This week’s theme is an attempt to remind owners of the importance of looking after your pooch when leaving the house. I often get judged for owning a dog but working full time and having to leave Cookie alone in the house for long periods of time. Here are some top tips to make sure your dog is left happy and safe whilst you are out.
Note that it is not advisable to leave puppies alone for more than two hours at a time and even then separation should be trained in gradually before leaving for large chunks of time!
- Tire them out
Taking into account the age, size and health of your dog along with the weather conditions it is important that your walk prior to leaving the house is strenuous enough to result in your dog panting and lying down on return to the house. If you are not sure of how tolerant your dog is to exercise then seek the vet’s opinion.
If there is still time when you get back home then take 20 minutes to play some games as well to tire them out even more!
- Leave them in a safe place
Ensure that your dog is left in a room in the house where it can be least destructive, do not allow them to have access to all rooms in the house as they please – the kitchen is always a good option! Be sure that you clear the room so that there is nothing to tempt the dog into displaying destructive behaviour e.g. cushions or easy to reach food containers! Their bed should be in the room and perhaps their favourite toy (if it is safe to leave them with this). We also put Radio 2 on so that the sounds of the voices provides some comfort. Leave a window ajar (if safe to do so), especially on a warm day, to ensure the dog is kept cool.
Adult dogs need more sleep than you think and although you may assume your dog will be bored at home, they might actually enjoy the time out!
- Engage their brains
There are numerous products out there which can be left out with your dog for some mental stimulation. Remember that 10 minutes of mental stimulation is equivalent to an hour long lead walk so will help in keeping your dog entertained.
Examples include food dispensing toys like the Kong which can be stuffed with your dogs favourite treat, or treat puzzle toys such as Nina Ottosson’s range which come in variable difficulty levels. Be sure that it is safe to leave your dog alone with these toys and that there are no small objects that could cause choking.
- Take precautions
Anti-chew products exist and can be a life saviour for chair legs and skirting board corners! Be sure to follow instructions carefully.
- Employ a dog walker
We have the dog walker 3 days a week; prices should vary from around £10.00 to £15.00 per dog for an hour long walk. Employing a walker will not only allow your dog to relieve themselves sooner but they will also get the chance to spend time with other humans and possibly dogs, so will only act to improve their socialisation skills! If your dog does not enjoy the company of other dogs a walker will usually offer a reduced price service to come to your house and let the dog in the garden for 30 minutes or so.
If you have a higher budget then you could also consider daycare, either at a pet sitters house or at an establishment. Though expensive this will allow your dog to remain in the contact of humans and other pets all day everyday!
Keep an eye out for any signs of separation anxiety, which might include
- Urinating and defecating in the house
- Chewing, Digging and destruction
- Barking and Howling
- Being overly excited on your return
If you are concerned that these signs are present in your pooch, then consult the vet or your local animal behaviourist who can give you some training tips on how to reduce these symptoms.