10 Tips to Keep Your Dog From Becoming Sad When Left Alone
Should I Be Worried About My Dog Being Home Alone?
Some of us worry a lot when leaving our dogs alone all day. We probably shouldn't because even though dogs are social animals, they sleep most of the day (anywhere from 10–16 hours) and will usually be fine when left alone for several hours. That fact is not much help when closing the door on your dog's lonely face. I even give my dogs a final command before leaving them alone. Do you think that makes it any easier for them? Probably not.
Are there things you can do to make your dog's day alone a little easier? Sure there are. You may have tried a few of these things before, but if not, here are some ideas to make things a little better for both of you.
10 Ways to Make Your Dog Feel Less Lonely When You Aren't Home
- Feed Her Just as You Leave
- Take Her for a Brisk Walk Each Morning
- Hide Treats Around the House Before Leaving
- Fill a Kong Toy With Frozen Peanut Butter to Keep Her Occupied
- Get Another Pet
- Leave a Radio Turned On
- Subscribe to Dog TV
- Call and Leave a Message
- Use a Webcam and Treat Dispenser
- Install a Doggy Door or Window Platform
1. Feed her when you leave the house (or just before).
I think this is very important. Dogs with a full belly are much more likely to sleep. Some dogs will eat everything as soon as you leave the house, others, especially if fed free choice, will not bother with their food until their family comes home. If your dog only eats when you are present, go ahead and give the meal and then wait around until she eats it before leaving.
Note: If you have one of the breeds that are susceptible to gastric bloat and torsion, feeding a meal as leaving the house is not a good idea.
2. Take her for a long walk in the morning.
A quiet dog is going to have a full stomach and be tired after her morning exercise. This is not always easy for everyone, but set your alarm a half-hour earlier and take the time to walk your dog far enough and fast enough to come home tired.
3. Hide treats around the house.
Some dogs will spend time searching for all of your hiding spots. Change the hiding spots every day, and use a treat that your dog likes. Some dogs, unfortunately, will wait to find the treats when you come home.
4. Fill a Kong hollow toy with hard-to-get goodies.
Your dog is going to spend a lot of time and effort getting to the food that you have “hidden” in the toy, and time spent playing with the toy will keep her distracted and prevent her from feeling sad and alone. (I bought several years ago and my dogs still use them when I am away from home.) Frozen peanut butter or another type of food that is hard to get out works best. Kong toys
5. Get another pet.
This suggestion will not always work when your are dealing with a dog already suffering from separation anxiety, but for dogs that get bored when home alone, this may be a good cure. A dog companion may be best since they can wrestle and play when alone, but if you do not want another dog, then a cat, a parrot, or even a rabbit may be a good choice.
My Pit Bull stays occupied sitting at the bottom of my parrot's perch waiting for him to throw her a piece of shredded coconut, and my Schnauzer spends a lot of time just watching my free-range rabbits run around my yard.
6. Leave a radio turned on.
If your dog is bored, sometimes a distraction is all he needs. I cannot tell you for sure if talk radio is better than music, since it will depend on the dog. Change the stations; it may all be white noise to your dog.
7. Subscribe to dog TV.
Many dogs do not like to watch the TV shows that we watch because the images flicker. A new TV station is set up to make it more pleasing to a dog's eyes, and the programming is dog-related so that your dog will be more interested. Think about setting a timer/programmer so that the TV flips on during the day. The noise and images will probably attract your dog and keep him occupied during the program.
8. Call and leave a message.
If you call and leave a message on your answering machine, your dog will probably recognize your voice and come over to take a look.
9. Use a webcam and a treat dispenser.
Get a treat dispenser that can be controlled electronically, and set the answering machine up just next to a webcam so that you can see your dog. Give him a command, and when he sits, for example, tell him he is a good boy and give him a treat. (I am assuming that you have already obedience trained your dog so that he feels confident when left alone. If you have not, get started right away and make him feel better about his place in your household.)
10. Install a doggy door or window platform.
Some dogs will make use of it and spend some time in the back yard. However, some readers are concerned about dognapping in their area. If you are not able to allow your dog out during the day, you can set up a platform (or just the back of a couch for a smaller dog) so that he can sit by a front window during the day and watch passersby.
Is Your Dog Sad When Left Alone?
How to Use Technology to Create a Good Routine for Your Dog
Take advantage of all the technology available.
- Walk and feed your dog in the morning.
- At 10:00 am, he will probably still be sleeping but have the TV (set to dog TV) come on remotely and leave it on until 12:00 pm.
- Call at noon and leave a message on the machine so that he can hear your voice and give him a treat for performing some obedience commands that you monitor through the webcam.
- Have the radio come on until 1:00 pm.
- Have the TV switch on again for another two hours.
- Switch on the radio from 3–4 pm.
- Take a break and call again at that time; speak to him for a few minutes on the answering machine.
- Come home in the evening to a dog that is happy to see you!
Will your dog get bored with that routine?
All of us want our dogs to be free from boredom, feelings of isolation, and the loneliness that comes with lack of a social life. Not all of these tips are going to work for all dogs, but if give this problem a lot of thought you should be able to work out a solution that makes both of you happy.
If you work all day but still want a dog, check out descriptions, videos, and pictures of these low-energy breeds to find out which will suit your lifestyle.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Will it be alright if I leave my two Yorkies at a shelter for two weeks while I am on holiday?
Some dogs do just fine when boarded during the times when an owner is traveling. If there are two dogs, and they are going to be in a large kennel so that they will be together, they are usually even better. If they are kept in a cage, they will have to be separated.
Some dogs do not do well in a boarding facility. This varies a lot, so I cannot tell you specifically how the dogs will do.Helpful 3
© 2017 Dr Mark