Unless you’re independently wealthy and don’t have to work, or have a dog-friendly office, most of us have to leave our dogs at home. Depending on how close you live to work and what kind of work you do, your dog may be home alone anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. That’s a long stretch of lonely time for our canine companions.
Here are some ways to set your dog up for success while you are gone all day.
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1. Get a dog walker.
All day and into the evening is too long for a dog to hold it, and too long to go without some kind of social interaction. If you live close enough, come home to walk your dog mid-day and give her a chance for some exercise and fresh air. If this isn’t possible, hire a dog walker.
2. Get another dog or cat to keep your dog company.
If your dog gets along with other dogs or with cats, consider adding to your four-legged family. Another animal with keep your dog company and entertained while you’re away.
3. If your dog has separation anxiety, get her treatment.
Separation anxiety is a condition that causes an extreme reaction to being left alone. If your dog howls, drools, shakes, and becomes incontinent, speak to your veterinarian. Your dog will need treatment to learn to tolerate being alone, but initially, consider doggie daycare or a pet sitter.
4. Take your dog for a relaxed stroll before leaving.
While this is easier said than done, if you can find the time to give your dog a good walk before going to work, your dog will be ready to relax while you’re out for the day.
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5. Get a doggie cam.
There are great products on the market now that allow you to see and interact with your dog while you’re away. Some of them even allow you to toss your dog a treat, talk to her, and there’s even an option with some that allow her to call you!
6. Consider interactive toys.
These toys mentally stimulate your dog while you’re away. There are different types, including puzzle toys, treat balls, safe chew bones like the Nylabone and treat-stuffed Kongs. But make sure they are safe for your dog to use while left alone. (Otherwise, save them for when you can supervise.)
7. Leave the TV or radio on.
Put on your dog’s favorite TV station with the sound low. Or better yet, get a subscription to DOGTV, which provides “dog-friendly programing scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone.” There is also music just for dogs, too.
8. Give your dog a den.
Create a cozy place for your dog to chill during the day. Consider orthopedic beds, a comfy crate, or go crazy and get her a ZenCrate.
9. Install a comfy window seat.
Dogs like to watch the world go by. A window seat with a soft cushion will keep him occupied for hours. Use a storage bench, build one, or have someone customize a window seat just for your dog.
10. Bring your dog to work.
In a perfect world, that’s what we’d all do. If you have a dog-friendly office, you’re lucky. If you don’t, consider suggesting it to your boss.
Related: New Study Reveals It May Actually Be Okay to Pet Your Dog Before You Leave