As much as we’d like to be with our dogs all the time, sometimes work and other things get in the way and they are better left at home!
If you’re like me, it’s easy to worry about them and feel guilty! Some people hate to leave their dogs alone at all, and opt to take them to “doggy daycare” facilities. In some respects, this is a great options, but it’s also good to manage this carefully as you can end up with a dog that can never be left alone – ever!
There are some things that you can do to make sure you’re dog doesn’t get stressed. While my dogs are young (generally 2 years and under) I leave them crated whenever I am not home. And I leave them with some projects to keep them busy, though I REALLY think they just sleep when I’m not home. In fact, there’s all sorts of research that dogs need their sleep! They spend 50% of their time sleeping, 30% lying around and only 20% active – obviously this varies by breed and environment – but they will take advantage of a quiet house to sleep! I know my two often take themselves off to their comfy dog beds (not the sofa) – and then amazingly when there’s action they can be up and awake in a flash!
Crate training is a good thing! Your dog will be less stressed or worried if they have been crate trained and you confine them for random and variable times while you are at home. Then confinement doesn’t become a signal of being left alone.
Some ideas for “projects”
Different surfaces to chew, like hard Nylabones or soft Gumabones. I try to leave several different choices. I DO NOT leave rawhide or rope bones in the crate unsupervised – or anything else that can be chewed up too quickly or torn apart.
My favourite thing to leave for lonely dogs are toys stuffed with goodies, like Kong or Tuffy toys
(Made by the Kong Company – choose an appropriate size) or a sturdy sterilized bone (which is the ONLY real bone I recommend). You stuff these items with something irresistible. Try peanut butter, “squeezy cheese” (DO NOT use hunks of cheese, the dog may choke on them), dog food, soft moist treats, peanut butter or bread.
The most important considerations are:
1. The dog MORE than loves the treat you chose
2. It is a treat the dog does not get at any other time
3. Test a small portion first to make sure the treat does not cause diarrhoea or vomiting.
Remember, this food is part of your dog’s daily intake, so feed less at mealtime. If you like, you can feed the whole meal from the cube.