Dogs are incredibly social animals that have unconditional love for their families and would love nothing more to be at the hip of family members all day. So when back-to-school rolls around each year and the entire family leaves the house every day, our dogs can get some serious separation anxiety. In the best-case scenario, this might manifest in boredom or loneliness. And in a worst-case scenario: destruction or messy surprises. Here’s how we pet parents can help pooch better pass the time during the day:
Exercise Your Dog Early
A happy dog is one that comes home from a walk exhausted and ready for a nap. Your pooch’s optimal level of exercise to reach this state will vary and you should consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s tolerance to exercise, but some hard exercise in the morning will get the blood pumping and their brain stimulated. Just be aware that dogs are also sensitive to heat or cold, so you might need to exercise them in the early morning if it’s too hot right before you leave.
Create Planned DiversionsTo prevent doggie destruction, diversions are a must. We love dog toys that provide serious mental stimulation and take a while to figure out. Puzzle toys like the Tug-A-Jug dispense food and/or treats randomly, so it’ll take your dog a while to empty it. You can even fill the Tug-A-Jug with a meal’s worth of dry food, which will only be accessible when your pooch plays with it (just be sure to put his food bowl away to limit how much he’s eating). We also love the popular KONG because they make toys with different levels of difficulty and offer creative recipes for filling it. We recommend putting out a number of favorite toys—not all have to have treats in them—to give pooch enough diversions to last throughout the day.
Don’t Hold It In
Coming home at lunch to let your dog out might not be feasible for you, but even though dogs can hold in their business all day, they shouldn’t. There are great alternatives for pet parents that include daycare, dog walkers or a neighbor’s help, but if you can’t spring for any of those, there’s still a way to prevent messes and give pooch a place to go. Try training pads in an area of your house that can be easily cleaned. We like pads that can hold a significant amount of liquid and absorb odors, like Simple Solution’s X-Large Training Pads. And if you find that your pup still isn’t using the pad, you can use training spray that will encourage him to urinate there. These are three strategies we love for relieving pooch’s separation anxiety. What strategies do you have? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!