how to keep a puppy busy

20 Ways on How to Keep a Puppy Busy While You’re at Work

Balancing a job while ensuring your furry friend is entertained can be challenging. Dive into our guide on how to keep a puppy busy, presenting 20 actionable tips to ensure your pet remains happy and engaged even when you’re not home.

20 Ways to Keep a Puppy Busy While at Work

Navigating work life with a new puppy at home? It’s essential to create an environment that keeps your pup mentally and physically active. Not only does this curb destructive behaviors but also fosters a happier, well-adjusted dog. Here are our top 5 ways to achieve this balance:

1. Interactive Toys

Interactive Toys

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Toys like Kongs, Tug-a-Jugs, and Busy Buddy Twist ‘n Treats are more than just playthings. When filled with treats or kibble, they turn into mentally challenging puzzles. Your pup will spend hours trying to figure out how to retrieve those delicious rewards, ensuring they’re mentally stimulated while you’re away.

2. Treat-Dispensing Toys

Turn mealtime into an engaging game. Toys like the Bob-a-Lot or the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball release treats or kibble as your pup plays with them. It makes them work a little harder for their food, mimicking the hunting instincts and keeping them busy for extended periods.

3. Puzzle Feeders

These aren’t just regular bowls. Puzzle feeders like the Outward Hound Fun Feeder or the Nina Ottosson’s Dog Brick challenge your pup’s intelligence. They have compartments and moving parts that your dog needs to navigate to get to their food. It’s a wonderful way to stimulate their brain and slow down fast eaters.

4. Frozen Treats

Frozen Treats

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Think of it as a puppy popsicle. By filling a durable toy, like the Mighty Munch, with dog-safe ingredients like peanut butter, yogurt, or a mix of both and then freezing it, you create a treat that takes time and effort to consume. It’s both a delicious treat and a time-consuming activity, perfect for hot days.

5. Chewing Toys

Chewing is a natural instinct for puppies, and it can keep them occupied for hours. Investing in high-quality chew toys like antlers, Nylabones, or durable rubber toys can provide your puppy with endless entertainment. Plus, it’s a safer alternative to them finding household items to chew.

6. Hide and Seek with Treats

Transform your home into a treasure hunting ground. Before you leave for work, discreetly hide small treats in places where your puppy frequently visits – under their bed, behind cushions, or within their toys. This initiates a fun and prolonged game of search, keeping their olfactory senses sharp and their minds occupied. Just be mindful of the treat amount to maintain a balanced diet.

7. Window View

Window View

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Much like humans enjoy people-watching, dogs love observing the outside world. Set up a cozy spot near a window where your puppy can perch, perhaps with a soft cushion or blanket. The sight of pedestrians, other animals, or even passing cars can be incredibly captivating. It provides visual stimulation and can also be helpful for their social development, making them accustomed to the sights and sounds of the world outside.

8. Interactive Pet Camera

Technology can be a boon for pet parents. Devices like the Furbo or Petcube Play not only allow you to check in on your puppy remotely but also interact with them. Whether it’s calming them down through voice commands, tossing them a treat, or initiating a playful laser game, these gadgets ensure your pup feels your presence, even when physically absent.

9. Background Noise

Silence can be unsettling for many pups. Consider leaving on a radio, TV, or a playlist of calming dog music. The auditory stimuli can mimic the feeling of companionship, potentially reducing separation anxiety. Shows with animals or nature sounds can be especially engaging for pups, making them feel like they’re part of a bigger, lively world.

10. New Toy Rotation

New Toy

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Familiarity might breed boredom in the playful world of puppies. Instead of flooding them with all their toys, rotate them every few days. The reintroduction of a “forgotten” toy can be as exciting as getting a new one. This ensures sustained interest and prolongs the life of each toy, offering fresh play experiences frequently.

11. DIY Activity Mats

Creating or purchasing activity mats or snuffle mats is a delightful way to engage your puppy’s senses. These mats, often made from thick fabric with multiple folds, pockets, and hiding places, can conceal treats and kibbles. Your puppy will nuzzle, paw, and dig through the mat, making mealtime an exciting challenge. It not only stimulates their mental faculties but also gives them a dose of tactile and olfactory exploration.

12. Scent Trails

Puppies have an exceptional sense of smell, which is many times more potent than ours. Make the most of this by setting up scent trails using dog-safe essential oils, or even just their favorite treats. Drag the treat or a scented cloth across the floor in intricate paths leading to a toy or treat. It offers them a novel and entertaining sniffing adventure, reminiscent of tracking in the wild.

13. Ball Launchers

Ball Launchers

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If you have a spacious indoor area or a secured backyard, automated ball launchers like the iFetch can be a game-changer. After some training, your puppy can learn to drop the ball into the launcher by themselves. It then shoots the ball out, letting your pup chase and retrieve it, offering them a game of solo-fetch, ensuring they remain physically active.

14. Boredom Busters

These are toys designed to challenge your pup beyond the usual squeaky or plush toy. Toys that have unpredictable movements, make unique sounds, or even light up can capture a puppy’s attention for extended periods. Toys like the Babble Ball, which makes various sounds when moved, can provide an auditory treat, making your puppy curious and engaged.

15. Secure Play Area

If you have the space, set up a dedicated puppy playpen or room. Populate it with a mix of their favorite toys, chewables, and perhaps an interactive toy or two. This safe space ensures they can play, roll, and romp without the risk of getting into something they shouldn’t. It’s like a personal playground that keeps them entertained and out of potential mischief.

16. Doggy Daycare

Doggy Daycare

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Sometimes, the best stimulation for a puppy is interaction with other dogs. Doggy daycares offer a haven of play, supervised socialization, and exploration. At these facilities, puppies learn essential social cues, play manners, and expend energy with peers. Before choosing a daycare, ensure it has a good reputation, trained staff, and segregates dogs based on size and energy levels for safety.

17. Hire a Dog Walker

If daycare isn’t an option, hiring a trusted dog walker is a great alternative. Not only does it break the monotony of the day, but it also ensures your puppy gets their much-needed exercise and outdoor exploration. This can be particularly beneficial in reinforcing toilet training routines and providing a refreshing change of scenery.

18. New Smells

Introducing different safe items weekly can be a sensory adventure for your pup. From new toys and plants to safe chewables, each carries its unique scent profile. You can also introduce items like pinecones, safe leaves, or even fabric with different scents (e.g., lavender or chamomile). Always monitor their initial interactions to ensure safety.

19. Comfort Items

Comfort Items

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Leaving behind a shirt or blanket that carries your scent can be a massive comfort to your pup. It serves as a reminder of you, offering solace in moments of potential anxiety. You can also invest in warmth-emulating plush toys that mimic the heartbeat of a littermate, providing tactile and auditory comfort.

20. Brain Training Games

In today’s digital age, there are apps and games specifically designed for canine engagement. These touch-responsive games might have your puppy chasing digital critters across a tablet screen or figuring out patterns to earn a reward. While it shouldn’t replace physical play, it’s an excellent tool for occasional mental stimulation.


Ensuring your puppy remains engaged during your work hours is crucial for their well-being and development. By implementing these 20 strategies, you foster a mentally stimulated and happy pup. Remember, a busy puppy is not only a joyful companion but also a future well-adjusted adult dog. Happy parenting!

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