Leaving for work in the morning sometimes isn’t a happy experience for many folks. It’s not that you don’t love your job necessarily but you hate it when you have to leave your pets home alone, just like when folks have to leave their little kids behind. A lot of animals aren’t particularly fond of it either. Many dog lovers tell how sad they (and their dogs) feel when they go out of the house for their jobs, on errands, or even to have some fun on their own. More activities are becoming dog-friendly but for the most part, time outside the home is time that you don’t get to spend with your dog.
Dogs have very little to occupy their time while you’re gone, especially if they’re the only pet in the household. We’re their entertainment. Some dogs are content to nap away their day while you’re away. Other dogs have a much harder time coping with the situation when they’re home all alone. These dogs can suffer from boredom, stress or separation anxiety.
How do you know if your dog is unhappy about being left alone?
Some dogs make their displeasure quite obvious by leaving behind a trail of destruction. You could return home to find your furniture or personal belongings chewed up, the garbage ransacked, paper or pillows chewed to shreds, or you may find that your dog has vomited, urinated or defecated in the house. Some dogs eat everything in sight when you’re away, and others become almost anorexic. Some dogs groom themselves incessantly to calm their nerves. Others vocalize their dissatisfaction by howling, whining and barking while you’re away. And if you have neighbors nearby, you’re sure to hear about it!
If your dog is bored, anxious, depressed or destructive while you’re away, “environmental enrichment” can help. This is the act of adding interesting items to your dog’s surroundings to safely entertain them. When you give your dog plenty of fun things to do and see, his unhappy time alone can be transformed into a very satisfying day. Here are some suggestions:
• Hire a dog walker, even if it’s every so often
• Invest in doggy day care at least a couple of days a week
• Leave plenty of fun toys for your dog (like puzzle toys that you fill with treats, or even the newer created interactive toys they enjoy for hours of fun)
• Tire him out with some active play before you go
I’m fortunate my three girls, while not necessarily liking whenever I go out, do not destroy nor ruin anything in the house. The worst they do, which is actually good to me, is that they leave all their toys all over the living room. But then I know that they’ve been playing and having fun which is so good for them. And what I’ve tried to do on many an occasion is to bring a new toy to them upon my return if it happened to be a longer time away from home. Or just a small biscuit treat after they hug me upon my return. It concentrates on the fact they were good while I was gone. So much so that as I arrived home recently, one of my white boxers, Casey, brought a toy to me to show, “See I’ve been good and playing!”