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Keeping Your Dog Active While You're Away


There are several ways you can help to ensure that your dog is feeling happy and staying active while you and your family are away during the day.

Do Some Fun Activities with Your Dog Before You Leave the House

Take a walk. Try making some time in your routine for a walk together before you leave for work or the kids go to school. That way both dog and humans will be getting exercise and you'll be spending some quality time together.

Play together. If there isn't enough time to go on a walk in the morning, try having a play session before you leave the house. You can give your dog some exercise and tire her out so she'll spend at least part of the rest of the day relaxing until you return.

Enhance Your Dog's Home Environment

Introduce a new toy. A new toy can add some excitement during the day while your dog is home alone. A tough chew toy that can't be torn apart while you're gone is best, just in case your dog likes to gobble things up. Also rotate toys: After a day or two, put one toy away so it's out of sight and mind, and bring out another to replace it. This will keep all of your dog's toys fresh and exciting.

Fill up a treat-dispensing toy. Coaxing a toy (such as the Buster Food Cube and the Atomic Treat Ball Dog Toy) to dispense treats may be a fun "alone time" activity for your dog. The treat toy will help entice your dog to stay active and the rewards will enforce good behavior during your absence. Even the laziest dog may not be able to resist a toy that gives out yummy treats when you play with it.

Add a fountain. Making sure your dog has enough water for the day while no one is home is very important, and a dog fountain can provide a constant supply of clean fresh water while also piquing your dog's interest. Many dogs love water and the running water of a fountain can create a diversion for your dog. Be sure to have the regular bowl of water out just in case your dog does not take to the fountain while you're away.

Use sound and video media. Pleasant sounds and video images in the home help your dog from feeling like he or she is alone when no one else is around. On some days, you can play a soothing classical CD. On other days, you can leave the TV on and put in a "for dogs only" video that will let your dog enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors without having to leave the doggy bed. You can even sign up for DogTV, a special station with programming for dogs that is based on specific canine research. The pictures and sounds are perfectly matched to dogs, and the content varies from soothing to mentally-stimulating.

Create a comfortable napping place. It's inevitable that your dog will want to snooze part of the day away while you're gone, so set up a comfortable place for your dog to relax. A soft bed in a darkened room is always calming. If your dog has been crate-trained, you can leave the crate door open and put a bed inside the crate, making it the perfect doggy den for napping.

Use a dog pheromone. If you sense that being alone causes anxiety in your dog, try using a dog-appeasing pheromone diffuser, spray or collar. The pheromone released by these products is similar to one that a lactating mother would emit to calm her newborn puppies. This pheromone will be familiar to your dog and create a sense of relaxation. You can place the diffuser in a room that is usually occupied by your dog, apply the spray to a dog bed, or have your dog wear the collar.

Install a dog door. If you have an enclosed yard in which your dog is safe to roam around while you're gone, consider installing a doggie door. The door will allow your dog to leave and re-enter the house at will, and to enjoy the sensory delights that your neighborhood has to offer.

Hire dog caretakers. This is a good option for dogs who are going through training or who suffer from separation anxiety. You can take your dog to a day care facility where your companion will be under constant supervision, or you can have a dog sitter or dog walker come to your home and make sure that your dog is getting the attention and exercise he or she needs while you're out. Your dog may greatly appreciate the mid-day exercise and visit.

Consider a second dog. Deciding whether to get another dog—and integrating a new dog into the household—are major undertakings that are beyond the scope of this article. But if Resident Dog and New Dog get along, each may benefit greatly from having company during parts of the day that would otherwise be spent alone.

Additional Benefits of a Happy Dog During "Home Without the Humans" Times

If Mr. or Ms. Dog is content and occupied rather than anxious and/or bored while at home alone, he or she is less likely to eat shoes, dig in the garbage, and get into other trouble, and will probably be better adjusted overall.

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