Soon, the long summer holidays will be ending and those lively, noisy kids will back going back to school or university. Even though you might be relieved that things are going to get back to normal, your dog might have some trouble adjusting –especially if you have to leave him home alone for long periods. The following are some ideas on how you can help him cope.
Do some preparations to ensure that your dog never suffers from separation anxiety. Before the conclusion of the summer holidays, ensure that he starts getting used to being left alone for short periods. Do not make a fuss. Simply walk out of the room for some minutes, shut the door, and then walk back in as if nothing has just happened. If you continuously give your dog many cuddles and attention before leaving and after getting back, you could be subconsciously telling him that he has reasons to worry. Extend the time that you leave him gradually but do not leave him alone for too long.
Safe & Sound
Ensure that the room that you plan to leave your dog is an environment that is safe for him. Look at this from the perspective of the dog and clear away any loose items such as cables that he might chew on, and secure any cupboards he might get opened especially the ones that contain food.
Ensure that your dog has all the comfort he needs when you are out by giving him fresh water and a soft bed. He might also enjoy having access to an open crate. If you can pop a blanket over the top then it can become a nice, cozy, den.
One of the most effective ways of helping your dog to settle is giving him lots of exercise. As much as you can, vary your walks and whenever possible, include off-lead fun. In case your dog loves interaction with other dogs, try to arrange for a meet up with friends so that all the dogs can play together on the walk.
Once you get home, include several minutes of interactive play into your schedule such as loading a sock with tasty treats and dragging it around for him to chase or throwing a ball for him to retrieve.
You will be surprised at the amount of mental energy your dog uses once you encourage him to use his brain. If you can do 10 minutes of trick training every morning or laying a scent for him to follow in the garden then you will get him tired faster than by running on a walk. To get started on this you can consult a training club.
Working For It
Once your dog has completed hi morning exercise, keep him busy by encouraging him to fetch the newspaper, pick up his food bowl, bring his lead to be hung up, or simply to tidy away his toys in a toy box. Even though you might not be a morning person, try to include the dog in your morning routine since it helps him settle once you leave.
Whenever your dog is home alone you can provide some entertainment for him using food toys. Hide food treats all over the room for him but do not use rawhide chews or anything that can stick or splinter in his throat. An excellent source of fun for dogs is a Kong stuffed with delicious treats.
Give your dog plenty of safe toys. Avoid boredom by rotating the toys every couple of days to ensure that he always has something new to amuse him. Watch out for toys coming into the market and examine them carefully after play to ensure that they have not cracked, split, or become unsafe.
In case your garden is fully secure and inaccessible to strangers ten you can consider installing a dog door so that he can come and go at will. However, be careful of dog thieves and if the threat of theft is quite real then avoid taking any chances.
Many dogs like to sit at windows watching the world go by. However, others find this to be stressful and tend to bark each time a stranger walks by. Prolonged barking is not something the neighbors might be too pleased with. If your dog is the calm type then you can provide him with a room with a view. However, if he is the anxious type then restrict him to a room with no extra visual distractions.
Colorado State University conducted a research study that showed that many dogs do respond positively to background music. When you are out of the house, you can try to leave a radio on since it can help keep your dog calm, but be careful on the music you choose. The study showed that heavy rock music increases nervousness in dogs while classical music aids in their relaxation. Apparently, one of their most favorite tunes was ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by Beethoven.