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Dog Boredom Busters

Let's face it. How often are we trying to get dishes done, put laundry in the washer or even watch a TV show and our dog won’t stop staring, following us around, or whining for attention because they are bored… and guess who they want to play with?

But what they don’t know is that their favorite person has things to do outside of throwing a ball, cuddling or tossing them treats. At times, we need a distraction for our pet. Providing distractions or busy activities can be critical for your dog’s mental health (and yours!).

Types of Distractors:

Lick Mat

These have recently gotten more attention among dog owners. It is a silicon mat that suctions to the floor, typically with the top being covered in silicone bristles or geographic grooves.They are very accessible for anyone to use because you can put pretty much any soft (pet safe) food on it. Some examples are mashed bananas, cream cheese, baby food, peanut butter, sweet potato, and canned pumpkin. Dog Licking Mat

The KONG has been a long used tactic for keeping a dog’s attention. Not only does it fulfil your dog’s natural desire to ‘work’, but this one also promotes positive chewing habits. Additionally, the chewing encourages clean teeth and helps control plaque. The list of things a KONG can be filled with is endless and they come in all different sizes and styles, making it a perfect fit for all breeds and chewing levels.Dog with Kong

Snuffle Mat
The nice thing about a snuffle mat (or sometimes called a foraging mat) is that this activity allows your dog to make use of their sense of smell to locate treats or food, which is a variation over the other two types. Here, the energy is spent finding the item rather than working to eat it. Another advantage of this type of distractor is that if you are a crafty person, this is something you can typically make yourself with leftover fabric in your home. Dog with Snuffle Mat

All of these options serve multiple purposes for your dog:

They keep your dog busy - Okay so that is kind of a given, but redirecting your dog’s energy, helps you. A busy dog means you are free to get things done or relax knowing that your pet is entertained. Win-win!

They reduce stress and anxiety - These work as a calming method for fearful or overly anxious animals. They can distract your dog from ‘bad behavior’ and redirect their brain to a healthy coping mechanism.

They are engaging - We often put our pet’s physical health at the forefront, which is great, but it is important not to forget their mental health. We need to ‘work out’ our dog’s brain just as much as their body! Engagement with boredom busting activities helps minimize destructive behavior.

Final Tips:

If you begin using any of the above distractors, please keep your dog’s daily caloric intake in mind. Consistently using a high calorie food item could potentially cause a long term issue. When in doubt, opt for lower calorie treats, or in some cases, you can even use their regular kibble. It is important when utilizing these activities that your dog’s diet is still in balance.

Regular cleaning is important. Please follow the guidelines listed on the product you purchase. Typically, lick mats and KONG’s can be cleaned the easiest by soaking in warm water and dish soap until any residue loosens. KONG’s are top-rack dishwasher safe. Snuffle mats can be washed with other pet blankets, but considering it is meant specifically for your pet to sniff, please try to minimize use of dryer sheets.