This post first published on Care2.com.
It always makes me smile when I enter my dog-walking clients’ homes to find the cartoon PAW Patrol or the Nature Channel playing on the TV. I totally understand, because I turn on the radio to keep our dogs company when they are home alone, too.
It isn’t easy leaving our pets alone for hours, but there are things we can do to help them. Try these ways to keep your dogs and cats happy when they’re alone.
KEEP DOGS HAPPY WHEN YOU’RE AWAY
1. Break Up the Day with Exercise
Some dogs left home alone can suffer from cabin fever leading to stress and anxiety. According to experts at the Animal Behavior College, access to the backyard is no substitute for a nice long walk. These outings will benefit your dog physically while also providing mental stimulation.
If you work close to home, consider spending your lunchtime walking your dog. When that’s not possible, having a professional dog walker or trusted neighbor take your dog for a mid-day walk helps break up the day.
2. Leave a Treat-Dispensing Toy
Interactive toys that require dogs to work for their treats can help relieve boredom when they’re home alone.
Our favorite is the Classic Kong. We stuff the cavity in the middle with a combination of kibble and peanut butter and freeze it overnight to make it last longer.
The WholeDog Journal offers a helpful evaluation of treat-dispensing toys based on such traits as sturdiness, safety, entertainment value and affordability.
3. Turn on the TV or Radio
Many dog owners leave the TV or radio on to keep their dogs company when home alone. Veterinarian Jeff Werber, founder of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles, said in a blog post that some dogs with separation anxiety may respond well to radio music or TV when trained to have a positive association to the sound.
Another entertainment option is DOGTV, which provides audio-visual therapy for dogs to help treat loneliness, anxiety and separation in dogs.