Many dogs have become used to having their owners around 24/7 during the lockdown.
Now that more people are going back to the office instead of working from home, their furry friends suddenly find themselves home alone.
That’s a real culture shock for many dogs. So, how do you make your dog feel comfortable and safe when he’s left all alone?
Read this guide for some top tips on how to make your dog feel comfortable when you’re not there.
A Comfortable Crate
Many dog owners choose to crate train their dogs from puppyhood. Dogs are naturally denning animals, and most enjoy having a comfortable crate where they can spend time alone when they feel the need to get away from a busy household.
That safe space can also be a dog’s refuge when he’s left home alone. In fact, dogs that suffer from separation anxiety are often happier and more relaxed when confined to a cozy crate.
Before you go out, take your dog for a walk or exercise him in your backyard so that he settles down to sleep when you leave.
Dog Crate Alternatives
Of course, not every dog appreciates being contained in a crate. Also, if you’re out for more than eight hours, your dog should not be left crated for that whole time.
A baby pen can make an excellent crate substitute. With the door propped open, you can set up the pen with your dog’s crate inside it.
Your dog can then enjoy the freedom to move around and play with his toys, safely contained in his pen, and retire to the comfort of the crate when he wants a nap.
Choose A Comfortable Place for Your Dog
It’s generally better to confine your dog to one place in your home while you’re out, where he can feel relaxed and comfortable.
The place should be quiet and away from loud noises that could startle your dog and frighten him. Dogs can easily overheat, so the space you choose must be warm but not too hot, ideally away from fires, radiators, and direct sunlight.
Conversely, your dog won’t be comfortable if he’s sitting in a chilly draft, so avoid doorways, open windows, and air conditioning units.
If your dog won’t tolerate being crated and you leave him loose, confine him to one room to minimize the risk of toilet accidents in random places in your home and damage resulting from destructive behaviors.
Enjoy The View
Some dogs are happiest if they can sit near a window and watch the world go by while waiting for their owner to arrive home.
Leave your shades up to allow your dog to see out of the window. Sometimes, being able to see people passing by outside reassures your dog that he’s not completely alone.
However, other pups can get thoroughly overexcited by the site of other dogs outside, so you’ll need to observe your dog and see how he reacts before you leave.
If your dog is used to having company during the day, he’s certain to feel isolated when you’re out. Sometimes, leaving a TV or radio playing while you’re not around is a good way of keeping your dog company.
Talk radio channels work well, as they don’t have loud music that could stress your dog. You might also want to try DogTV, a YouTube station that’s designed exclusively for pampered pooches’ entertainment!
Don’t abandon your dog with the radio and TV on. Most dogs seem to appreciate the virtual company of a remote human voice, but some can find the experience quite stressful.
So we recommend that you have a few trial runs while you’re at home so that you can check your pet’s reaction.
Leave A Light On
During the winter months, it’s dark in the early morning and late afternoon, which can be scary for a dog at home alone. If you’re likely to be out of the house when it’s dark, try using a timer to switch the lights on and off as appropriate.
How Long Can Your Dog Be Left Home Alone?
Aside from the fact that your dog will begin to suffer from feelings of isolation and abandonment if you’re out for too long, he will need sufficient potty breaks to keep him comfortable.
Ideally, you don’t want to leave your dog for more than six hours without having a chance to relieve himself. Potty-trained dogs can become very distressed if forced to soil their crates, and you also have the mess to clean up when you get home.
That said, all dogs are different. Large breeds typically need fewer potty breaks than puppies and toy breeds. Other factors come into play, such as the dog’s size, age, and some medical conditions that affect the animal’s bladder control.
Before You Go …
Make sure you have plenty of time to give your dog a potty break before you leave for work. Don’t be in a rush and hassle your dog!
Some pups like to take their time enjoying a good sniff around before doing the deed, so ensure your dog has plenty of time to relieve himself before you crate your dog and leave.
Ideally, you want to take your dog for a walk or spend some time playing with him so that he settles down to sleep when you go out.
Provide Your Dog with Toys
When a dog has left home alone, he has nothing to take his mind off the fact that his beloved owner has gone away.
So, what can you do to make your dog feel more comfortable when you’re not around?
Well, many dogs can be distracted by a fun, interactive toy, or food puzzle. A firm favorite with many owners and their dogs is the KONG toy.
Stuff the toy with peanut butter or treats and pop it in your freezer. The frozen toy can occupy a dog for hours, taking his mind off the fact that you’re not there.
A frozen food puzzle toy is also perfect for soothing the sore gums of a teething puppy or senior dog with dental problems.
Give Him a Break
If you don’t live too far from your workplace, you might be able to come home at lunchtime to give your dog a break.
Dogs love a routine, and it won’t take long before your pooch learns that you will be coming home to let him out and give him a few treats or a snack.
That said, some dogs become even more distressed when their owner appears for a short time and then goes away again. If your dog reacts in that way, we recommend that you hire a dog walker.
Alternatively, ask a friend to call round to take your pup out for a walk or give your pet a game and a chance for a potty break in your backyard.
In this post-pandemic world, many dog owners have to return to work, leaving their dogs at home alone.
You can make your dog feel more comfortable when you leave him alone at home by providing him with a cozy crate or alternative confinement area.
Give your pet some fun interactive toys to play with, pop home at lunchtime, or arrange for a dog walker to give your dog a potty break midway through the day.