Tips for Leaving a Dog Home Alone
Although leaving a dog home alone for long periods might be far from dog owners’ minds in the midst of a pandemic, part of the world returning to normal will involve preparing your dog for that change in your time spent together.
Work with your new puppy or adult dog now to alleviate separation anxiety in the future. When you leave a dog or puppy alone, there’s not much that you can do for them. But right now when you are there together, there are many behaviors that you can work on to improve the quality of their alone time in the future.
We know that you love your dog like a family member and want them to be well taken care of, even when you are not there. Here are just a few tips for leaving a dog at home, including some actionable steps to start today that will set you up for a better future with your dog.
Use Music Cues to Help Calm Their Nerves
Just like their furless best friends, research shows that dogs do enjoy music and will react to it on an emotional level. You can use this psychological trait to your advantage by conditioning your dog with calming music, a sound machine, or the tv on a music channel.
Make a habit of turning on calming music or a sound machine when you are getting ready for bedtime or relaxing while your dog snuggles up to you on the couch. If you sleep with the sound of ocean waves or rainfall playing at night, even better. You can use these sounds to create pleasant and calm memories for your dog to associate those songs and sounds with a time of rest and relaxation.
By creating this connection between calming music and a good time for a dog-nap, you can condition your dog’s involuntary nervous system to relax when it is played. Even if you are spending a lot of time at home right now, with music conditioning you will be preparing your fur baby for a better experience the next time that they are left behind for a significant amount of time.
Create a Space of Comfort for Them
In tandem with a soundtrack that is on point, you will want to provide your dog with a prime napping place where they feel safe. This space will allow them to take full advantage of those audio cues while you’re off during the workday or out at the bar half the night.
Particularly if you have a small pen or doggy kennel where your dog will be contained while you are away, you want to ensure that this is a place of comfort for them.
The negative reaction that some dogs have towards kennels is the feeling of being locked inside, but you also have the opportunity to create a refuge where your dog feels protected and content instead. Theoretically speaking, a small and cozy kennel can remind your dog of their instinctual nature to seek out caves and their innate memories of a small protected womb. That’s one of the reasons why crate training a new dog is so important.
To help create this positive environment, the space should be accessible for naps and lounging even while pet owners are there at home. Put a calming dog bed inside. This way they have the opportunity to associate positive memories with spending time there.
Pet parents should make sure there are plenty of soft and snuggly items provided as well as a few special toys for comfort. Encourage your dog to nap there by sitting nearby and establishing early on that this is a safe space for them.
Set Aside Special Toys and Dog Treats for Alone Time
If your dog isn’t one for a catnap during the day, you can create another more active association for them by bringing out a special chew toy or dog food treat that they only get to play with during their alone time.
Puzzle toys that stash treats inside, large juicy bones to slowly gnaw on, or peanut butter in a hard-to-reach kong toy are all excellent things to keep your dog occupied while you are out and about. A treat-dispensing toy filled with kibble is a great way to give them mental stimulation at home while you are away.
A bored dog can get into all kinds of trouble. New toys like hide-and-seek dog toys or treat puzzles are fun ways that can help prevent destructive behavior as well.
If they only have access to the delectable dog bone, special treat, or exciting toy when you are away, they are more likely to take advantage of the time that they have to engage with these special toys and treats.
Boredom Busters for Dogs Home Alone
A tired dog is a happy dog. And there’s no healthier way to tire out your dog’s brain than to provide them with a good dose of daily mental stimulation. Keep your dog active mentally and prevent dog boredom with these interactive toys.
Treat Tumble Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy, Red, Large
The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Treat Tumble is a perfect puzzle ball for any pup! A level 1 treat-dispensing dog puzzle, the Treat Tumbler will keep your dog intrigued as they roll the ball and sniff around to find ways to release the reward. Easy to fill with two treat-dispensing holes. Made with food safe BPA-free plastic that is easy to wipe clean for outdoor and indoor fun!BEGINNER’S PUZZLE…
Orka Jack Treat-Dispensing Dog Chew Toy, Multi
The Petstages Orka Jack dog toy doubles as a chew toy and a treat dispenser, making it a favorite among furry friends of all shapes and sizes. Made from durable TPE rubber material, the Orka Jack dog toy is soft enough to be gentle on the gums but tough enough to endure multiple sessions of chewing. Easy to fill holes on the ends of this dog chew toy can be stuffed with your pup’s favorite kibble to keep…
Treat Maze Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy, Green
The Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Treat Maze is a level 2 game perfect for pet owners needing an enticing solo game to reduce destructive behavior and boredom for their pups. Great for pups who have mastered level 1 games and are ready for an added challenge! This brightly colored dog puzzle game is easy to fill with treats and can be shaken to release the scent in case you pup hasn’t already noticed! The…
Challenge Slider Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy, Multi
The Challenge Slider dog puzzle from Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound is an advanced level 3 game designed for pups who have mastered levels 1-2. This dog toy will promote the mental wellbeing of your dog by keeping them active and engaged while sniffing, nudging, and pawing for hidden treats! A sliding tray pulls out from underneath with 24 compartments that can hold up to 1 cup of food total…
Establish a Longstanding Relationship with a Dog Walker, Dog Sitter, Dog Trainer, or Daycare
Sometimes, there is just nothing that you can do to prevent long days at the office or away from home. If you work full-time, it is unrealistic to expect any pooch will remain content and happy while left alone for longer periods of time—no matter what music you play or what toys you leave for them. They are social animals who crave social interaction and physical exercise.
The good news is that you do not have to rely on conditioning alone to set your dog up for success when you have long days away from home.
Establishing an ongoing relationship with a mid-day pet sitter of sorts, a reliable and trusted dog walker or a quality daycare is a great way to get peace of mind that your dog gets the care, socialization, and attention that they need even when you are not around to give it to them.
In addition to long walks and playtime, this also provides a much-needed opportunity for poops and potty breaks that older dogs and young puppies alike will appreciate. Energetic dog breeds like border collies especially need the mental and physical stimulation.
The first time they meet this new person or place may be scary, so make sure to start in small doses. Introduce your dog to the dog walker early on to establish trust and comfort with them.
In the beginning, they could come over for a playdate and toss a tennis ball for them to cover a short break in the day while you run some errands, or just to take your pup for a walk while you take care of chores at home. For a doggie daycare, drop your dog off for short visits or any length of time to get them used to the place.
When the time comes for you to return to long days away from home and your furry best friend, you will be glad that you put in the time to help them develop this relationship with a person who will take care of your dog’s needs.
Let Them Know You’ll Always Come Back
Although our human lives occasionally pull us away from our furry friends for hours at a time, we hope that these tips help to ease that tension for your beloved dog. Who knows, they may even learn to enjoy the “me time” with good music, favorite dog toy, a nice snack to chew on, and a chill nap.