How To Entertain Your Dog When You’re Busy

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We all love playing with our dogs, but there are times when we aren’t able to give our four-legged friends attention. Whether it is because you’re working out, on a call, or just too drained from the day, it’s good to have a few different options to entertain your dog when you’re busy.

We love this enrichment activity, particularly when we are eating or on a call. It’s easy, our pups love it, and it typically lasts over 15 minutes.

Our tool to entertain your dog when you’re busy

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So what is it? It’s a hollow marrow bone stuffed with treats!

Here’s what you need:

  • Hollow bone (here’s a link at PetCo, although they sell them in a lot of places)
  • Some kind of treat (our dogs love this jerky, but baby carrots work perfectly)
  • Some peanut butter or spray treat (optional, but it helps to keep them engaged)

All you do is put a little bit of peanut butter or spray in the bone, rip the jerky into a few pieces, and then stuff it all in the bone from the wider side. The tighter it fits, the harder it will be for your pup to push out and the longer you’ll be able to entertain your dog when you’re busy!

It takes a few iterations to get a feel for the correct size the jerky (or carrots) should be, but that’s the most difficult part.

Benefits

Chewing makes your dog happy

The biggest benefit for our pups is that chewing makes them happy! Chewing is a behavior that is self-rewarding for our dogs. The act of chewing releases dopamine, the chemical that helps your dog feel content. Besides being bored, that’s why dogs (especially puppies) will go grab your shoe and gnaw on it when you’re not home. It makes them feel happy! 

We know our dogs love chewing bones. We give them one of their favorite chew toys, whether it is a nylon or bamboo bone, and they start gnawing away at it. Whenever we stuff a marrow bone with jerky or a different treat, they love that even more because it becomes a puzzle to get to the good stuff. Having a delicious treat inside the bone can be helpful for your dog to learn to love chewing on bones (if they aren’t really fans of the activity to start). 

If you’re looking for other fun indoor activities to do with your dog, check out our article on our top inside games your dog will love!

Cheap

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Making these filled bones for your pup is very affordable! 

For example, the bone is $6 at PetCo and for the jerky we usually get at least 40 uses (about $0.30 per use). We get the fancy human-grade jerky, but if you find something cheaper, that makes it even less per chewing session.

We get months of use from one $6 bone. It’s hard to beat the value for what it costs.

If you’re looking for other affordable enrichment ideas, check our our guide on how to make your own DIY dog puzzles!

Easy to make

All it takes to make the stuffed bones is a couple of supplies and stuffing them in the bone. All in all, less than a minute or two to entertain your dog when you’re busy for much longer than that!

We use Kong Easy Treat or peanut butter sometimes to make the bones more enticing or just to mix it up.

Check out the video below of how we make it, with our cute girl Primmie eagerly awaiting her bone in the background. 

Great for inside use

Using stuffed bones can make for a great indoor activity to entertain your dog when you’re busy! For those of us who have dogs that don’t like to be outside unless it’s warm or sunny, this is a great alternative to playing fetch outside. They’ll safely burn some energy by happily chewing for 15+ minutes without destroying your shoes or furniture!

It’s nice to have a few options for overly busy or bad-weather days. A week ago, we had a few days where the wind chill was -20°F and there was ice everywhere. In this type of weather, it’s safer to stay indoors and do a lot of activities throughout the day.

Food enrichment such as this stuffed bone, frozen lick mat recipes, or a snuffle mat is a great way to help crate train your dog!

Easy to scale difficulty

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We love that it’s easy to scale the difficulty for the stuffed bones. Varying the treat type/size or the shape of the bone allows for different difficulty levels. 

For example, the bones with openings that are close to the same size all the way through typically will entertain your dog when you’re busy much longer than the ones that have one end much larger than the other. 

Similarly, using a treat like carrots that you can really jam into the bone lasts a little longer than just sweet potato or turkey lunchmeat. Jerky tends to be in the middle of the difficulty scale because it is slightly softer than carrots but more rigid than lunchmeat. 

Recently, Goomba tore his CCL (canine version of ACL, essentially) and meniscus on both back knees. As you can imagine, it was quite hard to find things he could do while we waited for his surgery and during his recovery from it. He’s very active normally and loves to play outside. Stuffed bones and other indoor enrichment that didn’t involve much movement were critical to helping get through those months with as happy a dog as possible. 

Conclusion

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We and our pups both love stuffed bones as a great indoor activity . Goomba & Prim are at the point where they run to their beds when we start putting our food on plates so they can receive their bones as fast as possible! The flexibility of difficulty, options for when you can use them (regardless of weather/location), and very low price make stuffed bones a perfect enrichment tool for keeping your dog happy.

We’d love to see your favorite ways to entertain your dog when you’re busy! Share your photos of your dog trying out stuffed bones or other indoor activities with us on Instagram by tagging @therulybully.

Have fun!

    Lincoln Schaefer

    Hi, I’m Lincoln!  I’m the owner & primary writer here at The Ruly Bully!  My wife and I have two dogs, Goomba & Prim, and a host of other critters in our home.  Feel free to send a message!  We love to hear your stories, too.

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