5 Steps for Leaving Your Dog at Home While at Work
If it were up to your dog, the two of you would spend most of the day together. Dogs are born with an instinctive need for companionship, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when your furry friend runs to greet you at the door after you’ve had a long day on the job.
Leaving a dog at home while at work is a necessary part of life for most pet parents, but luckily it can be enjoyable for your Cadet! Follow these guidelines to help keep your dog’s alone time safe and comfortable during work hours.
#1: Set up the Perfect Hangout Spot
Keeping your dog in a place where they’ll be secure is a no-brainer. If your pup is crate trained, put their favorite blanket or a shirt with your scent near the crate to help them feel safe. Dogs should not be kept in a crate the whole day, though, so make sure you or someone else is available to let them out for several minutes throughout the day. This is also a good opportunity for a potty break! If your dog does not use a crate, gate them into a dog-proofed area.
Generally, it’s a good idea to keep your dog away from windows—especially if you live on a busy street. Observing passersby may cause your dog to bark anxiously and make their at-home environment more stressful. Instead, turn on the TV or radio when leaving your dog home alone to provide a distracting noise.
#2 Start a Routine TogetherIsn’t it peaceful to follow a regular schedule? Just like people, dogs thrive when they know what to expect. Waking up, eating meals, and playing at the same times each day will provide your furry friend a sense of structure.
A simple way to establish a routine is to take your dog out to potty before you leave home each morning. In addition to helping your dog get into a daily groove, this will also give them a chance to empty their bladder and reduce the risk of an accident later in the day. Continue your routine with another potty break when you get home.
Keeping your dog’s days consistent can go a long way toward helping them live contently. Avoid sudden routine changes and try to make any schedule adjustments gradual to ensure your dog will have an easier time acclimating.
#3: Break an Early Sweat
Dogs make great workout buddies! Whether you have a lively Labrador Retriever who’s always up for fetch or a laidback Shih Tzu who just needs to get a few steps in each day, set aside time before work to burn some calories together. Even a quick morning walk will provide your dog much-needed exercise and help tire them out for a nice, peaceful nap.
If your furry friend is highly active, you might want to enjoy a second round of playtime together when you come home. Starting a dog-friendly game or walking your dog at night are great options!
#4: Give Your Dog Some CompanyDogs need social interaction throughout the day. Trainers and veterinarians generally agree that four hours is a comfortable amount of time for an adult dog to be left alone, according to Psychology Today, which can be problematic if you work full eight-hour shifts. If your job is within a few minutes of home, drop by during your break to greet your dog and give them a bit of attention. Otherwise, you can recruit a neighbor, friend, or professional dog sitter to spend some quality time with your pup.
Dog daycare is an excellent way to let your furry friend go about their day under a watchful eye. Similar to child daycare, this service provides a place for pups to stay so you will not have to worry about leaving your dog home alone. Many programs offer service ranging from play sessions with other pets to dog obedience training lessons.
#5: Know the Signs of Loneliness
Excessive alone time can be a stressor for dogs. The good news is that there are easy-to-spot signs of discomfort, including:
- Destructive chewing
- Excessive barking
- Loss of appetite
Some of these signals can also be symptoms of separation anxiety, illness, or other problems, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian if you notice any of these behaviors.
A stressed dog may require some changes to their daily routine. Give your pup plenty of exercise and consider changing any surroundings that could cause stress. If the noise from your home’s heater or air conditioner scares your dog, for example, move your dog to a room where the sound is less audible.
Keeping Your Dog Happy Around the ClockWhile your furry friend will certainly miss you while you’re gone, a nice chunk of alone time can be a good thing. Adult dogs need about 12 to 14 hours of daily sleep on average and puppies need even more rest, so your Cadet will probably appreciate the chance to enjoy a quiet snooze while you’re attending meetings or working on a new project.
Leaving your dog at home while at work should be a guilt-free experience. As long as you stick to a proper routine and show your dog lots of affection when you come home, you will both be on your way to enjoying alone time any time of the week!