While we all wish we could take our dogs everywhere we go, that is not always possible. We have jobs and other responsibilities that require us to leave our dogs at home alone. Owner guilt tends to set in and we worry that we are not being the best pet parents that we could be. However, there are ways that you can get rid of this guilt and set your pup up for success when your schedule is not conducive to bringing your little buddy along.
According to Dr. Emily Blackwell PhD, CCAB, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Welfare, leaving a dog alone should be a normal experience for both you and your pet. Your dog shouldn’t dread the moment you close the door, and neither should you. Preparing dogs to be left alone is great to start doing at a young age but you might not have that luxury if you welcome them into your home at an older age.
No matter what age you start to prep your dog, it is important to teach them that you are coming back! A good way to start is to leave for shorter periods of time. If you leave your dog in a specific room when you venture out, try leaving them in there and going into another room. Then, you can start adding the time alone by leaving and taking a short walk. Soon enough they should understand that although you are leaving you’ll be back in no time and nothing bad happened while you were away.
Still, though, many of us have guilt when we make plans and cannot bring our dogs. We’ve compiled a list of tried and true techniques that people use to erase owner guilt. Many of these things work to not only calm your dog but also to calm yourself!
1. Buy a pet cam!
Some owners dread leaving their pet alone because they are afraid their dog is going to be jumping up on furniture or making a mess. While it is important to implement the proper training regiment to avoid this from happening, many dog owners feel a sense of relief if they are able to see and hear what their dog is doing. There are a number of pet cameras on the market right now. Some even have the capability to send a treat to your dog while you are out, directly from your phone! Check out Petcube, a product that made an appearance on our article The Best Tech Toys for Dogs.
2. Leave the radio or the TV on for them.
Some dogs feel secure if they hear the radio and TV on, even if it is in another room. Test this out and see if your dog is calmed by the background noise.
3. When you head out, it is important to leave your dog with some methods of entertainment.
Leave them with a toy or special bone. If you are leaving them with a bone though, make sure it is not one that they can consume or break off large pieces of. Many people love Nylabone because they do not splinter. Also, filling a kong with dog-approved peanut butter and freezing it is a great treat to leave your dog. It will keep them busy as they soften the peanut butter and enjoy chewing on the toy.
4. As the saying goes, a tired dog is a happy dog.
If you are able, it is a good idea to take your dog for a long walk or a run before leaving them home alone. That way they are able to get out all their energy and are more likely to have a nice, relaxing time while home alone. Understanding how much exercise your actual dog needs is important. With the LINK AKC smart collar, we help you set the perfect daily activity goal and track how your dog achieves it throughout the day.
5. Some dogs have true separation anxiety and may need the company of others to help calm down.
Consider adding another pet to your family or even signing your dog up for doggy daycare. It is a great way for dogs to socialize, and you can feel comfortable knowing that they are having fun during the day.
6. Remember, dogs spend a lot of their time sleeping.
If you are picturing your dog pacing around your house counting down the moment until you return, that is not what is really happening!
We hope this tips and trick help you desensitize your dog to the fear of being left alone, and help give you peace of mind. Get rid of that owner guilt. You’re doing a great job, trust us!