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Source: Auckland Council

Heading out without your dog? Make sure your dog is happy and engaged while you’re away from home. Bored dogs are more likely to bark or chew things they shouldn’t.

Turning their food into fun with these four simple games can help to keep them occupied.

Give your dog a food puzzle toy

Interactive food puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog busy and mentally stimulated.

You can buy food puzzle toys from any pet store, or make them yourself at home. For example, try cutting several small holes out of a plastic milk bottle. Make the holes slightly larger than pieces of kibble, then pop a handful of food inside. As your dog rolls the bottle around, pieces of kibble will drop out at random.

Another option is to cut a small hole in the side of an old tennis ball, stuff it with treats, and then leave your dog to try and get the food out. Or turn an old muffin tray into a food puzzle by putting food into some of the holes, covering them with tennis balls, and encouraging your dog to figure out where the food is.

Hide treats around your yard

Scatter small amounts of kibble or treats in different spots around your yard for your dog to sniff out. You can make it harder by placing an old towel over some of the food, so your dog will have to root around more to find it.

Give your dog a meat ice block

Try freezing portions of your dog’s meat, so it takes them longer to eat. A frozen marrow bone also makes a great option for gnawing on. These meaty ice blocks are especially good on a hot day.

Hide treats in a DIY digging box

Make an easy digging box out of a cardboard box and some old newspapers. Sprinkle treats into the box, cover in strips of scrunched newspaper, then continue to layer both until the box is full.

Leave a couple of treats easily findable on the top layer to start off with, so they get the hang of what to look for. This enrichment tool keeps them engaged and working for their food, as they have to sniff their way through the layers of paper to find the snacks.

Remember, taking the time to keep your dog happy is worthwhile. Bored dogs can damage your yard and house, bark and cry, and frustrated neighbours might call Animal Control.

A guide for dog owners

Visit the Auckland Council website for all the information you need about owning and looking after your dog in Auckland, including registering your dog, rules on public places, and tips for choosing a dog.

Click here for more.