If your dog is on his own all day, then he is not alone. According to recent research, one in four owners forsakes their dog during the day whilst the family go to work, or school.
Like most dog parents, you will probably become extremely emotional when leaving your best friend on their own. Will he fret, pine, or become anxious? Might he harm himself, soil on the carpet, or damage furniture?
However, there are things you can do that will make leaving your dog alone less stressful. Here are 10 common mistakes that numerous owners do that when corrected, can make leaving Fido for the day a whole lot easier.
Mistake #1: Adopting the Wrong Breed
Adopting a puppy or an energetic breed like a working or herding dog will be extremely demanding on your time. When you work all day, you will not be able to properly train and exercise these types of dog, so do not buy them.
Instead, consider adopting an older and larger breed of dog. They are already trained, can wait longer between walks, and have less energy. Give an older dog a warm radiator to snooze against and he will gladly wait for you all day.
Mistake #2: Leaving Hazards in Your Home
The average home is full of things that on a cursory glance may look harmless, but are a potential hazard to your dog. He could suffocate if he swallows that sock left on the floor, and chemicals like cleaning fluids could hurt him when drunk. Try to think like a dog. Pick up anything that could hurt him whilst you are not there.
Mistake #3: Letting Your Dog Roam
Your dog will feel more secure if you confine him to a single room like a kitchen or utility room rather than letting him roam the house. Restricting his movements will also keep him from spoiling your expensive furnishings, fixtures, and carpets.
Mistake #4: Your Dog has too Much Energy
Your dog needs to be relaxed and calm before you leave him. Make the time in the morning and take him for a long walk. He will then spend the next few hours sleeping, and whilst he sleeps he cannot come to any harm.
Mistake #5: Not Letting Your Dog Potty
Whilst it may be true that larger dogs can hold their bladder for longer than smaller ones, every dog has to pee and poop at some time. Make sure your dog gets the chance to potty before he is left on his own. He will also need to go for a walk at least once every six hours. Otherwise you may come home to a nasty little mess in the middle of your kitchen floor.
Mistake #6: Not Practicing
When you leave your dog alone for the first time, prepare him for the momentous day with a little practice. Leave him alone for a few minutes a week or two before, and then gradually build up the time. This will reassure him that when you leave for real, it does not mean you are not coming back.
Mistake #7: Making a Fuss
It is only natural for your dog to become anxious when you are preparing to leave the house. He is wondering what’s going on and probably knows it will not involve him. Do not justify his fears by making a tremendous fuss. Simply say goodbye, and walk out the house as if it is the most natural thing.
Mistake #8: Letting Your Dog Get Bored
A bored dog will naturally want to be mischief-full. When your dog is alone, leave him lots of treats and toys to keep him entertained. One of the best toys is a Kong filled with soft cheese. Most dogs will spend hours wrestling with the toy and licking out the contents.
Mistake #9: Leaving Your Dog Outside
Leaving your dog outside all day is a terrible idea. No matter how secure you think he will be, Fido will find a way to get out. In addition, you do not want him causing a disturbance by barking at everything and everyone from the postman to the neighbours’ cat that happens to pass by.
Mistake #10: Leaving Him Alone For too Long
Even with the best of care, regularly leaving your dog alone for more than six hours is too long. Ideally, you or another family member will be able to return home during the day to walk him. However, if that is not possible, get a friend or neighbour to do it for you. Alternatively, hire a dog walking service, or put your dog into a doggie day care centre.
Patricia James is the author of the Dog Training That Works series of books. You can learn more about dog training and how to look after your dog at her official website.