Dogs are very social animals who would like nothing better than being by your side 24/7. But we know (even if they don’t) that dog food doesn’t buy itself, and that this may entail you leaving them home alone while you go off to bring home the bacon (and the dog treats).
Your dog may experience Separation Anxiety. This anxiety might manifest itself as anything from nuisance barking or whining (not good for the neighbours) to stinky surprises left for you when you return home (not good for you). If your dog is one to chew his feelings, you may also find some prized possessions or furniture vandalized during your absence.
What to do? Staying home to watch daytime TV with your lonely pooch every day probably isn’t a long-term solution. So how do you de-stress your dog so you can go about your day without feeling like a monster and he can relax so you come home to man’s best friend instead of man’s craziest co-dependent roommate?
Try these Tips.
Put your dog to sleep (in a good way)
If you want a calm dog, it doesn’t get any calmer than sleep. Before you leave the house, make sure you schedule time for a brisk walk or a vigorous game of fetch in the backyard or nearby park. Having an anxious dog home alone is bad enough. Having a dog that is anxious and hyper is a recipe for disaster. Exercise helps calm your dog down in two ways.
Physically, it tires your dog out, so he might be up for a nap while you’re away – and emotionally, exercise can level out your dog’s brain chemistry in the same way a good workout can leave humans exhilarated.
Love thy neighbour (or dog sitter)
The best-case scenario is you can come home for lunch and spend a little quality time to break up your dog’s day. But if your schedule or commute doesn’t always allow that, you and your neighbours could participate in taking turns to let each other’s pets out when the other one isn’t home. Another option is to ask a local professional dog walker to come by.
More toys, less noise
A bored dog left to his own devices may act out by chewing up your things. Boredom can be as much of a cause for acting out as anxiety. For this reason, it’s vital to leave out your dog’s favorite toys and anything else you can think of that he can use to entertain himself in your absence. Toys make great diversions. Aside from keeping him away from your toys, you’ll provide distraction for your dog during the day, so he won’t be as anxious about you being gone. One word of caution: don’t rely on toys with treats hidden in them. Once the dog eats the treat (which could be in minutes), he’ll grow bored and move on to the furniture.
Is two company or double trouble?
A common solution that many pet owners advocate is to adopt a second dog to keep the first one company. This can be a great idea – or a big problem. There are many variables to consider, including the size, gender, breed, and temperament of your dog and of the potential new dog. Talk to your veterinarian about whether a second dog is a good idea for your current dog and what you should look for in a new companion. Adopting a second dog can bring a lot of happiness into everyone’s life, but it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. You don’t want to be faced with a situation where you have fighting dogs or be forced to re-home a second dog who didn’t work out.
If you currently don’t have a dog, and you’re considering adopting one, think about whether your lifestyle is conducive to sharing your life with a dog. If you think your potential pet might be spending time home alone, that should factor in your decision when choosing your new friend. Look at breeds that are more low-energy and don’t need as much exercise or outdoor time. Better yet, consider adopting an older dog. Many older dogs have difficulty being re-homed, but could be a perfect fit for you. They typically are much calmer than puppies, and many are already housetrained. So don’t pass up a dog just because he’s been around the block a couple of times—it may mean he’s ready to take it easy.