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A Dog's Eye View: Keep your dog entertained

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Sandra Kruczek

— Young? Athletic? Home alone? Bored? Looking for something to do to pass the time? No, this isn’t a young adult looking for a date. It may be your dog.

Many dogs suffer this plight every day, and their owners are seeking help. How many sofa covers have you had to buy to cover a chewed-up couch? How many pairs of shoes have you had to replace? You’re not alone. Dogs are highly social animals, and depending on their nature, they may not handle isolation well. We suggest enriching your dogs’ environment. Instead of feeding his breakfast in a bowl, measure out his morning kibble and fill some interactive toys that are meant to be left with your dog while he’s alone. Some well-known types are:

■ The Kong is a hard rubber hollow chew toy that can be stuffed. You can coat the inside of the toy with cream cheese, peanut butter or honey, and fill the space with dry kibble or pack some wet dog food (canned or moistened dry food) inside.

■ The Tug a Jug is a milk bottle-type toy that can be filled with dry kibble.

■ The Chuckle Bone is a dumbbell-shaped toy that can be filled with dry kibble.

■ Hollow beef bones have the same filling process as used with the Kong.

It’s important the toys you purchase (at least three or four) are the appropriate size, safe and designed to be left with an unsupervised dog. If you’re using wet food, throw out any uneaten food at the end of the day and wash out the toy.

Interactive toys give your dog something to do other than wait in silence (or not) for your return. He can toss these toys around or lie down and lick them clean. If you hide them before you leave, he has the additional fun of hunting for his breakfast. You can prepare those that are designed for wet food the night before and freeze them.

Some other tips include exercising your dog before you leave, leaving the TV or radio on in your absence and trying to re-create the same sound environment that he’s accustomed to when you’re at home.

Dog-proof your home by putting away shoes and keeping plants and other dangerous items out of reach. Use baby gates to keep him in a safe place. He trusts you to come home on time to get him outside.

Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 25 years of experience.

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