Leaving your hound home alone can be one of the greatest challenges for any dog owner. My small mix Freddy, pictured above, hates being left alone, and stays in a crate because of his tendency to get into garbage. He will whine and bark when I leave; of course, this is a relatively small problem except that I live in a shared space with several other people. By giving him things to do and occupying his mind, he is less bored/anxious and is able to wait calmly in his crate for me to return. As a result, I have developed several tips that I wanted to share so as to help anyone else dealing with a similar problem. I do want to emphasize, however, that the following tips are meant to help you manage your dog’s boredom and slight anxiety when left home alone. If you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety, a much more severe issue, TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL.
Tip #1 – Frozen KONGS
My hound goes insane for peanut butter, and he only gets it when he goes in his crate. As a result, whenever I pick up his Kong, he will run to his crate. I suggest freezing it because it makes it last longer, keeping your dog’s mind off of your absence.
Tip #2 – Music
Another thing I do to help my dog relax and occupy his mind is to play music specifically created to calm dogs. These playlists can be found on iTunes, and are a quick and easy way to create a soothing environment.
Tip #3 – Bark’n Mad App
This app can be found on the App Store, and is a great way to inexpensively and easily monitor your dog’s noise levels when away. I found this very helpful because it allowed me to see how long my dog barked when I was gone, what triggered him barking again, and the anxiety level of his barking. It does, however, require you to leave a device with the app downloaded on it near the dog; I repurposed an old iPhone.
Tip #4 – Pheromone Collar
Pheromones are chemicals given off by the body; for dogs, certain pheromones can cause them to be more relaxed. This is the theory behind pheromone collars, sprays, and diffusers which release pheromones similar to those that a mother dog releases to soothe puppies. I have used pheromone collars, which last about a month, and my dog’s anxiety does seem to have improved. I have heard mixed reports of these, however.
Tip #5 – Get a Dog Walker
Often a dog will act out when home alone simply because he or she has too much energy to rest quietly by themselves. I highly suggest looking into a dog walker if you are away from you dog for long periods of time during the day. It will give your dog a chance to get out of the house and exercise, allowing him or her to then be able to relax quietly until you get home.
Tip #6 – Doggie Daycare
Doggie daycare is similar to getting a dog walker, except that the dog would spend time in a different place and you would have to drop them off and pick them up. Some dogs love doggie daycare and it’s the best option for them, other dogs don’t do well in this type of environment so it’s important that you know your dog and what’s going to make him the happiest.
I of course highly recommend hiring a dog walker for your hound. Most dogs love to go for walks and after all, A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog!