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How to prepare your dog for alone time

This summer brought the arrival of a lot of new puppies and adult dogs into homes on the Coast. As we head into the fall and many people have a change of routine which may include the dog spending more time alone. Here are some tips to make a change easier for the family dog.

Make sure the dog has exercise in the morning.  This can be a walk outside with time to enjoy the scents he or she encounters, or through playing with the dog.  Scent discrimination games are tiring for dogs (both mentally and physically) and are good for boosting a dog’s confidence.  A simple one is to have the dog find treats in boxes and do search work that way. Teach the dog a game called “tug” with a tug toy and play it (with all the rules) to help tire the dog, and to help with bite inhibition in young dogs, and as reward for other behaviors. Carry a tug toy with you when you are walking an adolescent dog to help redirect any mouthing he may try on the leash or clothing while walking.  Invest in a long tug toy that can drag on the ground and, then, encourage the dog to follow the toy and then grab the toy instead of clothing or the leash. Check out for other game ideas or other internet resources.

Playtime can help tire a dog out, which helps if the dog has to be left alone afterward. Here, three dogs are helping tire each other out. Jane Bowers photo

Arrange for playtimes with a dog friend to tire your dog out so he is likely to rest if he has to be left alone.

Create an area in your house where the dog feels, and is, safe.  Non-consumable, food dispensing dog toys in the “safe” area can help entertain a dog who may have to be left on his own for a while.

If your pup has trouble being left alone, there are products to help like Dog Appeasing Pheromone and other calming aids to help the dog relax.

In addition, enlisting the help of a qualified dog walker or daycare can help make the transition easier.

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