It’s a challenge many of us face—what to do with your dog when you have to work. Many dogs will cope well when left alone for several hours, but taking precautions to ensure your pooch doesn’t get bored and restless while you’re away will help keep bad behavior to a minimum and provide you with peace of mind. Pet owners have an arsenal of options, from treat toys and tech gadgets to outside help like doggie daycare and dog walkers.
Keeping your dog entertained at home
Chew toys can help keep your dog’s mind occupied for long periods of time and are especially useful if your dog channels their anxiety into chewing things they shouldn’t. It can be a good idea to rotate toys and always ensure any toys left with your dog are safe.
Treat dispensing toys are also a great source of stimulation and distraction, and your pet will quickly learn they will be rewarded for playing with their toy while they’re home alone. These toys come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and complexity levels to give your pet a simple reward or keep them occupied for hours.
You could also create your own homemade toys and hide a few of their favorite toys and treats around the home, to keep them busy while you’re away.
Radio or TV for Dogs
Believe it or not, there’s actually a TV channel, DogTV, and films created specifically for dogs. DogTV has been designed to reduce stress and separation anxiety while providing your pooch with hours of mental stimulation.
The radio or a media player can also be a great option for helping to keep dogs calm during alone time. In fact, classical music can help ease anxiety in dogs. Similar to DogTV, there is even specially designed music for dogs which is believed to help reduce stress.
Not all dogs will watch TV or listen to the radio for entertainment and may prefer access to a window for visual stimulation instead. Watching squirrels in the yard or neighbors passing by will be enough to keep some dogs entertained for hours.
A Comfortable Dog Bed
Many dogs will actually spend a lot of time sleeping when left alone for long periods of time, so investing in a comfortable bed for your dog is a must. Encourage your dog to rest while you are away by setting aside some time for exercise when you are home. Start your morning and end your evening with a regular walk– even if it’s just a short stroll around the block, it will help give your dog a change of scenery.
With the help of gadgets like Nestcam and Petcube, you can watch and even talk to your pet while you’re at work. Whether you want to monitor for signs of bad behavior or just need peace of mind that your dog is safe and content while you’re at work, you can keep track of them through a pet camera linked to your smartphone. Some pet monitoring gadgets even feature laser toys and treat dispensers, so you can play with your pet anytime, anywhere.
Get Help from the Community
If your pet suffers from separation anxiety when left alone for long periods of time, or you’d prefer for someone to keep a closer, watchful eye over your pooch, there are plenty of options.
Enroll in Doggie Day Care
Benefits of daycare boarding include socialization, exercise, and relief from boredom. Doggy daycare also offers one-on-one care and attention for your pet. You can leave your pet in a group play setting or with a private dog sitter during the day through companies like DogVacay.
Hire a Dog Walker
Dog walkers are fairly common and cost-effective option when you have to be away from your pet. They can help ensure your dog gets enough exercise during the day or just give them a mid-day potty break when you can’t get home in time. If your dog struggles with being alone, a trip outside may take their mind off things, and ensuring they are well-exercised will help decrease the chances of them engaging in bad behavior. Be sure to find a good fit for your dog, and ask plenty of questions when you choose a dog walker.
Ask a Neighbor
You may have a neighbor or local friend who is happy to drop in and check on your dog or take them for a walk. They may even have dogs of their own, and your dog can look forward to daily play dates with canine pals.
Bring Your Pet to Work
More workplaces are adopting pet-friendly policies, allowing dogs, cats, and even birds to come to work every day—and it can be easier to implement than you think. Work with your pet on basic obedience so they can be a good coworker and review Trupanion’s workplace culture resources to propose making your workplace friendly for dogs too.
Extra Preparation and What Not to Do
Just because you have to work, doesn’t mean you can’t get a dog, but there are a few extra steps to take before you leave them home alone:
- Make sure you take time to pet-proof. Tuck away any cords, shoes or food left on the kitchen counter. If your pet has a habit of getting into things they shouldn’t, consider securing them in a room or dog kennel while you are away. Don’t leave your pet outside all day while you are away.
- Make sure they don’t have to “hold it” for too long. A dog needs regular potty breaks throughout the day and while an adult dog may be able to hold it for the length of the workday, a puppy’s bladder capacity may only last an hour or two.
Keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior and, if your pet starts to show signs of separation anxiety, ask your veterinarian what steps you can take to help them stay content while you are away.