Leaving your pet alone while you go out to work, to run errands or to a child’s activity, can be trouble for many pet owners. How do I avoid this scenario and keep my pet entertained while I’m gone? Well, meet Mabel. This high energy puppy keeps herself busy, and not in a good way, when her daddy goes to work. I should also mention, his wooden side table barely has any legs left on the front, his leather ottoman has a big hole in it, and Mabel has “removed” all his sound enhancing material from his wall. Not a pleasant homecoming for pet or owner.
Leaving your pet can cause stress and upset for the owner AND the pet. Your pet may have separation anxiety and/or start getting into things they shouldn’t, because they’re bored. Owners feel guilty about leaving their pet alone, and they can become frustrated and angry over the destructive aftermath when they return home. What can you do?
Toys. Toys. Toys.
Make sure your pet has a multitude of toys to play with. Chew toys, rope toys, noise makers and balls are all great choices, and be sure to rotate the toys so the pet doesn’t become bored. Pet toys that keep your animals mentally stimulated and occupied are also good choices. Interactive mats and puzzles that have compartments for treats will keep your pet hard at work and keep them out of your garbage and plants. Have your kids, before school, hide treats within the pet’s space, to find while the family is away. They will love being part of the fun.
Pet owners have embraced technology by installing cameras to see and talk to your pet when you’re absent. Automatic pet treat dispensers are a popular purchase, and many have cameras also. You can try leaving your television or a radio on for viewing and noise. Music can soothe and calm pets. Do you have a retriever or a pet that loves to play ball? Technology is wonderful. Try a self-fetching toy to keep them engaged.
Exercise for pets is important, just like it is for us. It keeps them healthy, limber and calmer. More importantly they will be happier. Make time before you leave for a brisk walk or run, any exercise that your pet can enjoy, before being left alone. If your dog is older or smaller and can’t keep up with your exercise routine, consider a pet stroller or jogger, so you can take them along. The outdoor stimulation will certainly help. Exercise will help tire out your pet and make them calmer. This will help with excessive barking, licking and help them feel confident in their environment. If you’re not able to do this, consider hiring a dog walker, whether it be a trusted neighbor or someone off a pet care website. Make sure you have reliable and safe collars, leashes and/or harnesses for you and your pets safety.
Create a View
Many pets enjoy being able to see outside, and a window with a view, may just be the thing your animal needs. Cats love to have their gyms and trees by a window in the sunshine. Dogs will enjoy a perch in front of the glass also, with the ability to see out and view the comings and goings of the neighborhood. Of course, if your animal becomes over excited by things like people walking by, squirrels and birds or other animals, this may not be for them.
Two is Better Than One
You may consider getting another pet to help keep your animal company. They will have a friend to snuggle and play with and have more security because they’re not alone.
Some animals become distressed within minutes of their owner’s leaving, and they begin to exhibit disruptive and destructive behavior. Pets can urinate or defecate inside, they may chew or scratch furniture, they could bark and howl constantly and may pace for hours. Where some of these behaviors may have you thinking your pet needs some behavior training, if it’s accompanied by distressed behaviors, like excessive panting and drooling, it’s likely separation anxiety. If your pet starts to become anxious and disruptive before you even leave, you know there’s a problem. You may try some calming treats or anxiety medication to help relieve their symptoms.
Hopefully, just a few tweaks to your pets routine with some of these ideas, will help ease the anxiety both pet and owner feel when they're separated.