Guide to Leaving Your Dog Home Alone in The Summer
How should I prepare when I need to leave my dog, home alone in the summer?
We all have lives, busy and stressful, filled with many activities and agendas. We travel, work hard, exercise, eat well, take family breaks and relaxation breaks. There are appointments to meet, deadlines to meet, people to meet and life in general, to be lived.
Good or bad, most of our modern lives are jam packed.
We strive every day and evening to make time for those we love. Our family and friends need us, and that includes our beloved dog. We throw the ball for them, take them on that morning run, let them sleep beside us on the bed when we would love more room to spread out. They are almost always, our constant companion.
When we venture out to those crazy lives, we all live, it can be very difficult for us to leave our fury friends home alone. It is also very hard for them to see us go. They want to be by our side, on every adventure and while that might sound wonderful, sometimes they just can’t go for reasons beyond our control.
Sometimes our time away is short, merely an hour or two, while occasionally our lives take us on longer journeys for business or leisure that can last several days. These long separations can be very hard but with proper and thoughtful planning these moments can go smoothly.
Bidding your pup goodbye is sometimes hard when they want to push their way out the door right with you, other times not so much when we are beyond stressed and late.
In order to leave your dog safe, happy and content while you are away it is first necessary to understand a few important things about dogs in general.
Most dogs are social by nature, they will enjoy the company of others. You are their pack leader and you, therefore, bring them security no matter how big the pack.
Once this is understood you can take into consideration the temperament of the dog, their personality and your living situation.
Some dogs can find it very difficult to be separated from their loved one, whining, barking, day after day. They suffer from separation anxiety and can act this anxiety out in a variety of ways. From chewing your pillow to scratching at doors none stop, jumping out window screens that are open to refusing to eat or drink, it can be hard for them to manage. They may sleep what would appear to be a depressive sleep of melancholy when they get lonely or become disinterested in their favorite toy.
There are, however, some wonderful things that we as dog owners can do to ease this stress while we are away.
Creating noises in the background that can be distracting and soothing at the same time can bring them comfort from loneliness and help to ease their anxiety.
Whether music is chosen or the blurring of a TV program this method has been used for a long time to ease a dog’s tension when the owner is away.
Your dog knows you like the back of their paw. They most likely know you even better than you do. Since they are guided predominantly by scent it stands to reason that leaving your scent is a good idea. Using an item, you just wore recently, maybe yesterday’s sweaty gym t-shirt or even a sock, for them to sleep on or nuzzle will soothe their stress.
This might sound disgusting when you think of how much you sweated in that shirt but for your dog it is a way of keeping you close while you can’t physically be with them. For those with dogs that love to chew, use caution with this method…you might just come home to find your favorite shirt all over the living room!
Monitors and Apps
Thanks to modern technology there are some amazing apps and monitors these days that allow you to talk and see your dog, and they you. Setting one of these up in a spot where they will be able to see and communicate with you can be great fun.
Imagine their delight when they hear your voice, see your face, or both in the middle of a very long day away from each other. It may be very confusing to them at first but as time goes own, since dogs are creatures of ritual, they will look forward to these daily get togethers while your away, as much as you will.
Talking the Talk
We all talk to our dogs, right? Hey, most of us even talk to ourselves regularly so we won’t go there….
When you are getting ready to leave, or are about to, stand at the exit of your home and talk to your dog. Giving them some conversation. Be good Gemma, I will be back, I will miss you, etc. Of course, pet them and give them some affection, maybe a dog treat or two, or toss the ball a moment and reiterate that one last time as you exit your home. Hopefully this goes smoothly, repeating it every time you leave the home without them will stay with them eventually, and they will get the concept.
If your budget allows, hiring a sitter to come in once a day, while your away can be a good choice. We all know they can never replace you, but this idea can prevent the loneliness that comes with sometimes long separations. The sitter can come in, take them for a walk or let them run the yard. They can also play with your dog, feed them, give them some fresh water and show them some much needed love.
Taking your dog’s personality and temperament is a top priority before deciding which way to go. If your dog doesn’t like a lot of noise, then background noise would be out, if they don’t like to many other people beside family then having a sitter may not be an option.
Never leave your dog outside when you are away. Whether your separation from your dog is for an hour or 3 weeks this is not something that should be done for the safety and well-being of your dog.
Controlling the Damage
Now we get down the fun stuff of leaving your dog home alone. You have shown them love and done everything you can to ease the transition. Now comes damage control, how to manage boredom and bad behaviors that can often arise while you are away.
We all wish they would behave, but we understand how difficult it can be, trapped inside a house with not much to do. Whether it is barking, whining, ripping and shredding things, or digging and trashing the house, dogs get bored and lonely just like we do.
Below are some tips for making them more comfortable while you are away.
Providing a safe place for them to hang out is mandatory. Whether you choose to crate them for your peace of mind or not is entirely up to you. If that is the case, this tip can be passed over.
For those who choose not to crate your dog, providing a safe zone for them will give you, and them peace of mind. Maybe they have a favorite room in the house, the living room with the view of the backyard that you can set up the room in away that is safe. Remove things that are easily broken or will hurt like glass vases, etc. Set up a the zone with a resting spot, some favorite toys, sounds they might enjoy, their water bowl, a few hidden treats that you have placed where you know they go but maybe with luck they won’t find them until much later and some dog food in their bowl. Not a spa treatment but as close as a dog can get while you are gone.
Prior to leaving your dog, if possible, that is give them some activity. Hopefully enough to tire them out for a while. A nice long walk or run with you. Throwing a frisbee in the yard or at a park with them or taking them to a dog park for some much-needed socialization are all great ways to enrich your dog’s life but also tire them out. Obviously, the more activity you provide, the more tired they are, but then again so are you and you must go out in that big, crazy world and get it all done so use common sense.
Added to the long list we all have before we leave the house, once you have tried in vain, I am sure to exhaust your dog, sit down and offer some good old-fashioned love and affection prior to leaving. Talk to them, sit with them, brush them, pet them, whatever it is they really like. This affection must last until the next time you see each other. Think of those very special people in your life whom you have a hard time separating from, how important it is to make those last moments special until you are together again. This can go a long way in taming the bad behavior. The more attention you give to this, the better. This is probably one of the most important things you can do besides activity.
Since it is Summertime now, we will take a moment to discuss keeping them comfortable during this season. The season for fun and travel, outdoor adventures and activities and sometimes more moments spent apart from your best friend. Below is a list of ideas to help minimize the stress involved, for your best friend no matter how long you will be separated.
Depending on where you live, during the summer months it can get very hot out. Ensuring that your pet is in a climate-controlled area is for their overall health. If you don’t have an air conditioner than a fan or an open window is a great option, unless of course your dog likes to push through the window screen. While most people believe dogs are fine in the warm weather, their bodies aren’t really designed to handle extreme hot weather depending on their breed. Knowing your dogs breeding if possible and using that as your guide are essential to their overall health. Taking that into consideration is highly important. Dogs with longer coats or bushy coats need a cool breeze to help keep them healthy on a hot day. Dogs with shorter coats like a chihuahua may better handle the hot.
No matter what type of dog you have, providing plenty of water is of the utmost importance. Some people throw in some ice cubes. Or a better option is one with cool water and the other a frozen block of water in a dog bowl. As the day wears on and the heat rises, the ice will gently melt. This will ensure that your dog always has cool water to drink.
A Cool Place to Rest
During the summer months, if it is hot where you reside changing the location of where you keep you pet can be beneficial to them. Things like carpeting and heavy furnishings hold the heat so if you aren’t using an air conditioner, possibly finding a spot in the home that has stone, linoleum or tile and not so many furnishings will aide in keeping them healthy and cool while you are away.
During the summertime it is a good idea to have someone look after your dog from time to time depending on how long you will be away from them. This ensures their safety and well-being. This person, whether family, friend or hired dog-sitter can check to make sure everything is in order. Care for your dogs needs and report to you with any problems that may arise.
Leaving you pet behind while you go out into the world can be a very hard thing for you to do. The tips and ideas listed above are not exhaustive but merely a start to help you create a loving, healthy and safe environment for you dog. While you are gone, they will have emotions and feelings both physical and mental that they may or may not be able to comprehend. Taking the time to ensure that their needs are met on multiple levels will provide the best possible outcome for them and you. It will bring both of you peace of mind and heart during what is often a difficult time.
Separation is sometimes a part of our everyday lives as we temporarily leave those we love and care about to conduct our own lives. It doesn’t always have to be as difficult as it seems, and sometimes those separations make the reuniting all that more special for the appreciation that comes from being away, appreciating each other being in our lives. Love your dog as they do you, they are family.