The summer holidays are well and truly over for most of us. School is back in session and our daily lives are returning to normal once again.

For our dogs, this means they are back to spending time on their own and this can be a difficult adjustment if they have had you around over summer.

For puppies, this is even more challenging since they need to learn to cope on their own.

Dogs are very social creatures and generally speaking prefer having company to being on their own. Unfortunately, as much as I’m sure most of us would love to spend our time hanging out with our dogs, that is not real life. We need to earn a living right?!

So what can we do to help our dogs to cope with being on their own? How do we stop boredom related destructive behaviour? Can we so anything to make our dogs time home alone better for them?

Yes. Yes, we can.

By employing these simple home alone strategies for dogs, you can help your dog cope better while they are home alone.

Walk first

Before you leave the house for the day, take your dog out for a walk. If you don’t have time for their full walk, even a 10 min stroll around the block can help drain a bit of energy.

Our aim is to tire the dog out before you leave or at least take the edge off. Exercise can help drain your dogs’ physical energy and if you include sniff time, obedience and structure to your walk, the added mental stimulation will have an even greater benefit.

Use food!

A bowl of your dog’s food is a bowl of wasted opportunity!!!
Instead of feeding your dog while you are still at home, split their food up and use some in food toys and games.

By using food toys and games as a home alone strategy, provides your dog with both physical and mental stimulation to help drain their energy. Plus, it gives them something to do!

I suggest using at least HALF of your dog’s daily food allowance in food games and toys for when you are away from the home.

Here are some examples:

  • Biscuit scramble
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Biscuit dispensing toys
  • DIY toys
  • Icey treats etc.

Environmental enrichment

How interesting is your backyard to your dog? Do they have things to do to keep them occupied and entertained? A key component to a home alone strategy for dogs is to stop or reduce their level of boredom.

Many dogs who dig up the yard, chew furniture or bark constantly throughout the day are usually bored or frustrated or haven’t learned how to cope by themselves for that period of time.

Let’s make the backyard or area they are spending their time, fun and interesting for your dog.

Here are some suggestions of activities you could provide for your dog to keep them occupied while you are away:

  • Sandpit
  • Paddling pool
  • Hanging tug toys
  • Scenting activities
  • Chew toys etc.

Visitors

If your dog will be alone for a period of time longer than they can currently manage, consider having someone visit your dog to break up their day.

This is a really great option if you have a young puppy who is learning how to cope on its own. Over time, they will learn greater independence but it is not unreasonable for them to need time to develop this skill.

Having someone come to visit the dog or puppy can provide them with additional physical and mental stimulation. The visits could also be timed in such a way that the dog is slowly spending more and more time alone before the visitor arrives. This way you can slowly increase their time alone without causing undue stress.

There are some examples of people you could consider to visit your dog:

  • Friend or family member
  • Dog walker
  • Pet minder
  • Can you stop home for lunch??

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