You aren't alone. Pet parents across the country struggle with their dog’s emotions, not to mention their own, when it comes time to leave their four leggeds at home.
- I've heard it all before. Let me guess, does it goes a little something like this?
You tread off to work, those big brown eyes gazing at you from the window. Is that a tear you see on the glass? No! It can't be! Maybe it's just slobber, but you swore you could hear him bargaining to bring you back in.
- Just to be extra clear, I'm talking about your dog, not your husband.
As pet parents, we are always looking for ways to relieve the emotional tax. Not only to help our dogs, but also to relieve some of our own guilt. The good news? It probably really is just your own burden.
- You know the saying, "It's not you, it's me?"...…..unlike when your college boyfriend said it, this time it's true.
Usually the distress we imagine our dog to be feeling is really just our own anguish that we are projecting onto our them.
- You're regretting not booking an appointment with that therapist your sister recommended now, aren't you?
Jokes aside, please don't beat yourself up. We’re all human. We are compassionate and empathetic beings, qualities that we certainly wouldn’t want to squander, but sometimes, in situations like these, it may be causing a hindrance to seeing reality.
Now, please don’t misunderstand, as a professional, I’m undoubtedly forever thankful for the growing awareness to a dog’s psyche and need for mental enrichment. I’m simply trying to help alleviate some of the emotional turmoil that working pet parents place themselves into 40 hours a week or more by bringing some facts and potential solutions.
For example, did you know that dogs sleep on average 12-14 hours a day? Some large breeds may sleep even more frequently!
- You’re worrying, but most of your dogs are just home snoozin’!
Still, "Howl" will they ever live without you for 8 hours a day? Easy, but first let's make sure we're doing all that we can to keep Rover safe, comfortable and secure.
1.) Where will your dog be staying in your home while you’re away? What location will be most conducive to your dogs safety and comfort?
inside and free
Inside and gated from troublesome areas
Inside and crated
- Remember, you’re the best judge as to what will be safest and most comfortable for your dog.
2.) How long will you be away?
Is your dog able to safely hold their bladder for that period of time?
Can a friend or family member let your dog out for you during the day?
Are you willing to consider an indoor location for elimination as an alternative?
3.) What kind of enrichment are you able to offer your dog?
Create a “magical laundry pile” by playing Hide-A-Treat. Start by wrapping kibble in some old towels, blankets or clothing. Allow your dogs to rummage around in order to access the hidden treats. It's their very own buried treasure.
- Please supervise. I really don't want Rover to ingest your girlfriends bra during his explorations. If you think this may be a hazard for your dog, try a muffin tin with their treats hidden under tennis balls carefully perched over the tops.
Licky mats and Kongs are superb options. Feed your dogs their morning and evening feedings utilizing a kong and freeze it to increase difficulty & fun!
Consider puzzle feeders or sniffy walks. Try tossing some treats into your yard for your dogs to forage for. Hot dogs, cheese and chicken all work very nicely.
Could you leave a TV or radio on?
Ever considered leaving a safe chew with them as a “parting gift?"
Try diffusing lavender.
Look into purchasing “Dog appeasement pheromone” which can be diffused, or applied with a more targeted approach that might aid in soothing and relaxing Rover while you’re away.
Next time you arrive home from a long day at work, cuddle up with your handsome fur-ball and treat yourself to a glass of wine, give him some butt scratches and tell him what a good boy he is.
- Oh, and just to be clear, I’m still not talking about your husband.
*If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional behavior consultant, or veterinary certified behaviorist. Separation anxiety requires the help of a trained professional along with thoughtful, well executed modification plans, as it can be both dangerous and distressing.*