With schools and offices becoming a part of our daily lives again, are you and your pet ready for the readjustment? Whether a new puppy joined you during lockdown, or your older dog has just grown accustomed to you being at home during the day, the sudden lack of company can lead to separation anxiety and less-than-ideal behavioural problems in your pet.
Working Together to Ease the Shift
From accidents, chewing on furniture, barking, and more, transitioning your pet through this period and understanding their limits of alone time is crucial. But, how do you know how long you can leave your dog home for? This all depends on their individual needs - from bladder control, separation anxiety, and your own personal capabilities. The following are some tips for helping your puppy or dog readjust and be comfortable with being left home alone longer than they're used to.
1. Start Your Daily Schedule Now
Most pets are creatures of routine, so the main objective is to start mimicking your day before it actually gets started. Setting the usual alarm to wake up, showering and getting dressed, working during the hours you normally would, and feeding/walking/playing with your pet on your work schedule all help ease the shift for when you do actually leave.
2. Build Up To Leaving Your Dog Alone
If you and your family have been at home for the better part of the past year and a half, the best way to start leaving again is to... start leaving again! Introduce your dog to the idea of being on its own by:
- Making store trips longer
- Going to see friends or family
- Working in a separate room with the door closed
Build up slowly, such as 1 hour/day for a week, then 2 hours/day the next, and so on.
3. Is your Space Safe?
Whether a designated room or introducing a crate (also a great tool for potty training), make sure to leave your puppy or dog in a comfortable space. Some dogs love their crate, while others get anxious and loud. Some dogs will stay quiet with a window, and others will bark at everyone who walks by. If a crate doesn't work, a baby gate will help keep your dog home safe in one room without closing them behind a door. Finding out the most successful environment for your pet is the most productive way to leave your dog alone at home.
4. Keep Your Pup Busy
Dogs have a natural desire to chew, but did you know it's also a great way to maintain their dental health? The type of chew you select will depend on your pet's preference and how long it takes them to get through it. Harder chews will last longer for more enthusiastic chewers, but other dogs may take all day to eat a soft chew. As always with treats, make sure to account for the calories in chews so your dog doesn't gain any weight!
Performatrin Ultra Limited Natural Beef Tartar Buster Bone
Performatrin Ultra Limited Natural Beef Bully Braid
Performatrin Ultra Hide-Free Stickz Chicken Recipe 5in
Performatrin Ultra Mint Dental Chew Dog Treat Small
5. Pup Boredom Busters
Does your dog enjoy a challenge? Chew toys and treat puzzles are another great option to keep your dog busy and mentally stimulated. Pets love engaging play time or the fun of searching for their food.
6. Sounds Can Soothe a Dog Home Alone
Many studies have shown that people talking on TV, or music can be very calming for dogs. Find a genre or show that captures your pet's attention (but not one that excites them or makes them bark). Classical music is touted as the popular soother, but every dog may have different preferences. White noise can also be a useful soothing tool while your pup is on its own.
7. Fresh Air & Exercise
A long walk before work, or if possible, on your lunch break, will help tire your dog out and keep the peace while you're gone. If you're not around during this time, and if it's within your budget, a dog walker or doggy daycare is the best and easiest way to keep your dog entertained and ensure no accidents happen while you're gone all day. Even if it's only once or twice a week, the social stimulation, especially being around other dogs, can make a huge difference.
8. Further Help for your Furry Friend
While the above are good guidelines, if your dog has more serious separation anxiety or behavioural problems, talking to your vet or looking into a dog trainer will be your biggest asset. You can always set up a camera to record what happens when you're out, and you can learn more about your dog's behaviour and how they handle you being gone.
We hope your transition back to work or school goes smoothly. Just like you, your dog has become used to the new world of social distancing, and they'll need a bit of extra help returning to "normal"!