Pet owners with full-time jobs often end up leaving their animals home alone for prolonged periods of time each day. Dogs and cats respond differently to being left alone, and require separate treatment.
Depending on the breed, your dog may be susceptible to separation anxiety. Labradors, cocker specials and poodles suffer more than other breeds. If you know your work will keep you away from home, consider the breed and species before getting an animal. Whether you improve their food and water setup, provide more activities or hire a dog walker, there are many ways to make your pet more comfortable in your absence. Creating a stable environment for your pet will ensure both of you are happy, along with allowing you to avoid losing credibility at work due to pet-related disturbances or distractions.
Several products on the market are geared specifically toward busy pet owners. Some of the top devices designed to help you monitor your pets and keep them entertained and safe when you are gone include:
Automatic feeders and waterers: One of the most pressing issues that worries pet owners is whether their dogs or cats are getting enough food and water during the day. Depending on when your pet eats, you may want to change the system to one that works with your schedule, or invest in an automatic feeder and waterer. These devices automatically dispense food and refill the water bowl in your absence. Using these devices means your pet will always be fed and hydrated – even if you work late.
Walking your dog early in the morning or playing with your cat before you leave will help them expel excess energy. If your pet is tired while you are at work, he or she will sleep throughout the day, and require less attention. Walking your dog early is also great exercise for you, especially if you sit all day in a traditional desk, and gives your dog much-needed stimulation. This is especially important for dogs that require a lot of exercise and live in smaller homes. Exercising these dogs early prevents them from becoming restless throughout the day.
Leaving your pet with things to do will divert the attention away from being alone. Not only do toys, bones and scratching posts entertain cats and dogs, they will also be less likely to chew or scratch your belongings if they have something else on which to focus their attention. Dogs with separation anxiety are known to obsessively lick themselves or tear up furniture. Providing a distraction alleviates these symptoms by keeping their minds off of your absence.
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Giving your pet a companion is another way to keep him or her distracted to feel less lonely. If you cannot get another pet, find a nearby friend or neighbor who has a similar pet, and organize consistent playdates. Providing your pet with a friend offers stability outside of your busy schedule.
There are numerous dog-walking companies and day care centers that specialize in servicing pets that are left alone in the day. If you have a dog that requires a lot of exercise, consider hiring a dog walker to come by while you are at work. Not only will the exercise be enjoyable for the dog, but he or she will have the opportunity for human contact.
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Pet day care centers are one alternative to hiring a dog walker. Pet owners are invited to drop off their animals for the day, and pick them up, again, after work. While day care centers offer pets the chance to socialize, not all dogs benefit from group care. Some animals may become overly competitive or uncomfortable surrounded by so many other pets. Make sure you monitor your pets while they are at day care to see how they cope with the new environment. If your pet is more of a homebody and prefers solitude, hiring a dog walker or someone to stop by and check in on your cat or dog may be a better solution.
Puppies thrive in smaller spaces when they are younger. Pets may feel overwhelmed – if given the run of your entire house. If you have younger dogs, create a small area for them to stay in while you are at work. Make sure you fill the space with everything they need, such as comfortable bedding, toys, food and water. As they get older, you can expand the area. However, this area will always remain their safe space, giving them a place in your house that is just for them.
Try to refrain from making large displays of affection when you leave in the morning. Similarly, do not make a fuss when you return home. Although this may seem hard at first, making these moments less important to your puppy will help him or her adjust better to your absence. Barking can be an issue when dogs are left alone for longer periods of time. However, if you teach your puppy both the “speak” and “quiet” commands early on, he or she will soon learn to stay quiet when you are gone. Give the “speak” command while you are with your dog and give the “quiet” command when you leave. Try to incorporate the quiet command into your morning routine just before you exit. If you hear the dog bark once you leave, reenter the home and give the quiet command, again.
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