5 Tips for Entertaining a Bored Bully
Summer will be over before we know it, and the kids will be going back to school. For many families, that means overloaded schedules. Running the kids back and forth to ball practice, then homework, dinner, bathing the kids, and bedtime.
But what about the family pet? Making time for your bully can be tough sometimes, and when your schedule gets crazy, your bulldog may have to spend time alone. Do you ever worry that he gets bored and lonely? Do you ever feel guilty that you’re not giving him enough attention?
Taking time out for your bulldog can be hard at the end of an exhausting day, but there are plenty of ways to meet his needs, even when life gets hectic. If your bully is bored, here are some ways that you can bring some excitement to his life!
Doggy Day Care
Working full-time can mean long, lonely days for your bully. But taking your bulldog to day care 2 or 3 times a week is a great way for him to have fun while you are slaving away at the office!
How do you find the best day care for your bully? Here’s a checklist:
Vaccinations. Does the day care require that all dogs are up to date on their shots and parasite-free? This is non-negotiable. You take your beloved bully to day care for a fun day out, not to get sick! A good doggy day care will require that your bully and all the other dogs on site have proof that their vaccinations are current.
Trained Staff. You should expect more than a dog sitter. It takes specialized skills to manage multiple dogs in a social setting, and a good doggy day care will have certified dog trainers on staff. Ask about the qualifications of the day care workers, and don’t be afraid to ask for proof of their credentials!
Emergency Plan. Is the day care prepared for a health emergency? Staff members should know pet CPR and first aid, and they should practice them regularly. What about veterinary care? A good doggy day care will have a nearby vet clinic on standby in case of an emergency. Ask about the facility’s emergency plan, including details for how they would transport your bully if he had an urgent medical problem while he was in their care.
Number of Employees. What is the dog-to-trainer ratio? Every trainer should have no more than 15 dogs in her care at any given time, but lower numbers are preferable. What about backup staff? Make sure that the day care has enough employees on duty so that they can cover for one another as needed. Who watches the dogs when a trainer goes on break? How many employees will be left at the day care if one has to leave to take a dog for urgent care? Are “backup” staff members trained and certified?
Cleanliness. Good cleaning practices are essential in order to prevent cross-contamination among the dogs. Do employees clean up messes promptly, and what type of cleansers do they use? Disinfectants should be strong enough to kill germs, but not so harsh that they are dangerous to your bully’s health.
Facilities. The play areas will be the focal point, but a good doggy day care will have a fenced outdoor area for bathroom breaks. And what’s the game plan when your bulldog needs rest? Your bully will need a safe and comfortable place to relax and nap during the day. Does the day care have adequate places for the dogs to sleep? Are they clean and monitored by staff?
Play Groups. How does the day care select play groups? Are the big dogs separated from small breeds? Are dogs assessed for aggression and matched according to their play style and energy level? Give careful consideration to the way the dog trainers group and introduce dogs. Dogs should not just be thrown together in a play area; they should be introduced carefully and methodically for safety.
Philosophy. What is the staff’s approach to training and dog handling? Good doggy day cares only use positive reinforcement techniques, and the staff should have an obvious love and enthusiasm for dogs. Harsh discipline, yelling, and rough physical encounters are NEVER acceptable.
Communication. A good doggy care should encourage communication between you and the staff. If your dog is involved in a dog fight, you should be notified. And your presence at the day care should be welcomed. Ask if you are allowed to visit and observe play time.
References. When you audition a doggy day care, don’t be afraid to ask for references! Other customers can offer helpful information. Ask them if they have ever had any negative experiences, and what they wish the day care would do differently.
Doggy day care won’t replace quality time for you and your bully, but it can be a great addition to his weekly schedule. Finding a safe and fun doggy day care requires some research, but your bully is worth it!
Did you know your bully can have a happy day even when he’s home alone? There are plenty of ways to stimulate your bulldog and keep him busy while you’re away at work for the day! You can enrich his environment to make sure he doesn’t get bored while he’s by himself.
Here’s how you do it:
Special Toys. Limit your bully’s access to some of his toys so that he is only allowed to have them when you are gone for the day. This will make the toys “special.” And rotating the toys so that you give your bulldog different ones each day of the week will help prevent boredom. Don’t forget that the more you handle your bully’s toys, the more he will enjoy them… because they will smell like you! And your bully will be less anxious when you leave for work if you offer him a toy that he loves.
Music. Stimulate your bully’s sense of hearing by leaving music playing for him while you are gone! Audio books and TV work well too. For an extra special day, record your child reading a book and play it for your bully while he’s alone. The sound of a familiar voice will soothe him!
Hide-and-Seek. Hide a few toys and/or treats around the room. Your bully will have fun sniffing out his prizes while he’s home alone!
Aromatherapy. Try sprinkling some lavender oil or spices on your bully’s bedding. Stimulating his sense of smell is another way to enrich his environment and keep your bulldog engaged during your long days at work!
Indoor Dog House. Your bully will benefit from having a variety of indoor hangouts to enjoy. A plush indoor dog house or doggy teepee will give your bulldog the option to enjoy a change of scenery during his time alone at home.
Nylon Chewies. Nylon bones are great because they practically last forever! Unlike other chewies that your bully can consume in a few hours, nylon chewies will last for weeks. They are also great for your bully’s dental health!
Treat Puzzles. Want to give your bully an activity that he can enjoy when you’re not home? Try a treat puzzle! It will engage and reward his problem-solving skills, and keep him busy when you’re not available to play. A variety of treat-dispensing toys and puzzles are available for sale, but making them yourself is a fun and affordable option. Do you enjoy DIY projects? Here are some treat puzzles you can make at home:
Muffin Tin Puzzle #1. Place a small treat or piece of kibble in the bottom of each muffin cup, and then top each one with a ball. Your bully will have a blast figuring out how to remove the ball and score a yummy snack!
Muffin Tin Puzzle #2. Turn a muffin tin upside down on the floor and place several pieces of kibble between the raised muffin cups. Your bully will have to use his brain power to figure out how to scoot and nudge the kibble between the muffin “obstacles.” But when he frees a piece of kibble from the muffin tin maze, he will have a tasty reward!
PVC Pipe Puzzle. Drill several holes into a foot-long piece of PVC pipe, and then firmly attach ends to each piece of the pipe. Use the drilled holes to insert a few pieces of kibble or small treats into the pipe. Now you have a treat-dispensing puzzle! Your bully will be able to smell the treats and hear them rattling around inside the pipe, but he won’t be able to free them until he moves the PVC around on the floor. As the treats are released from the holes in the PVC, your bully will be motivated to play even more!
Your bully doesn’t have to be bored and lonely just because you’re at work all day. You can enrich his environment and give him the tools to entertain himself while he’s alone! If you want to really stimulate your bulldog, you should appeal to all his senses. New sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and fun things to feel will keep your bully entertained and engaged until you get home from work!
Schedule a Play Date
Does your bully have a best dog friend? Then why not let him play at his friend’s house while you are at work? And then you can return the favor by hosting play dates at your house as well.
Here are some tips for a successful play date:
Find the Right Match. Size matters, but it’s not the only important thing to consider when choosing a playmate. Dogs of the opposite sex tend to make better playmates than dogs of the same sex. You may be surprised to learn that this rule still applies when one or both dogs are spayed or neutered.
When pairing dogs of the opposite sex, it can lead to a whole new set of problems if you are not careful. If your bully is an unspayed female, you need to take into consideration her reproductive cycle when planning a play date.
Avoid play dates when your female is in season or in the late stage of pregnancy. Finding the perfect playmate is a good start for planning a play date, so what’s next?
Health Matters. One way to prepare for a fun play date is to make sure your pup’s playmate has a responsible pet owner. You work hard to protect your bully’s health, and you want to make sure that your dog’s playmate is healthy too! Talk to the pet owner about her dog’s vet care. Here are the things you need to know: Is the playmate current on his shots? Does he have fleas? Is the dog worm-free?
You may feel a little awkward, but if the pet owner is responsible, she will completely understand your concern. I like to take a non-confrontational approach.
Instead of asking a bunch of questions, I have a conversation with the pet owner about my vet care protocol. Usually the conversation will naturally lead to the pet owner’s sharing her information as well.
Neutral Territory. The problem with hosting a play date at your house is that your bully is the king of his castle. Your dog may be mild-mannered, but bringing a new dog into your home can bring out his inner beast.
There are a couple easy steps you can take to convert your living room into neutral area for a play date. Make sure you completely remove your dog’s food and treats from the area, and you also need to put away all the dog toys.
That probably seems like a weird step to take for a play date, but toys are serious business to dogs. You can introduce toys after the dogs meet and settle down, and after you have a chance to assess their behavior.
Keep Calm. One of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful play date is relax. It’s only natural to feel excited, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you. If you are feeling anxious, your dog will sense it and will become anxious as well.
Your dog’s behavior will reflect your energy, and if you are concerned, your dog may think you feel threatened by his new playmate. If your dog’s protective instinct is triggered, he will be in no mood to play. So just remember the point of the play date; it’s to have fun!
Start with Leashes. Leashes are essential when introducing your dog to his new playmate. Sniffing his playmate is your dog’s version of a handshake, and you need to give your dog and his playmate the freedom to check each other out.
The leash is simply a precaution in case either of the dogs suddenly displays aggression. Once the dogs have enough time to get acquainted and show you that they are friendly, you can remove the leashes.
Don’t try to force an interaction between your dog and his new playmate. You want to take your cues from him, and he may not be comfortable enough to start playing right away.
Respect your dog’s boundaries and those of his playmate, and let him and his new friend initiate contact and play.
A play date is a great way to exercise your bully and satisfy his social needs. Once you’ve found a good playmate for him, you and the playmate’s owner can alternate hosting play dates. That will give your bully the opportunity to have a fun day with a friend while you are away at work!
Hire a Professional
Hiring the services of a responsible dog walker or dog sitter is another way for your bulldog to have fun when you’re busy. Your vet may be able to recommend someone with a good reputation, or you can check a professional pet sitter association online. In addition, there are several websites where dog sitters and dog walkers advertise their services, rates, and qualifications.
Here are some things to consider before you hire:
Proof of Insurance. A qualified pet sitter will have liability insurance that covers accidents and negligence. Also, if the pet sitter is going to be in your home, she will need to provide proof that she is bonded, which protects you against theft.
Qualifications. Loving dogs is important, but a good dog sitter or dog walker needs more than just a love for animals. Find out about her experience with animals, and if she knows how to take care of your dog in case of emergency. Does she know pet CPR and first aid?
Recordkeeping. A good dog sitter will keep records regarding your bully. She will make notes regarding his health, medications, phobias, allergies, likes, and dislikes.
Transportation. What will happen if your bully is involved in an accident or has a health emergency? A qualified pet sitter or dog walker will have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license. She should make an effort to learn the name and location of your bully’s vet, as well as the nearest vet emergency clinic.
Outsourcing. Does the dog sitter or dog walker intend to provide all your services herself, or does she have employees to whom she will delegate your bully’s care? If she has a staff, what are their qualifications and certifications? What can she do to ensure you of her staff’s competency?
Contract. Once your find a good sitter for your bully, you should consider a contract to establish the services and pay. This will help prevent any misunderstandings regarding expectations, and also define the sitter’s responsibilities for the protection of your bulldog and home.
Schedule. Make sure your schedule is compatible with that of your pet sitter or dog walker. Also, discuss your expectations for the amount of time you expect her to spend with your bully, as well as any preferences you have regarding the time of day you want her services. If you are hiring someone to take your bully out for a bathroom break while you are at work, you don’t want her to wait until an hour before your get home from work. Agree to a schedule that will best serve your bully’s needs.
References. A good pet sitter will provide you with a list of references, and it’s worth your time to check them out. Make sure that her other clients are happy with her services, and that the clients have never had any problems with either their pets or their homes.
Let Your Bully Help! You should never hire a dog sitter or dog walker without first introducing her to your bulldog. You need an opportunity to observe her with your bully, and see if she treats him with love, kindness, and respect.
Does she appear to have patience? Is she hands-on with your bully? And don’t forget that your bully is a good judge of character too. Watch closely how your bulldog responds.
The whole reason that you’re doing this is so that your bulldog can have fun while you are busy. You want a responsible pet care professional, and you also want someone that your bully enjoys.
There’s No Such Thing as Too Careful
Hiring a dog sitter or a dog walker is a great way to entertain your bully when your schedule gets busy. But safety, not fun, is your first priority. Take the time to make sure that you are hiring a knowledgeable and responsible professional who has a true love for animals! Bulldogs have specific characteristics and needs, and you want to make sure you choose someone who is a good match for your pet.
Could It Be Time for Another Pet?
You and your family can meet all of your bully’s needs for love and attention without ever adding another pet to your household. And if you are already struggling to find enough time to spend with your bulldog, getting another pet is a bad idea.
But if you have plenty of time for your bully most days, then another pet can provide companionship during those times when you are not around. You may find that adding another dog to your family is just what you need to entertain your bully when you are busy!
If you have determined that you have the money, time, and attention to devote to a new dog, then how can you make sure that your bully will love the new dog as much as you do? Well, you can never be 100% sure, but there are plenty of things you can do to help your bully and a new dog live in harmony!
Here’s how to get started:
Picking the right dog. Make sure that you choose a dog that does not have a history of dog aggression. Also, choosing a dog that is already spayed or neutered will reduce the chances that the new dog has problems with your bully.
Respect Your Bully’s Boundaries. It’s always important to remember that your bully may feel territorial over your home, your family, and his belongings. The best place to introduce your bully to a new family dog is away from your house. Make sure both dogs are leashed, and give them the opportunity to observe each other from a distance at a neutral location.
Be prepared to reward each dog with treats for calm behavior. Both dogs should remain leashed throughout the process, and they should be walked in a common area with plenty of distance between them. Forcing an introduction too soon is never a good idea; time and patience are the keys to a smooth and successful introduction.
Respect the boundaries of each dog, and pay careful attention to their body language. If they remain calm in the presence of one another, continue to reward them. Don’t allow a stare down or a standoff. Gradually allows the dogs to walk in areas that are closer to one another until they are able to walk calmly together.
Continue rewarding the dogs in order to reinforce their good behavior, and remember to take your time. If either dog shows signs of aggression at any point during the meeting process, then redirect his attention and start the process over from a greater distance apart.
Bringing Your New Dog Home. You need to make your home as neutral as possible by initially removing any toys, foods, or treats that your dogs could fight over. You should always start the dogs out in separate rooms, and a strong baby gate is the best way to keep them apart. A baby gate will give them the chance to observe and smell one another while being safely separated.
As with the first introduction, time and patience are important. You don’t want to rush moving the dogs into the same space, and you don’t want to leave them alone together until you are sure that they are safe with each other. You should continue to reward calm and positive behavior with plenty of treats.
Once the dogs have demonstrated that they have no aggression toward one another, you can move them into the same space. You should continue to closely monitor their interactions, and be sure to keep your kids at a safe distance until you have established that the dogs are friendly with each other.
If either dog is persistently aggressive despite giving him plenty of time and positive reinforcement, you should keep the dogs safely separated until you can consult with a professional trainer for assistance.
Two Times the Love
Adding another pet to your family is never a decision to be taken lightly. But if you have the resources, time, and attention to devote to a new pet, you may find that your bully’s new companion will help keep him entertained when you are busy. And once you are sure that both dogs know the house rules, they can keep each other company when you are not at home!
If You’re Worried That Your Bulldog Is Bored and Lonely
I have a busy schedule, but I can almost always make time to devote to my beloved bully. Every once in a while though, I have late work meetings, and that’s when I worry that my bulldog could be lonely and bored.
Every family is different, but we all have one thing in common. Sometimes, life can be hectic! And even the best dog owners can have days when they don’t have enough time to devote to their pets.
When your schedule gets too busy, your bully doesn’t have to suffer! There are plenty of things you can do to make sure he is entertained when your time is consumed by work or family. With a little planning and preparation, you can make sure that your bully gets the attention that he deserves.
Whether it’s a trip to doggy day care or a play date with a new friend, your bully will love the adventure! You can be guilt-free and have peace of mind knowing that your bulldog is happy, even when you can’t be with him.