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Home Alone, the Canine Version

Molly watching the world go by

Photo by Amy Houselog Turner

“I should set up a camera to see what my dogs do at home all day long.” I know I’m not alone in my thinking. We wave good-bye to our pups and shut the door behind us as we leave for the day. Will they be bored? Will they just sleep? Will they get into things they shouldn't?  For all we know, our dogs have thrown many a crazy puppy party in our absence. We want to know that our furry friends are unharmed and happy all day long. Luckily, Amy - my friend and the owner of True Dog Training - has several helpful tips to help ease our minds.

  1. Exercise your pup before you leave.  A tired dog is a happy dog. Take them on a run with you before work. Throw around the ball in your fenced-in yard. Get their blood pumping before you leave, so then they can crash and dream about how much fun their work-out with you was.
  2. Utilize food dispensing toys. Keep them busy! Stuff food dispensing toys with kibble, wet dog food, canned pumpkin/yogurt, apple sauce or bananas. Popular brands are Kong, Premier, and Busy Buddy.  You can create layers of dry kibble and mushy food and freeze the night before. Use your dog’s measured food and account for any extras by removing some kibble. Tug-A-Jug is another popular option.

home alone pic 1It is important to note that some dogs are resource guarders – they should not be allowed with other animals while eating. If you have multiple dogs, consider separating them with baby gates or crates if this is a concern.

  1. Leave out a basket of sturdy toys. A lot of dogs like to play and chew. Find some well-made tennis balls, antlers, or Nylabones. Never leave out toys that could be ingested or are a choking hazard.
  2. Play soft music or television.  Usually when you are home, dogs are used to the chatter of you and your family, or the television. Playing soothing music or keeping the tv on at a low volume could make them feel less alone when you are gone. Remember that dogs have very sensitive ears, so always test the volume and note their reaction.
  3. Leave the curtains or blinds open (…maybe). If the dog doesn't bark, growl, jump, or scratch the windows it should be fine for them to look out. If they stress in any way when you are home to sounds or sights, chances are they are doing it all day. This may make pups more edgy, grouchy and high-strung when you are home. Use baby gates, curtains or crates so they can't see those things (some dogs are truly more relaxed in a crate).

You know your dog(s) better than anyone. Be aware of their likes, dislikes, and what makes them uncomfortable. Make their time away from you a happy and safe one!


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