What Does Your Dog Do Every Day?
You gather your keys to head out the door, and you stop to give your pooch a little bit of extra love before you go – and you get the distinct impression that Fido is rushing you out the door.
Your ‘parent radar’ is instantly on alert, and images of wild pet parties with a bottomless kibble bag and drinking out of the outlawed porcelain water bowl play through your imagination.
Of course that’s silly… Isn’t it?
As you close and lock the door, a last glance at your pup leaves you with more questions than answers: just what does your dog do all day?
Watching The World Go By
There’s a sweet looking husky mix that lives a few blocks away. Pretty little thing, with beautiful ears and a long body. You can see him at all times of the day, stretched out along the back of the couch, staring out the picture window like he’s binge-watching the latest season of Gray’s Anatomy on Netflix.
This isn’t unusual activity for dogs. Given the option, most canines are content to watch over their territory from the comfort of their throne.
If left home alone for extended periods of time, consider allowing your dog access to windows on the side of the house where there’s action during the day. Watching the birds hunt for worms, the squirrels zip up and down the trees in an impromptu game of ‘tag’, the different vehicles driving around your neighborhood, and even keeping an eye on other humans will keep your pup entertained and mentally stimulated for hours at a time.
A Little Privacy, Please
For many dogs – especially smaller breeds – roaming the house all alone for extended periods of time may lead to anxiety. Unfortunately, anxiety often exhibits itself in the form of bad habits.
Like, really bad habits.
An anxious pup has the ability to rain down destructive chaos that might have you looking over the horizon for the four horsemen.
If you’ve been experiencing destructive behavior, you might consider crating your dog during the day.
There’s some good points on both side of the crating debate that need to be considered, as well as your own motivations.
Some of the pros of crating during the day could include: providing a safe, comfortable and familiar situation, limiting the feeling of being alone, and eliminating the oppressive vastness of the abode. Eliminating these three stressors will make a world of difference on the canine of the house.
If you should decide on daytime crating, please keep three things in mind:
- Crating should never be used as a punishment
- The crate should always be in an area where there’s visual stimulation
- Your pup ought to have their toys or safe chews
Rather than choosing between free roam of the house or crating, consider a third option: open crating. Leaving the crate open during the day, with a blanket covering the top and three sides, gives your pup the option of going in and out while still allowing them to wander around the home.
But deciding to use a crate or crate training your dog is not something that’s done on a whim – or over a weekend.
Crate training is started young and is a process to get them not only comfortable with the crate, but to give them the security that their crate is their home. It incorporates positive reinforcement and is a slow process, with results that will last your dog’s lifetime. So before you run out and buy a crate, talk to your vet or our team of experts so you understand the requirements and expectations of crate training.
A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That
Something many puppy parents forget is the difference between appropriate and inappropriate toys. Those old shoes might seem like a cheap and fun toy, but unfortunately your dog does not know the difference between old, worn out flip-flopsand that delicious new pair of Stuart Weitzmans that you’ve been waiting for a special occasion to wear. Same thing goes for socks or t-shirts that are tied into balls. A good rule of thumb: if you don’t want your dog to chew on the brand new version, don’t give them an old or worn-out version. This goes for stuffed animals, too.
Don’t forget the potty routine; getting your dog on a regular schedule is surprisingly simple – but you will need to keep it in mind when leaving your dog inside the house for extended periods of time. If Fido is doing the potty dance, there’s bound to be added stress or an accident – and in the end it will probably be both.
Sometimes all your dog needs is a little extra lovin’ before you hit the road. A walk every morning before you head off into the world will go a long way in burning off that extra energy, and since dogs thrive with routine, you can be assured of a happier and healthier dog.
The one thing your dog is guaranteed to be doing during the day – and lets be honest, we all wish we were doing – is napping. While most canines require between 10 and 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, it’s not unusual for dogs to nap out of boredom. This is not necessarily a sign of depression, and should not be the cause of alarm – unless your dog chooses to sleep rather than engage in activities with the rest of the family.
To make those afternoon naps even more delightful, consider moving a doggie bed in the direct path of the incoming sunlight.
Like kids that to get into stuff they shouldn’t when they are left home alone, your dog is not immune to the draw of the dark side. The lure of the garbage can, or temptation of the couch or bed might be too much for your dog to resist. If their willpower is weak (which it likely is), then consider closing doors or placing a toddler gate across the kitchen.
There’s several other layers of safety that need to be considered while you’re off at work or on other errands that leave your dog home alone:
- Make sure all chemicals or cleaning supplies are up and out of the way
- The windows should be closed far enough so that your dog cannot get out
- Even though they are home, you should ensure the tags are on your dog, with all shots up to date
It’s not definitive if it helps or not, but most puppy parents feel better putting a small notice on the window notifying emergency personnel of four-legged kids in the house.
The Best Option May Be …
Rather than considering it as a last resort, you might want to look into doggie daycare.
Yeah, we know. Although it might sound unnecessary, the truth is doggie daycare if more than just a fad for the yuppie crowd.
On the contrary, if you can get past the unfortunate colloquialism, you will discover that controlled socialization for several days each week will have a positive impact on your dog in more ways than you may have originally anticipated.
One of the primary benefits is building good social skills. Socialization will ensure that your dog can remain calm and well behaved in a variety of situations, including meeting other dogs on the street – especially with that escape artist from the next block over. Keeping your dog active and burning off the pent-up energy will keep them fit both physically and mentally.
Also, allowing your dog access to take care of their potty needs, keeping their feeding schedule, and even ensuring that if your pup is on medication, it is administered in a timely fashion, all ensure their optimal health.
So next time you head out the door and your pup gives you ‘ the look’, know you have them figured out – and have a plan to remain top dog in your house.