A question we get a lot from dog owners is whether it’s okay for their dogs to be left at home during the day. It’s easy to feel a bit guilty when we are about to depart and our furry ones look so sad. But there is a benefit in leaving your pet alone from time to time. It can boost confidence and give your pet a sense of security in the home, as well as avoid separation anxiety down the road.
There is also the risk of too much time spent alone, which can lead to behavioral problems. The team at Summeridge Animal Clinic is here to discuss how to leave your pet alone, so that they remain happy and engaged, without feeling the anxiety of separation.
The Attachment Conundrum
To understand your fur pal, you must understand that they are driven by a pack mentality. This is why you see wolves roaming in numbers, rather than hunting as solitary animals. Domestic dogs were bred for this trait because they have loyalty with their pack, which means us now.
Dogs are highly social creatures who crave togetherness because it gives them comfort and security. But they can be trained to spend time on their own with some patience and consistency.
Safe and Happy Ways to Leave Your Pet Alone
The transition from hanging out with your pet fulltime to your being gone all day should be gradual. This reduces the fear in pets and acclimatizes them to being home without you. Here are a few recommendations on making for a smooth transition.
- Start early. Start your pet on the new schedule as soon as you know about it. If you anticipate being gone for several hours, then start leaving your pet alone for an hour or two while you run errands. Increase this to a morning out on a day trip or outings, so your pet can gradually adjust.
- Crate train your pet. If you haven’t had your pet crate trained, this is a great idea. It gives them their own little “den” where they can hang out and feel safe. Use toys, treats, and meals in the crate as incentives for spending time there.
- Offer lots of enrichment. Dogs will naturally get bored without things to do, such as toys and treat dispensing puzzles. Some dogs like to look outside, so leave at least one curtain pulled open for their viewing entertainment.
- Reward your departure. Give your pet a treat when you leave. To give them something to do, you can offer a dental chew or Kong toy filled with something tasty.
- Minimize the goodbye and hello. When you leave, take care not to pay attention to any whining or sad looks, but focus more on the treat they are about to get. If you’re cautious about leaving, it may amplify anxiety in your furry one. Likewise, when you get home, downplay the arrival by going about your business, feeding your pet, or going on a brisk walk with them.
Keep in mind that if you spend more than 8 hours a day at work, this is too much home alone time for your pet. Consider taking them to a doggie daycare or hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to come by around lunch.
It’s hard to leave your pet alone, but they should feel safe, happy, and loved enough to deal with the separation. It’s just a matter of making sure they have things to do to occupy their home time.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us!