Dogs are highly social animals who enjoy companionship, so it’s important that we help them to feel safe, confident, and entertained when spending time by themselves. To help, PETstock’s State Trainer, Mandi Wright has compiled some safety and other helpful tips for dogs left home alone.
When dogs are left to their own devices, they may experience boredom, anxiety or stress, which can ultimately lead to destructive behaviours, such as digging, chewing at the furniture and other objects, scratching at the door or even trying to escape.
Fortunately, there’s a wave of new tech products that can assist with keeping your dog entertained while being left home alone including DOGTV, which is a scientifically designed streaming platform for dogs, is a great tool to support the loneliness and isolation our pets’ can experience.
DOGTV programs are divided into three categories – exposure, stimulation and relaxation – each designed to match a dog’s typical daily cycle, and depending on your dog’s needs, each category will support enrichment within their environment by exposing them to new stimuli through different visuals and sounds. For a particularly anxious dog, try leaving on DOGTV’s relaxation segment during the day. The program’s calming visuals and soothing sounds will keep your dog relaxed when they’re having alone time.
A great way to check in on how your dog is faring while you are out, consider monitoring their movements via a two-way camera. Some have treat dispensing mechanisms so you can reward good behaviour through an automatic release of treats. Those that allow you to talk to them are not recommended as this could cause confusion and make any stress or anxiety worse.
Create a special dog zone
To decrease your buddy’s potential for getting into trouble at home or to help them feel at ease during the day, another of the tips for dogs left home alone is to create a safe and comfortable area for your dog. Even if you’re working from home with your pet for most of the day, when our dogs are left alone in a room or the backyard for extended periods of time with minimal attention, they can become bored and lonely, and may get destructive or attempt to escape as a result.
In order to make your dog feel secure, create a designated space for their bed, a few toys, treats, and comfort items. Giving your pet interactive toys to play with, such as licking mats or a dog treat puzzle, can provide stimulation and reduce behavioural issues such as barking, digging and chewing.
Removing potential hazards
As we can’t always monitor our dogs 24 hours a day, it’s important to remove potential hazards within the home and backyard so your dog remains safe, and your possessions remain intact. It’s a good idea to remove any dangers that can affect their health or trigger destructive behaviours, which means concealing electrical wires and cords, removing any toxic plants such as jasminen and lilies, ensuring the garbage bins are covered and small chewable items are out of sight.
In the backyard, make sure all fences are stable and concealed to prevent the success of any potential escape artists. While easily forgotten, some gardening supplies can be highly poisonous, so you’ll need to keep lawn fertilisers, cleaning supplies and insecticides well away from your dog’s reach.
If your dog has become used to having you around or does suffer from mild separation anxiety, then start independence training as soon as possible. Tips on how to do this can be found in this article.
Talk to your vet
If you suspect your dog’s anxiety is a little more than just mild, it is important that you do speak to your Vet or a Vet Behaviourist about the role of medication and how it can help. Separation anxiety can cause significant trauma and stress for many dogs and can cause a wide range of behaviour problems. You can read more about separation anxiety HERE.