also help reduce barking behavior by distracting your dog from barking at outside noises.
  • Kong Wobbler Entertainment Toy: This toy is designed to hold treats and challenge your dog to figure out how to get the treats out. It can be a great way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated. The Kong Wobbler Entertainment Toy can also help reduce barking behavior by distracting your dog from barking at outside noises.
  • Outward Hound Tail Teaser with Refill Dog & Cat Teaser Toy: This toy is designed to simulate the movement of prey and can be a great way to provide your dog with mental and physical stimulation. The Outward Hound Tail Teaser with Refill Dog & Cat Teaser Toy can also help reduce barking behavior by distracting your dog from barking at outside noises.

Limitations of Interactive Toys

While interactive toys can be helpful in reducing barking, they may not be a complete solution. It's also important to address the root cause of the barking behavior and provide appropriate training and exercise for the dog.

7. Calming Toys for Anxious Dogs: Do They Really Work?

If you're a dog owner, you know that dogs can suffer from anxiety just like humans do. Anxiety in dogs can manifest in many ways, including barking, destructive behavior, and even aggression. Fortunately, there are toys that can help calm anxious dogs.

Here are some examples of calming toys for dogs with anxiety:

  • Snuffle mats: Snuffle mats keep dogs busy by combining problem-solving and scent exploration. Dogs have to use their noses to find treats hidden in the mat, which can help distract them from their anxiety.
  • Calming dog toys: Calming dog toys offer maximum distraction power that encourages a soothing behavior, like foraging or licking. These toys are designed to be chewed, licked, or snuggled, which can help calm anxious dogs.
  • Calming collars: Calming collars for dogs can help relieve anxiety and promote relaxation. These collars release pheromones that mimic the natural calming scents that dogs produce, which can help soothe anxious dogs.
  • Classic KONG: Great for chewing, fetch, or stuffing with tasty treats, this toy gives you several ways to manage your dog's anxiety. The KONG can be filled with peanut butter, cheese, or other tasty treats, which can keep your dog occupied and distracted from their anxiety.
  • Snuggle Puppy: This toy is designed to mimic the warmth and comfort of a mother dog, which can help soothe anxious puppies. The Snuggle Puppy comes with a heat pack and a simulated heartbeat, which can help calm anxious dogs.
  • Nina Ottosson Interactive Toy: This interactive toy can help keep your dog's mind engaged and distracted from their anxiety. The toy requires dogs to use their problem-solving skills to find treats hidden inside, which can help distract them from their anxiety.
  • Treat dispensing toys: Treat dispensing toys can keep your dog occupied and distracted while you're away. These toys release treats as your dog plays with them, which can help keep them busy and calm.
  • Jolly Pets Teaser Ball: This ball is designed to bounce erratically, which can help keep your dog entertained and distracted from their anxiety. The unpredictable movements of the ball can help keep dogs engaged and focused, which can help distract them from their anxiety.
  • Ruff Dawg Om: This chew toy is made of durable rubber and has a unique shape that can help keep your dog's mind engaged and distracted from their anxiety. The toy can be filled with treats, which can help keep dogs occupied and calm.
  • Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy: This toy is designed to mimic the warmth and comfort of a mother dog, which can help soothe anxious puppies. The Snuggle Puppy comes with a heat pack and a simulated heartbeat, which can help calm anxious dogs.
  • Pet Qwerks Babble Ball: This interactive ball makes over 20 different sounds, which can help keep your dog entertained and distracted from their anxiety. The unpredictable sounds of the ball can help keep dogs engaged and focused, which can help distract them from their anxiety.
  • Hyper Pet Doggie Tail Interactive Plush Toy: This plush toy wags its tail when touched, which can help keep your dog entertained and distracted from their anxiety. The wagging tail can help stimulate your dog's natural prey drive, which can help keep them focused and calm.

It is fundamental to note that every dog is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the right calming toy for your specific dog's needs. Additionally, while calming toys can be helpful in managing anxiety, they are unlikely to completely solve the issue themselves.

Other strategies such as training, exercise, and medication may also be necessary to address your dog's anxiety.

8. Training Your Dog to Use Toys to Occupy Themselves

Dogs are known for being playful and energetic animals that love to engage in different activities. However, sometimes, they can become bored or anxious when left alone, leading to excessive barking and destructive behavior.

One way to keep your dog occupied and prevent such behavior is by training them to use toys to occupy themselves.

Here are some tips on how to do that:

1. Introduce Your Dog to Solo Play

The first step in training your dog to use toys to occupy themselves is to introduce them to solo play. You can do this by providing them with toys that they can play with on their own. Examples of such toys include puzzle balls, chew toys, and stuffed animals.

Show your dog how to use the toys by playing with them and demonstrating how they work.

2. Offer a Variety of Toy Options

Dogs are like humans in that they have different preferences. Some dogs may prefer chew toys, while others may prefer puzzle toys. To ensure that your dog has a toy that they enjoy playing with, provide them with an abundance of toy options.

This will keep them entertained and prevent them from getting bored.

3. Teach Your Dog How to Use Their Toys

Once you have introduced your dog to their toys, it's time to teach them how to use them. You can do this by replacing whatever they usually chew on with a new toy and guiding them towards it when they start chewing on something else.

This will help them understand that the new toy is an acceptable alternative.

4. Play Alongside Your Dog

Playing alongside your dog is an excellent way to encourage them to learn, grow, and explore their toys. It also helps to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Get down on the floor with your dog and play with their toys together.

This will show your dog that their toys are fun and enjoyable.

5. Rotate Your Dog's Toys

Dogs can quickly get bored with their toys if they play with the same ones for an extended period. To keep their curiosity piqued, rotate their toys every night. This will keep them interested in their toys and prevent them from getting bored.

6. Consider Interactive Puzzle Toys

Interactive puzzle toys are an excellent way to provide mental stimulation to your dog while keeping them occupied. These toys require some training, but they are worth the effort. Examples of interactive puzzle toys include treat-dispensing balls, puzzle feeders, and hide-and-seek toys.

7. DIY Cognitive Dog Toys

DIY cognitive dog toys can be a fun and inexpensive way to challenge your dog's brain. You can make these toys using materials that you have at home, such as cardboard boxes, PVC pipes, and tennis balls.

DIY cognitive dog toys are an excellent way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated.

9. Other Strategies for Reducing Barking When You're Away

Dogs are social animals that often bark to communicate with their owners. However, excessive barking can be a nuisance to you and your neighbors, especially when you're away from home. In our previous article, we discussed some of the most effective strategies for reducing barking when you're away, such as providing your dog with something to do, crate training, bark collars, distraction method, and gradual training.

Here are some additional strategies that you can try:

  • Exercise: Dogs that are tired from physical activity are less likely to bark when left alone. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise before you leave, such as a long walk or playtime in the yard. A tired dog is a happy dog.
  • Music or TV: Leaving the radio or TV on can provide background noise that may soothe your dog and make them feel less alone. Choose a channel with soft music or talk shows, and avoid channels with loud noises or commercials that may trigger your dog's barking.
  • Pheromone sprays: Pheromone sprays are designed to mimic the natural calming scents that dogs produce. These sprays can be sprayed on your dog's bed, crate, or favorite spot to help them relax and reduce barking.
  • Desensitization: Desensitization involves gradually exposing your dog to the triggers that cause them to bark, such as the sound of the doorbell or the sight of people walking by. Start by exposing your dog to these triggers at a low level and gradually increase the intensity over time. Reward your dog for remaining calm and quiet during the process.
  • Hire a dog sitter or walker: If you're away from home for long periods of time, consider hiring a dog sitter or walker to check in on your dog and provide companionship. This can help reduce your dog's anxiety and prevent excessive barking.
  • Address underlying issues: Sometimes, excessive barking can be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as separation anxiety, fear, or boredom. If you suspect that your dog's barking is caused by an underlying issue, consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to address the problem.

10. Choosing the Best Toys for Your Dog's Needs and Preferences

Dogs are known to be playful creatures, and they love toys as much as children do. Toys provide mental and physical stimulation for your furry friend, and they can help prevent destructive behavior and even stop dog barking.

However, with so many different types of toys available, choosing the right one for your dog can be overwhelming.

Here are some tips to help you choose the best toys for your dog's needs and preferences.

Consider Your Dog's Size and Breed

When selecting toys for your dog, please consider their size and breed. Larger dogs need toys that are durable and can withstand their strong jaws, while smaller dogs may prefer toys that are easier to carry and play with.

Additionally, certain breeds may have specific toy preferences.

For example, retrievers may enjoy toys that they can fetch, while terriers may prefer toys that they can chew on.

Choose Durable and Safe Toys

It is fundamental to choose toys that are durable and safe for your dog to play with. Toys that are poorly made or made of cheap materials can easily break and become a choking hazard. Look for toys that are made of high-quality materials, such as rubber, nylon, or Kevlar.

Additionally, avoid toys that have small parts that could be easily swallowed.

Think About Your Dog's Play Style

Every dog has their own play style, and please choose toys that match their preferences. Some dogs love to chew on toys, while others enjoy playing fetch or tug-of-war. Observe your dog's play habits and choose toys that they will enjoy playing with.

Consider Your Dog's Age and Activity Level

When selecting toys for your dog, please consider their age and activity level. Puppies may prefer softer toys that are easier to chew on, while older dogs may need toys that are gentler on their teeth.

Additionally, dogs that are highly active may need toys that provide more mental and physical stimulation.

Observe Your Dog's Preferences and Interests

The best way to determine what types of toys your dog enjoys playing with is to observe their preferences and interests. Some dogs may prefer toys that make noise, while others may enjoy toys that are scented.

Pay attention to what types of toys your dog gravitates towards and choose toys that match their interests.

Concluding thoughts and considerations

As much as we love our furry friends, sometimes they can be a bit too vocal. Whether it's barking at the mailman or whining for attention, excessive noise can be a nuisance for both you and your neighbors.

So, what's the solution? While toys can certainly help keep your dog occupied and distracted, they may not necessarily stop the barking altogether.

One thing to consider is the root cause of your dog's barking.

Are they bored? Anxious? In need of exercise? Addressing these underlying issues can go a long way in reducing excessive noise.

Additionally, training and positive reinforcement can help teach your dog appropriate behavior and communication.

That being said, there are some toys that may aid in reducing barking.

Puzzle toys, for example, can provide mental stimulation and keep your dog focused on a task rather than barking.

Treat-dispensing toys can also be helpful, as they provide a tasty distraction and reward for quiet behavior.

Ultimately, please remember that every dog is unique and may require different approaches to address barking.

So, while toys can certainly be a helpful tool, please also consider other factors and seek professional guidance if needed.

In the end, our furry friends bring so much joy and love into our lives, but please also be mindful of their behavior and how it may impact those around us.

So, let's continue to explore new ways to keep our dogs happy and occupied, while also being respectful of our neighbors and community.

My Dog Barks When I Leave Her Alone! Watch Me Train Her To Stop!

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Links and references

  1. spiritdogtraining.com
  2. akc.org
  3. wikihow.pet
  4. rover.com
  5. cuteness.com

Related articles:

Tips to Stop Your Dog from Barking When You're Not Home

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Dogs

How to Train Your Dog to Be Comfortable Alone

How to Create a Safe and Comfortable Space for Your Dog When You're Not Home

The Benefits of Hiring a Dog Walker or Sitter

How to Use Positive Reinforcement to Stop Your Dog from Barking When Left Alone

When to Seek Professional Help for Your Dog's Barking Problem.

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