It’s one thing to leave your dog home alone when you’ve got a quick errand to run. It’s a whole other situation when you leave your fur kiddo home for the eight hours or so while you’re at work. But it’s a pretty common scenario. Most dog owners know the feeling; it’s hard not think about the little floofer being all alone basically all day. Are they lonely? Do they have to pee? Are they mad at you for being gone all the time? But the reality is you have to go to work, so how do you help your dog feel less lonely while you’re at work all day?
Allison Stadd, vice president of Reach and Affinity for dog toy product company BARK, tells Bustle the company’s team of more than 350 “expert dog people” has found that there are actually many ways you can reduce your dog’s anxiety and keep them distracted while you’re gone. Stadd says that researchers have found that playing Mozart has shown to reduce dogs’ stress compared to the TV or radio.
Stadd also says you can decrease your pup’s anxiety when you leave by acting like it’s no big deal. Don’t make a big to-do by saying big goodbyes; just put your shoes on and leave like it’s no big thang, says Stadd. Or, if you want to make it a positive experience, give your kiddo a treat every time you walk out the door.
There are lots of ways to help your dog when you’re gone at work all day, so here are a few more options to make your pooch more comfortable.
1. Know The Best Place For Your Dog In The House
Not all dogs are safe or comfortable roaming the house freely. According to the Central California SPCA, you need to figure out the safest place for your dog before you leave them alone in the house. That could be crated, in a section of the house that’s gated off, in a single room, or completely roaming free, says the CCSPCA.
2. Figure Out How Long Your Can Be Dog Alone
The CCSPCA also says you need to figure out how long your pupper can be left alone. Does your dog get anxious after a certain amount of time? Does your dog have bladder control issues? Every dog is different, so figure out what works best for your canine bestie.
3. Don’t Rush Your Dog’s Morning Potty
You might be rushing to get out the door to get to work, but your dog doesn’t share your feelings of urgency. Sandi Laird, animal care director at Operation Kindness, told USA Today that not every dog goes to the bathroom as soon as it gets outside. Give your dog the time it needs to take an adequate bathroom break before you leave for an entire day.
4. Turn On Your Dog’s Favorite TV Station
Not all dogs pay attention to the TV, says USA TODAY, but if yours does, pick a TV channel you know your dog enjoys. “I have this one guy who always has (ESPN’s) SportsCenter on for his dog,” Catherine Adamo, owner of Royal Oak Dog Walkers in Royal Oak, Michigan, told USA TODAY.
5. Open Some Curtains So Your Dog Can See Outside
You might enjoy your privacy while you’re home, but your floofer will appreciate the ability to see the world outside while you’re gone, according to the Natural Dog Owner. Before you leave, says the Natural Dog Owner, open some curtains or blinds so your dog can peek outside.
6. Leave Your Dog An Interactive Toy
Distracting your pupper is a great way to keep them from feeling lonely while you’re gone. The Dog People recommends leaving your dog with an interactive toy, like a puzzle toy or a treat toy that they’ll have to spend a little time to figure out.
7. Make A Cozy Space For Your Dog
Make sure your dog has a comfortable space in your house with cozy items like a bed, blankets, and items that smell like you, like old shirts, says The Dog People. This will help your dog feel like it has its own secure den in your home.
8. Go For Nice Long Walks With Your Dog When You Can
Dogs can become destructive while they’re home alone because they’re bored or have pent up energy, says Furbo, a company that provides security cameras for dog owners. When you make sure your fur kiddo gets the exercise it needs, it’ll be worn out and content while you’re off at work, according to Furbo.
9. Stop By During the Work Day
If at all possible, The Dog People recommends stopping by at some point during the work day to break up your dog’s day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes of pets or playtime, The Dog People says your dog will appreciate the attention.
10. Take Your Dog To Work
OK, this one is kind of a cheat, but The Spruce Pets says having dogs in the workplace can have a positive impact on employee productivity and attitude, so if your employer doesn’t offer a dog-friendly workplace, talk to your boss about changing that. It could be good for both you and your pet!
11. Have Daily Bonding Sessions
You and your dog love and need each other, so take some time out of every day to give your dog your undivided attention, says The Spruce Pets. Even if it’s just a 10-minute cuddle-sesh, your dog deserves to know how much you love it.
As much as you might want to, you can’t take your fur kiddo everywhere. (BARK even has a specific playlist for that particular feeling of sadly driving away from your fur baby in the morning.) But there are definitely ways you can help your dog feel less lonely while you’re gone.