Leaving your dog at home can be stressful for both you and your pooch. They’re worried that you’re never coming back. You’re worried that you’re going to return to a house that looks like a missile testing site. Here are a few tips to help get you and your latchkey pup more comfortable with leaving them home alone.
Comfort – All dogs need a place where they feel comfortable. Take a queue from your dog’s behavior at home. Perhaps they spend a lot of time in their crate or maybe they prefer to kick back in their dog bed by the back door. You can create a dog-friendly zone in an area of the house where they already feel safe. If your pooch has a history of destructive behavior, you can always reduce access to other areas of the home by shutting doors and using baby gates.
Entertainment – Some dogs are content with simply having the TV or radio on as it makes them think there’s someone home. Other dogs need something more stimulating. You want to redirect any busy behavior to something appropriate like puzzle toys rather than, say, chewing the arms off the living room couch.
Nourishment – Leave plenty of water out for your pup. Unless you have a doggie door, meals should be strategically timed so that whatever goes in has adequate time to, um, go out before you leave them alone.
Exercise – Physical exercise is a great way for dogs to release stress and excess energy. Wear your pooch out with a good game of fetch or take them for a long walk around the block. A relaxed, tired dog is less likely to spaz out and rip down the curtains.
Treats – Food is a huge trigger for some dogs. They will sit, lay down, and work out a geometry problem if it means they get a treat afterwords. If this sounds like your dog, save the treats for when you leave them home alone. Invest in quality treat toys that you can stuff with goodies and hide around the house. If your dog loves hunting, fill up a few baskets with toys and hide a treat-filled toy in the bottom.
Keep It Up
Consistency is key. If you follow a routine when you leave the house, your dog will soon associate your leaving with games and treats instead of anxiety. Start out small in the beginning and leave for short periods of time. If your dog does well, extend your absences.
Check out our blog for more pet-friendly tips!