As a dog owner, you know it can be hard to leave your dog home alone. Worried if they’re going to be anxious, getting up to no good, or thinking you may never return – it is not easy to be apart from your pooch!
Besides concerns about accidents, you obviously love your furry family member so much that thinking they may be stressed can be heart-wrenching. Life naturally gets in the way of always being home with your pup. But… don’t worry! You can take steps to make you and your pooch feel more comfortable when you’re not home.
Things to keep in mind before leaving your dog alone
How long you can be gone, where you keep them, and the steps you should take when leaving your dog alone depend on many factors. Each dog is very unique, and you know your pup best! Let’s talk about things to consider before you leave.
Their bladder – Age and training level are important to keep in mind when heading out of your home. If you have a new puppy who hasn’t been able to grasp house training – and has a naturally weaker ability to hold it when they have to go – you might not want to head out for too long. Similarly, if you have an older dog, they might equally have trouble waiting for extended periods to use the restroom. House-trained dogs don’t want to go to the bathroom in your house and will often only do so if they absolutely must. To avoid this, know your dog’s ability to control their bladder and monitor the timing of your errands. Also, let them out before you go and right when you get back so they can relieve themselves!
Your dog’s anxiety levels – Some dogs are predisposed to higher stress levels and have a bad reaction to experiencing separation anxiety. Inversely, some laid-back dogs might not mind chilling on your couch alone for a few hours and will patiently await your return. Pay attention to your pup’s demeanor and how well you think they can handle extended periods apart. If your dog is naturally anxious, there are also ways you can treat their anxiety for a more permanent solution.
Their typical behavior – If you have a particularly mischievous canine, you might want to take extra caution! Often even the best-behaved dogs can start to exhibit disobedience when feeling separation anxiety. If you have a canine who you know might get up to no good, there are ways you can make their experience better – and keep your home safe from mess!
Tips to make your pup more comfortable
Your dog is completely reliant on you, so it is your job if you’re leaving them alone to make sure they have what they need to feel comfortable, happy, and safe. Giving them the right resources, space, and skills to cope with separation will make going out of the house a breeze!
Crate training – Many experts agree that crate training a new dog is vital for training and helping your dog have their own safe space in your home. Using a crate from the early stages will let your dog know that it is their own private area and they can relax. Dogs are den animals and will appreciate the security of a cozy crate. They will feel safe and secure while you’re out if they’re in their crate. A phenomenal added bonus of using a crate – you don’t have to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn’t. Here’s a crate training guide for you.
Provide distractions and entertainment – If you’re running to the store, headed out to dinner, or off to work, leaving your dog with something to do is functional. After all, boredom can often lead to destruction. Suppose your dog feels frustrated and wants something to do. In that case, it is better that you give them a safe and effective distraction beforehand. Some good examples are puzzle toys, chew toys, or peanut butter-filled Kongs! Keep their safety in mind when choosing something to keep them busy – avoid any choking hazards and don’t give them a toy that requires supervision. Don’t give them anything they could possibly swallow or choke on.
Some people also find that leaving a TV on or playing soothing music in your home can help keep your dog relaxed and content. The sounds of TV or music can make your dog feel less alone. Test this out and see if it makes your pup feel comforted by the noise!
Lots of exercise and activity beforehand – As a dog owner, you know that a tired canine is a relaxed one! Pent-up energy can lead to naughty behavior if they are left unsupervised. Walking, playing fetch, or letting your dog run before leaving can enable them to sleep once you go. If they aren’t adequately tuckered out, they will be even antsier that nobody is home.
Use a dog walker – This step might require more coordination and cost but can be highly beneficial. Especially if you have to leave your pup for the whole work day or an extended period, having someone check-in and take them out will make you feel better and help your dog. Having someone you trust to let them out for a bathroom break and go outside will allow you to be gone even longer without worry.
Keep them in a safe space – If you don’t put your dog in a crate when you leave, it is essential to think carefully about where to put them. For example, you wouldn’t leave a bull in a china shop! Ensure there aren’t objects within their reach that they could break – or worse, ingest. Maintaining a consistent area where you keep them will create a comforting routine for them and positive associations with the area. This way, they know that you are coming back when they are in there, and they can rest.
Leaving them can be guilt-free!
Taking any of these steps can help your dog feel safe and relieve their anxiety when you’re gone. Preventing them from having an accident – whether it’s a chewed sneaker or a mess on the rug – can be done! Making sure your pup is exercised, has gone out to the bathroom, and has a secure space will make the time spent apart a walk in the park! After all, there is nothing better than excessive tail wagging and love when you return from being out.