Dogs Home Alone

A dog left alone more than 6 hours for more than four days a week, can start to show undesirable behaviour.  Here are a few ideas to help your pet get the socialization and exercise he needs.

A great idea that some people have used is neighbourhood dog exchanges.  If there is another family nearby and your dogs are compatible, take turns having both dogs in the same house during workdays. This way, the dogs get both a companion and a change of setting on alternating days. 

Another trend is the use of dog walker.  Not only does this scheduled outing seriously reduce the behaviour problems stemming from under-stimulation, if gives the dog a mid-day potty break.  While there is no question that a lot of dogs can hang onto bladder and bowels for long hours, it’s far from kind to make them. Before hiring a dog walker, check references and credentials, ask how she manages the dogs, how she deals with behaviour problems, and what first-aid training she has.  A criminal record check is also important if you are giving the person access to your property.

Doggie daycare has also become popular. A good daycare can add immense social stimulation and play opportunities for your dog.  Even a few days a week can take the bite out of leaving a pet alone while the rest of the family is at work or school.

If none of these ideas suit you, there are other things you can do to reduce the home-alone blues. Namely, increase the interaction you have with your dog when you are at home.  Start using work-to-eat games to make mealtime more fun. This is not inhumane – in fact, zoos spend a lot of time developing enrichment strategies like this for their inmates.   Regular exercise is critical for the dog’s mental health. Depending on your dog, choose daily 20 minutes of fetch or Frisbee, time at the dog park, or brisk walking. If you opt for walks, make sure the dog gets to stop and sniff to provide mental stimulation.