PUT SAFETY FIRST
Your home should be dog proofed so that your pet is safe at all times, not just when he’s home alone. This means ensuring the dog can’t get to cords, dangerous items that can be chewed, or chemicals under the sink.
Make sure that your pup also has access to clean drinking water when you are away, otherwise he may get dehydrated. Provide fresh water every day, and make sure your dog has water available in his crate if you choose to utilize one.
Crating or confining your dog is best unless and until you have a high level of assurance that they won’t eat a ‘foreign body’ causing themselves harm, or that they won’t create a safety issue in your home or they won’t escape and get hurt.
If you don’t have a proper crate for your dog (one that’s large enough for the dog to be able to lie flat on his side with his legs extended), then sturdy gates that can’t be jumped over or knocked down can be installed or you can place your dog in a closed, safe room, like spare bedroom, mud room or the kitchen.
PROVIDE CANINE ENRICHMENT
To prevent destructive behavior, provide your dog with entertainment that keeps his mind focused on acceptable activities, like interactive food puzzles or appropriate chew toys.
While we may talk about this approach in terms of providing the dog with ‘entertainment,’ this is actually a behavior solution called differential reinforcement of other behaviors.
Simply put, you’re supplying the dog with something else to do other than the “bad” behavior. If he is chewing an acceptable chew toy, he is not chewing the stuffing out of the couch.
Fortunately, there are a variety of items, including treat-stuffable toys like Kongs or remote-controlled treat machines, that can entertain your dog while encouraging him to use his brain.
MONITOR THE SITUATION
While web cams are great for dog owners to keep track of what’s happening with their pet while they aren’t home, you can also leave an iPad or tablet running on video for a cheaper option.
It may run out of battery, but it will get some footage to review later. Even if the dog isn’t always in the footage, you can hear if they are crying, scratching, chewing, or pacing, so it can be helpful.
For something more technical, you can use a Furbo camera which provides a video feed to the owner and can also be programmed to alert the pet parent when a dog is barking.
In addition, the owner can talk with the pet and dispense treats remotely. Be aware though, that for some pets, hearing the owner’s voice and not being able to see or access them could increase their anxiety.
CONSIDER A DOG WALKER
Depending on factors like your dog’s age, temperament, size and exercise needs, you might consider hiring a dog walker. You want to make sure they are not only nice to your dog, but interacting with your dog in a positive, structured way.
TIRE HIM OUT WHEN YOU’RE HOME
As part of meeting your dog’s needs so that he isn’t under stress while you’re gone, remember the important role of regular exercise.
Active play and a chance to get some vigorous exercise in the morning before you go to work will make all the difference in the world for your dog.
Keep in mind before deciding which type of dog to bring home in the first place.
Choose your companion wisely based on how much time you truly have available. Don’t engage in wishful thinking and get a Border Collie to live in your apartment. It’s not a reasonable expectation to expect a working dog to stay sane and happy in that kind of situation.
~At Heart Arrow We Love Pets~
Thanks to PETMD for portions of this article