Bringing home a new dog is a big adjustment, and hopefully, your wriggly new addition is content as can be. He's surrounded by the nonstop love and attention of his new family.
But, as Monday morning approaches, anxiety creeps in. Jobs and school could force you to leave your dog at home for a few hours (unless you're among the fortunate few that get to bring your dog to work with you). So, how can you make sure your dog stays safe and happy while you're away?
Crate Train Your Dog
A crate, if used correctly, can be your best tool in housebreaking a dog. It can also be your pup's go-to spot when he's home alone — a haven and a place for a nice nap. While a crate might be a good option for at least part of a 9-to-5 workday, you want to be careful not to overdo it. Consider that if your dog has been in the crate all night, is it fair to leave him cooped up all day too? Crates can be a valuable tool, but use them with care so that your dog doesn't dread the enclosure.
Designate a Dog-Proof Room
If you have to leave your dog home all day, think about dog-proofing a small room in your home that can be closed off from the rest of the house. PetMD lists several points pet parents should address when dog-proofing a room:
- Lock away trash receptacles
- Remove hazardous chemicals, like cleaning supplies and medications
- Cover electrical outlets
- Remove objects that he's likely to chew or swallow, like shoes, craft supplies and coins
Basically, get rid of absolutely everything your dog could get into while you're gone. A good room to choose might be one with an easy-to-clean floor, such as tile. Set up designated spaces for potty, sleeping and play. Leave water and chew toys so he doesn't get bored, and lay out newspapers or puppy pads on the floor in case of accidents. If your new dog is a puppy, accidents are bound to happen. Leave him alone in the room for a few minutes at a time until he gets used to the idea, then slowly increase the amount of time he's alone. As he starts to adapt to this room, and you feel comfortable with his behavior, you can start to expand his access to more of the home when you're away. Good tests for this are when you're only going to be away for a couple of hours like a trip to the grocery store. If he can behave in a larger area for a short time, you can also slowly lengthen the time he's allowed to roam in the house while you're away until you reach a full workday.
Hire a Dog Walker
A walk during the day is more than just good exercise for your pup. A good walk can also stimulate him by engaging all his senses, help socialize him with other animals and humans, and speed up the house training process. In addition, a good walk will tire your pup, which may make him less likely to chew or engage in other destructive behaviors while he waits for you to return home. If you have children home for the summer, this is a great way to help strengthen their bond with your pup as well as get them out of the house for a bit and get their own exercise.
Enroll in Doggy Daycare
A quality doggy daycare offers a much-needed outlet for high-energy dogs. A doggy daycare usually lets dogs roam free in play, offer activities and games, and have staff members who give plenty of love and attention to your pup. A daycare can be a good option for families who have hectic lives, seniors or anyone else who doesn't have the time or ability to give their dog the exercise or time he requires. Vetstreet advises selecting a facility that's clean and safe, and has a staff who will pamper your dog as much as you do! Make sure to read your reviews or ask friends and family of quality daycare places, and make sure to do a tour of the facility before leaving your dog. The nice part of a doggy daycare is that you don't have to take your dog every day, which can sometimes get expensive. A day or two at the daycare will help get your pup exercise as well as socialize him with other pups — an important step in his development.
Take Some Time Off
"Pawternity" leave is a new concept that's taking off in the UK, reports USA Today. Talk to your boss about whether she might be open to you taking a few days off, working from home, or stepping out for an extra half hour at lunch so you can run home to take your dog for a midday walk. Be honest and don't guilt your boss into being accommodating. But, it won't hurt to share photos of your new canine family member and describe the heartbreaking puppy eyes you get every morning when you leave the house. Adopting a new puppy (or any dog) for that matter is a big responsibility. You should only do so when you know you and your family will have time to devote to him, his training and development.
Bringing home a new pet takes lots of time, love and devotion, and it's impossible to explain to your furry bundle of joy that you have to go to work. But by thinking through your options and having a plan in place, you can avoid the stress and guilt you feel when you have to leave your dog alone. And if it's any consolation, it makes the time you do get to spend together all that more special.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer in Erie, Pa. with a goldendoodle named Maddie.