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How to keep a puppy entertained

Which way to keep your puppy entertained is best?

Puppies are tiny bundles of pure energy and when you don't keep them occupied, they end up getting into mischief. If you don't want your sofa scrabbled and your shoes chewed, learn how to keep your puppy entertained. 

Not only will they be happier and more mentally stimulated when you find different ways to entertain them, some of these activities help you cement your bond with your new canine companion. 

Play games with your puppy

Puppies love to play, so you can keep them entertained and promote bonding by playing together. If you're looking for an easy way to play, consider a tug toy or a ball that you can play fetch with. However, you can also get more imaginative with your games. 

Hide-and-seek is fun to play with a canine partner. Tell your puppy to sit and stay while you hide — or get someone to hold onto your puppy if they don't yet know "stay." Once you've hidden, call your puppy and wait for them to come and find you. Reward them for finding you with a treat

Teach your puppy simple tricks or commands

Starting your puppy young with trick and obedience training sets them in good stead for future learning. Almost as soon as you get your puppy home (after giving them a few days to settle in), you can start with this kind of training. Start with simple tricks and commands, such as "sit" and "shake" and work up to more complex ones, such as "stay" and "speak." 

Keep training sessions short (no more than five to 10 minutes at a time for young puppies) and have plenty of treats on hand as rewards when your pup gets it right. 

Create a canine scavenger hunt

Hide treats and toys around your home or in an enclosed yard to create a scavenger hunt for your puppy pal. If they aren't particularly good at finding, drag treats along the floor before tucking them away, making a scent trail to their hiding spot. If your puppy picks up the trail, they should be able to follow it to where their treats are hidden. 

Make your puppy's mealtimes more interesting

You can keep your puppy entertained and make them work a little more for their food by making their mealtimes more interesting. If they eat dry puppy food, you can put their meal inside a treat-dispensing ball or other puzzle toy. If they eat wet food, extend their meal times with a lick mat, which will force them to slow down, licking their food out from the crevices of the mat.

This is an especially good idea for puppies who wolf down their food and then spend the next half an hour looking for more. That said, you shouldn't feed all your puppy's meals in this way because they should learn how to use a standard dog bowl. 

Try the basics of scentwork with your pup

Scentwork is where your dog uses their nose to find things. Ultimately, dogs experienced at scentwork can find anything they're trained to find, but you should start out with food, because most dogs are already highly motivated to find food and will put in the work to do so. 

The simplest introduction to scentwork for puppies is the "guess which hand" game. Hold a treat in one closed fist (don't let your puppy see which one you put it in) and hold out both fists to your dog. They should naturally start smelling your hands and become more interested in one, indicating that's the hand they think the treat is in. Open your fist and give your dog the treat if they chose the right hand or try again if they didn't. 

Once your puppy has mastered this game, try slightly more complicated scentwork games, such as hiding a treat under one of several upturned paper cups. 

Give your puppy fun toys

You probably don't have the time to play, train and interact with your puppy every waking moment. Choosing an array of fun toys for them to play with keeps them happy and occupied while you're otherwise engaged. There are many types of puppy toys to choose from, including teething toys, plush toys and chew toys.

Some chew toys have hollow centers that you can stuff with peanut butter, meat pastes and other foods of a similar consistency. This means your puppy has to work to get the tasty substance out from inside, keeping them occupied for longer. It's a great solution for puppies who seem to get into trouble as soon as you take your eyes off them. 

What you need to buy to keep your puppy entertained

Kong Puppy Teething Toy

This smaller, softer version of the classic Kong toy can provide hours of fun for your pup. Not only can it be chewed and fetched, you can stuff it with treats and pastes such as peanut butter. 

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Nylabone Teethe ‘n’ Tug Puppy Toy

This is a great interactive toy for playing tug-of-war with your puppy. It also has a ridged surface that can help your puppy with teething discomfort. 

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Chuckit! Indoor Dog Ball

Perfect for entertaining puppies indoors, this ball is soft and padded so it's more difficult to damage your belongings if your aim is off. 

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Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Treat Tumble Ball Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy

This treat-dispensing ball can be filled with treats or your puppy's kibble to extend their meal times and keep them busy. It's great for food-motivated puppies. 

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West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Treat-Dispensing Dog Puzzle Toy

Another treat-dispensing toy, this one wobbles around when your puppy knocks it with their nose or paw, ultimately causing treats to fall out from a small hole in the side. 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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