While all of us wish we could stay at home every day with our dogs, it’s just not always possible. We have to leave, sometimes for hours at a time, and we can’t always take the dog with us. Volunteer Olivia Myers shares some tips to help make your dog’s stay at home without you as comfortable as possible.
First off, don’t leave your pet in poor conditions. This includes cages that are too small, outside in inclement weather, or chained up. Also, make sure they have access to clean drinking water at all times.
If you’ll be putting your dog in a crate for several hours, try to exercise him well before doing so. Whether it’s a 30 minute walk or playing fetch for an extended amount of time, this will help your dog release some energy and wear him out before he spends all day in a crate. If you’re able, try to return home and let him out to relieve himself at least once during the day. Your dog doesn’t like to hold it in for eight hours, just like you.
You can also try giving your dog a toy he loves only when he’s in the crate. This will help him learn that the crate is not a bad thing and rewards him for staying in it all day. Toys that stimulate him mentally and are somewhat challenging yet rewarding are a great choice as it will keep him entertained for an extended period of time. A Kong filled with frozen peanut butter, or a food puzzle, can keep your dog happily occupied while you leave.
If you don’t want to crate your dog, you can try leaving in one room, behind a baby gate, or let him loose in the house. This can be scary at first as a pet owner, so be sure to put away anything you wouldn’t want the dog to chew up. Some dogs are perfectly fine roaming through the house all day, while other dogs may suffer from separation anxiety or pent up energy and be somewhat destructive. This may change with age and time spent with your dog, so even though it may not work at first, you can continue to try again until you feel comfortable with your dog being outside of the crate. A good dog trainer or behaviorist can help you work on your dog’s separation anxiety.
You may also consider hiring a dog walker to visit your dog for a walk and some play time. This will help break up the time for the dog, as well as letting him relieve himself and burn off some energy, all of which makes for a happier dog.
As always, when considering adopting a new dog into your family, it’s important to think about what your plan is for leaving them during the day so that you can make the best choice for your situation.