People have to work to provide for their dogs. While dogs are great companions, they take a great deal of care and a dog left alone for extended periods of time can develop behavior challenges, such as separation anxiety. Taking the time to provide for a dog home alone means the difference between frustration and happiness for all.
Tire dog out before leaving
The very first task in the morning is getting up earlier than usual and providing a long walk, up to an hour each morning. The walk will satisfy and tire the dog, as well as use up excess energy. Dogs typically have the most energy early in the morning and in the evening. If these bursts of energy are satisfied a dog will respond favorably to time alone.
The second task is feeding the dog as a mentally stimulating activity. Vary the pattern and the activity, but as you get ready for work, the dog can work through food puzzles, search games, and treat balls to mentally stimulate them and tire them for the time they’ll be home alone. Food puzzles filled with a dog’s morning meal are great foraging tasks. Fifteen minutes of mentally stimulating activity is as tiring as a 30-minute walk. You can make your own puzzles or purchase wonderfully stimulating activities to bust boredom. Nina Ottoson’s Interactive toy selection is also a great morning and evening or anytime mentally stimulating activity. If you make your own, one idea is to use cups, laundry baskets, small containers to hide things in and under. Use egg cartons and fill each cup with food, then tape the cover so dog has to work to open it. There are a 101 creative ideas for those who take the time to understand how their dog thinks. Treat balls come in a variety of shapes and sizes and provide a great way for the dog to eat their morning meal without gulping and provides a foraging activity as an added benefit.
Prepare dog for his day
Tiring a dog out before leaving for the day may be just enough to help them sleep and relax on their bed, furniture or in a crate or safe room. However, if you are going to be gone more than a few hours, your dog needs energy releases. Four hours is long enough for a social animal like a dog, but eight and nine hours is far too long and there is a need to provide for the dog’s day for their happiness and security.
As you go out the door, do so nonchalantly and occasionally vary the routine used. Put down a toy or two, such as a filled Kong with the rest of the morning’s food. Freezing Kongs ahead of time make it easy to grab and go and will give your dog a solid chew to work tension out of jaws.
If gone for more than four hours it is a good idea to do one or more of several things: if you can and are close, go home for lunch play Frisbee or ball or take another walk, hire a relative or reputable dog walker to do this, if getting home is prohibitive. You can’t put a price on your dog’s happiness. Another idea would be to take the dog to a doggy daycare one or two times a week. The key is to provide for the dog’s day.
There are “timed” toy dispensers and it is also wise to put music and television on a timer. The sound of talking, and soothing music add variety to a dog’s day and relax them. Time each to come on at different times, possibly the same time each day. A good music selection is Through a Dog’s Ear, specifically designed to relax and calm dogs.
Leaving a safe chew out can also be an intermittent boredom buster. Selections could include cows hooves, and pigs ears. These are available in pet stores. If you prepare a dog for his day with dog friendly items and vary them, behavior problems can be avoided because you’ve created a safe, fun, happy environment.
When home for evening
Take time to unwind while dog is going potty and when bringing dog back in, take care of mail, dinner and ease into the evening walk. Wait for the dog to relax a couple of minutes while you attend to after work necessities and then call them over and lavish attention. Do some training, take a long evening walk and have some indoor and/or outdoor play time. A toy box is a great idea for a fifteen-minute interactive playtime providing quality time where you give your dog undivided attention. After fifteen minutes, pick up all toys, select those to keep out for the next day. Then just cuddle after the dog’s dinner.
Like washing your hair, repeat the next day continually searching for new ideas and items to keep your dog occupied and happy. Dogs are very social animals and being alone can cause a lot of tension, stress and anxiety. Doing the above will lessen time away and create a confident, satisfied, happy canine.