Posted on September 14th, 2012
There are several ways you can help to ensure that your dog is feeling happy and staying active while you and your family are away during the day.
A good idea is to do some fun activities with your dog before you leave the house.
Try making some time in your routine for a walk together before you leave for work or the kids go to school. That way both dog and humans will be getting exercise and you’ll be spending some quality time together.
If there isn’t enough time to go on a walk in the morning, try having a play session before you leave the house. You can give your dog some exercise and tire her out so she’ll spend at least part of the rest of the day relaxing until you return.
The following are some tips to help enhance your dog’s home environment:
Introduce a new toy. A new toy can add some excitement during the day while your dog is home alone. A tough chew toy that can’t be torn apart while you’re gone is best, just in case your dog likes to gobble things up. Also rotate toys: After a day or two, put one toy away so it’s out of sight and mind, and bring out another to replace it. This will keep all of your dog’s toys fresh and exciting.
Fill up a treat-dispensing toy. Coaxing a toy to dispense treats may be a fun “alone time” activity for your dog. The treat toy will help entice your dog to stay active and the rewards will enforce good behavior during your absence. Even the laziest dog may not be able to resist a toy that gives out yummy treats when you play with it.
Add a fountain. Making sure your dog has enough water for the day while no one is home is very important, and a dog fountain can provide a constant supply of clean fresh water while also piquing your dog’s interest. Many dogs love water and the running water of a fountain can create a diversion for your dog. Be sure to have the regular bowl of water out just in case your dog does not take to the fountain while you’re away.
Use sound and video media. Pleasant sounds and video images in the home help your dog from feeling like he or she is alone when no one else is around. On some days, you can play a soothing classical CD. On other days, you can leave the TV on and put in a “for dogs only” video that will let your dog enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors without having to leave the doggy bed.
Create a comfortable napping place. It’s inevitable that your dog will want to snooze part of the day away while you’re gone, so set up a comfortable place for your dog to relax. A soft bed in a darkened room is always calming. If your dog has been crate-trained, you can leave the crate door open and put a bed inside the crate, making it the perfect doggy den for napping.
Use a dog pheromone. If you sense that being alone causes anxiety in your dog, try using a dog-appeasing pheromone diffuser, spray, or collar. The pheromone released by these products is similar to one that a lactating mother would emit to calm her newborn puppies. This pheromone will be familiar to your dog and create a sense of relaxation. You can place the diffuser in a room that is usually occupied by your dog, apply the spray to a dog bed, or have your dog wear the collar.
Install a dog door. If you have an enclosed yard in which your dog is safe to roam around while you’re gone, consider installing a dog door. The door will allow your dog to leave and re-enter the house at will, and to enjoy the sensory delights that your neighborhood has to offer.
Hire dog caretakers. This is a good option for dogs who are going through training or who suffer from separation anxiety. You can take your dog to a day care facility where your companion will be under constant supervision, or you can have a dog sitter or dog walker come to your home and make sure that your dog is getting the attention and exercise he or she needs while you’re out. Your dog may greatly appreciate the mid-day exercise and visit.
Consider a second dog. Deciding whether to get another dog—and integrating a new dog into the household—are major undertakings that are beyond the scope of this article. But if Resident Dog and New Dog get along, each may benefit greatly from having company during parts of the day that would otherwise be spent alone.
Posted on June 13th, 2012
Do you have a dog?
Are you lucky enough to live somewhere your dog has a yard? Though your dog may have room to roam outside, there are some important things to keep in mind for your dog’s well-being.
Check out this article from the ASPCA:
If you live in the city, your urban canine is probably on a three-walk-a-day schedule for exercising, socializing and eliminating. But if your home comes equipped with a yard and a fence, keeping a dog becomes much easier. The simplicity of giving your dog his morning constitutional while you’re still garbed in a robe and slippers can’t be beat. Add a dog door, and you don’t even have to get out of bed! Phydeau can meet his own needs on his own schedule. However, some dog guardians use the yard as a crutch and, before you know it, the backyard becomes Phydeau’s entire world. How much is too much of a good thing?
Who Put the Dog Out?
When dogs become adolescents, they can’t seem to get enough exercise, and their inconsistencies often frustrate their owners. One day Phydeau seems all grown up; the next day, he’s chewing his way through the house like a buzz saw. In a fit of pique, Phydeau’s owner banishes him to the backyard. At first it may be just during meals to prevent begging, or when company comes, to prevent jumping. Next, it’s during work hours so he doesn’t soil or chew when left alone. Before long, the only time Phydeau sees the inside of the house is during storms or winter freezes. Is this any life for a dog?
Turning a rambunctious adolescent into a backyard dog doesn’t solve anything. It merely brings temporary relief. True, your dog can’t climb into cranky old Aunt Edna’s lap if he’s outdoors, but he’ll also never learn how to behave appropriately around house guests. A dog who’s kept outside experiences social isolation. He may engage in excessive barking and howling in an attempt to reunite his pack. When a family member enters the yard to spend some time with him, he erupts into rapturous leaps and vocalizations, displaying a level of enthusiasm certain to squelch any possibility that that person will ever make a return visit.
Over time, an isolated outdoor dog will become exceedingly independent and difficult to train. Whatever desire he had to please will be gone, replaced by the need to occupy his time in any way possible. His motto becomes “If it feels good, do it!” Dig up the tulip bulbs. Excavate a cooling pit. Fence-fight with the dog next door. Without human feedback to the contrary, these are all rewarding activities for a backyard dog. There is nothing wrong with letting a well-mannered dog spend a lazy day lying in the grass, soaking up the sun or playing in the fallen leaves. But when the yard takes the place of teaching your dog appropriate house manners, you need to step back and examine why you have a dog.
Come Rain or Come Shine
If your dog enjoys spending a considerable amount of time outside, he needs protection from the elements. A doghouse can offer access to cool shade on a hot day or shelter from the cold, rain or wind. When providing a doghouse, make sure the opening does not face into the wind during the coldest months of the year. If the opening is large, hang some carpet strips over the doorway to keep heat in and cold out; and provide good insulated bedding, such as straw, to keep the dog up off cold ground. Remember to clean the place out every few months to ensure that no other beasties have set up house—a nest of yellow jackets was discovered in one poor Brittany spaniel’s outdoor shelter.
If your dog spends more than an hour outdoors on a hot day or several hours outside other times of the year, make sure he has fresh water available. Weigh down his water container, or affix it to a stationary object in such a way that he can’t easily tip it over. His meals are best served in your house, because leftover food will attract unwanted insects and possibly wildlife.
For those situations where there is either no fence or a need to keep Phydeau out of certain areas such as your begonia bed, build a sturdy exercise pen, where your dog can do “dog things” without incurring the wrath of family gardeners or neighbors. If you live in a community that prohibits fences, an overhead trolley cable may be the answer. However, these lines aren’t safe for dogs with powerful acceleration, such as greyhounds. The impact when they hit the end of the line is considerable, and spinal cord damage is likely. Staked chains should be avoided because they can kink and tangle, and injure the dog.
Dogs are companion animals and, as such, belong in our homes and in our lives. Just because you have a backyard doesn’t mean that Phydeau should be restricted to it. Take the time to teach him house manners and socialize him to the world beyond your property, and you will discover you have within him the best possible companion.