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Ten Top Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

It can be a worry leaving your dog at home alone, but with our top tips you can leave that worry behind.

Your pet may not understand and it’s common for owners to feel guilty and worried.  Are they OK? Have they escaped?  Have they torn the sofa to shreds?  Are they too hot?  Do they have enough food?
 
Try not to worry too much.  If dogs have had enough exercise and are left with food, water and fun things to do they can be perfectly fine.  It may take a while for dogs to get used to being on their own and it can help to do the same thing every time you leave, so they can work out what’s going on.
 
It’s best to try and make sure your pet isn’t left for more than four hours at a time.  Sometimes of course, this is impossible.  Here are 10 things you can do to make sure your dog is happy on their own, helping you get on with your day without worrying too much.
 
  1. Make sure your pet gets plenty of running about before you leave them on their own.  A proper walk for young or working breeds of dog should last between 30-60 minutes.  You may be rushed for time but a tired dog will settle down and sleep for the day until they’re ready for their next outing.  Older or arthritic dogs won’t need as long a walk, you will know how long it takes to tire your pet out.
  1. Make being on their own fun!  Dogs will love ripping through cardboard boxes, so save these up and leave a stack of them next to their bed.  Hide treats in between them to encourage pets to keep searching for more tasty surprises. This is the perfect activity for dogs that like to chew things and hopefully will stop them trashing your new sofa!
  1. Stuff a Kong toy with dry and wet food and seal it with peanut butter or Kong stuffing. This should keep your dog entertained for a while.  You can also try freezing this to make it last even longer.
  1. If you are leaving first thing in the morning then make breakfast interesting for your dog by throwing kibble on the floor just before you go out of the door, or put their food inside a puzzle toy.
  1. If your dog is happy playing by themselves, make a special basket of fun toys that you only give them when you go out.  Change the toys regularly so they don’t get bored.
  1. If you have to leave your pet for a very long time then it’s worth trying to find a dog walker to let them out in the middle of the day.  This is also a good idea if your dog needs a lot of exercise or is quite anxious about being left.  There are lots of people who will do this but always arrange to go for a walk together first so you can check your dog is happy before their new friend takes them out alone.
  2. If your pet is showing signs of being really stressed when you leave then you can try putting an Adaptil diffuser in the room with them.  This contains a pheromone scientifically proven to help your dog stay calm. 
  1. Leave the radio on.  Music is a great way of keeping your dog relaxed.  Research has shown that classical music is very calming and can help your pet chill while you’re not there.
  1. When you do come back, your dog will no doubt be delighted to see you, but try not to give them too much attention while they’re bouncing around.  Wait until they’re sitting nicely before fussing them.  This will help them understand that quiet behaviour gets rewards and encourage them to stay calm when you’re not there.
  1. It’s important that when you are at home you spend lots of time with your dog.  They will always enjoy  going for walks but you can also play games with them, practise obedience, teach them new tricks or just snuggle up together.  Quality time will strengthen the bond between you and make sure you have a happy confident pet.  
By taking the time to get things ready for your pet and sticking to the same routine they will soon get used to being home alone, leaving you free to go out without worrying.
 
If your pet has serious separation anxiety or isn’t used to being left at all then it may be really difficult to get them to settle on their own for a long time.  It might be a good idea to ask for help from a professional dog behaviourist if you are having problems. Go to www.apbc.org.uk to find one in your area.