Dogs are man’s best friend, evolved to be our partners in crime and protectors over hundreds of years. So it only makes sense that they feel a little uneasy when their humans leave for hours during the day. This instance has become known as the latchkey dogs: clingy, attached, and sometimes destructive or disobedient due to loneliness, anxiety and boredom. Luckily there are ways to overcome the latchkey dog phenomena and make peace with your dog even in your absence. Check out these ways to keep Fido happy at home, from mild to even the more serious cases.
Puzzle Toys with treats hidden inside are a great way to keep more active pets engaged and less focused on your absence, and eventually they learn that they get treats and toys when you leave- Pavlov, much?
By giving your pup a peanut butter filled treat to work on while you run errands, your pup stays busy and satiated and less likely to get into trouble.
Appeal to Their Sense of Smell
Dogs sense of smell is essentially their love language. You can use this to your advantage to help keep them calm and ease the separation anxiety by leaving worn clothing or a blanket that smells like you in their bed or crate. By creating this atmosphere, you or a family members scent can help keep your dog calm.
Set the stage of your return with simple, small greetings and without building up a lot of energy. Dogs will follow your energy queues, so keeping a low voice and a small greeting or even ignoring your dog for a few minutes when you walk in the door will minimize the energy shifts and effect of your coming and going.
Plenty of Exercise
One of the hardest balances to keep in check for working or busy dog owners is their exercise level. A dog without enough daily exercise is a recipe for destruction. By keeping your dog active and giving them a daily outlet for exercise you can keep their energy at bay during the “downtime”. Ensure your dog gets a proper amount of outside play and/or walking time to explore and spend quality time with you.
When it comes to dogs, obedience leads to more obedience. Brushing up on the simple commands, like sit and stay, builds a strong foundation for a well-behaved dog to continue building skills. For more serious anxiety cases, you can start by teaching “stay” and using positive reinforcement to create longer and longer periods of time where you command your dog to “stay” in a different room or outside away from you for up to 10-15 minutes. By doing this, your teaching the behavior and building trust that you are coming back and thereby reducing your dog’s anxiety and giving him a job he knows will be rewarded.
By implementing these easy routines you can calm down your dog’s anxiety and build a stronger bond and more secure pet.