People welcome a dog into their home for companionship and love. Dogs look forward to the same benefits. But if you’re an employed adult with obligations and responsibilities, then you will regularly leave your pet alone – and that’s OK, if you prepare yourself and your dog properly with the best possible pet care.
When you’re at work all day, or frequently out of your home, your dog is left to fend for himself, often bored and lonely. Here are just six pet care tips to help you feel less guilt about leaving your dog home alone, and help your pet cope better with your absence:
1. Exercise Early
If you know you’ll be out all day long, start the day with some exercise for your pup. He will get the movement he needs (adjusted for type of dog, age, and state of health, of course). Bonus: The activity is good for you too. The goal is to give your dog some off-leash time and opportunities to roam around so that he will come home, flop down, and take a nice long nap for the rest of the morning.
2. Provide Diversions
It is natural to worry about your dog chowing down while unsupervised, but if you make the right food choices and deliver them in an entertaining way, your dog will love you for it. Avoid natural bones and rawhides – it’s a good idea to be in the vicinity when your dog has his teeth on one of these. Instead, opt for food-dispensing toys that your dog can work at and be rewarded by, or scatter dry food around the floor to give your dog the option to forage and have fun.
3. Hire Help
Sure, your dog can probably hold his urine and bowel movements all day – but this isn’t exactly a great habit to develop and it can lead to a urinary tract infection or cystitis. If you are truly concerned about your pet’s desire for attention and need to go to the bathroom, there are options. Doggy daycare is available, and this is a great option for the more social dogs. Loners need not apply – they probably won’t be happy there. Dog sitters and professional dog walkers are available, and don’t forget to lean on the friends and family who always offer to lend a hand. If they’re home during the day and you’re not, ask if they can walk your dog. Everyone will feel better.
4.Create a Controlled Space
Your dog doesn’t need to have full access to your entire home when you are aware. Crate training is a great way to keep your dog where he is supposed to be, and the small space can actually be a comfort to your dog when you condition it to be a positive space. If you prefer, invest in baby gates and block off one or two rooms of the house to keep your dog where you want him. Just be sure to pet-proof any area before you designate it as your dog’s digs during the day so that you know he is always safe, even when you’re not around.
5. Get a Friend
Dogs love to be social. But dogs separated from their humans for too often or too long can experience separation anxiety. If you have the space, energy, and money to care for a second pet, your dog will get along better during the day with company than completely alone. If a second dog is not in your plans or budget, identify a few “away” toys and diversions that your dog can look forward to playing with when you’re not home.
6. Choose the Right Dog Breed
If you have yet to acquire your dog and are still deciding between certain breeds, choose wisely. Consider not only the dog breed that you think is the cutest, but the one that gels best with your lifestyle. If you are not home very often, don’t get a dog that requires round-the-clock attention. If you have questions about the best dog breed for you and your family, speak with a vet at Northpointe Veterinary Hospital for advice. Our clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.