Dogs are very social animals, and they would like nothing more than to be by your side 24/7. Today many dog owners work full time and unfortunately, a large number of employers do not allow dogs on their premises because some people have allergies or are afraid of dogs. Consequently, many dog owners see no other alternative than leaving their dog at home alone for most of the day. We might imagine our dogs gleefully doing the Tom Cruise "Risky Business" slide when we shut the door behind us in the morning, but the more likely scenario is the dog experiencing some level of separation anxiety.
Fear and anxiety are closely related, so to reduce the risk of harm to your dog it’s worth considering these steps:
1.Walk your dog before leaving home
If you want a calm dog, before you leave the house, make sure you schedule time for a brisk walk or a vigorous game of fetch in the back garden or nearby dog-friendly park. Having an anxious dog home alone is bad enough. Having a dog that is anxious and hyper is a recipe for disaster. Exercise helps calm your dog down in two ways. Physically, it tires your dog out, so he might be up for a nap while you’re away; and emotionally, exercise can level out your dog’s brain chemistry in the same way a good workout can leave humans exhilarated.
2. Ask a friend to pop in
The best-case scenario would be you coming home for lunch and spending a little quality time to break up your dog’s day. But if your schedule or commute doesn’t always allow that, then asking a friend or neighbour to pop in may be a solution. If you have someone close by with pets, this is a great time to encourage some neighbourly reciprocity, where you can arrange to let each other’s pets out when the other one isn’t home.
3. More dog toys, less destruction
A bored dog left to his own devices may act out by chewing up furniture, clothing etc. Boredom can be as much of a cause for acting badly as separation anxiety. For this reason, it’s important to leave out your dog’s favourite toys and anything else you can think of that he can use to entertain himself in your absence. Dog toys make great diversions. Aside from keeping him away from your possessions, you’ll provide a distraction for your dog during the day, so he won’t be as anxious about you being gone.
To keep your dog happy, healthy and to provide him with the socialisation skills he needs then it is also worth considering dropping him into a professional licensed dog day care centre a few days a week. Specially qualified professionals will ensure your dog has plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and gets the socialisation he needs, helping you relax and giving you peace of mind your dog is being well looked after.