How to keep your dog happy when you’re at work19 October 2022
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 14 June 2023
We all have to go out sometimes, whether it’s for work, or to get the shopping in, and unfortunately our pups can’t always come with us. So how do you make sure your pup is as happy as they can be when you go out?
48% of dogs in the UK were left between 1-4 hours on a daily basis when research was done back in 2013. And a further 25% of dogs were left 5 or more hours on a daily basis.
Overview of the article
- Make sure they are comfortable by themselves
- Teach them how to entertain themselves
- Make sure their needs are met
- Provide a comfy, safe place for your dog to relax
- Safety First
- Give your pooch plenty of exercise
- Play with them before you head out
- Find a local borrower to help you out!
1. Make sure they are comfortable by themselves
So, some dogs are not good at being alone. Especially post lockdowns, as a lot of pooches are now used to having their pawrents on call 24/7. So how do we manage a dog that just doesn’t like being on their own?
Well firstly, you can take a look at some of our ideas on managing separation issues, to try and help your dog to be more settled when you’re not there. Although this has a few ideas to try, some dogs will also need assistance with their separation issues from a vet and/or a qualified canine behaviourist. Remember that separation issues in dogs are super common, so don’t be afraid to ask for some help!
2. Teach them how to entertain themselves
When you’re home with your pup, it’s great to give them enrichment toys and games that they can have fun with on their own. This can teach our pups how to entertain themselves, and encourages a bit of independence too!
If you're looking for ways to keep your dog intellectually stimulated, then why not try a puzzle feeder toy. This kind of toy works by challenging your dog's mental abilities and provoking their curiosity. It does this by combining fun and challenge in the form of food puzzles, where your dog has to figure out how to get a treat or meal out of an unusual object. Whether it's hiding pieces of kibble behind a door, or threading treats through tight openings, these puzzle feeders provide hours of fun and stimulation for your pup.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home have also created a DIY brain game activity sheet for you and your pup, so check it out!
3. Make sure their needs are met
Before you go out, always make sure your dog has had a toilet trip. It’s a super simple tip, but if you forget, you could come home to a distressed dog, a mess on the carpet, or maybe even both!
While you’re away it’s also really important that your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times, so when they’re thirsty they don’t have to wait for you to come home to have a good drink. Dogs left without water might go investigating other water sources, and no-one wants their precious pooch drinking out of the toilet bowl!
4. Provide a comfy, safe place for your dog to relax
Make sure your dog has somewhere super comfy to chill out while you’re away. There are loads of pawsome dog beds on the market for your dog to enjoy. Once they know you’re out though, and even with the comfiest bed, we do know a few dogs love a cheeky sneak up on a bed or sofa. If you don’t want your pooch to snooze there, be sure to close the doors!
So they can relax a bit more, some dogs also like a radio on low so that they can hear some familiar sounds while cuddled up in bed.
5. Safety First
It’s really important when you’re heading out, to make sure your dog can’t get access to anything that could be potentially dangerous. This can be anything from chocolate bars to plants, from socks to medications. A lot of dogs are not fussy, and will happily swallow anything, so make sure everything that could harm your dog is out of reach. And if you have a smart dog, hide it even better and higher, as these super intelligent pooches will often be very inventive when they’re trying to check out that nice smelling box of colourful treats you got for your birthday, that you seem to have forgotten to share with them!
If you get home and think your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t be sure to contact your vet for advice.
6. Give your pooch plenty of exercise
Let’s get physical! Physical activity is super impawtent in making sure your dog is healthy and happy. Whether it's running, playing, or going for walks, our pooches need regular exercise in order to stay fit and healthy, so owners should make time every day to take their pup out for a walk. Some dogs are happy with one main walk (as well as other toilet breaks!), but a lot of dogs need multiple walks, of a decent length, every day. It’s a balance though, as puppies for example often don’t need as much exercise. If you’re unsure, and have a young dog or a dog with a health issue, your vet can advise on how much exercise your dog needs.
Going for walks isn’t just about exercise, your dog can enjoy the mental stimulation of all the sniffs and the friends they meet, helping to settle an active mind. Having your dog tired both mentally as well as physically can really help them to relax on their own.
Regular walking could mean setting aside a bit of time every morning or evening, or it could mean taking small breaks throughout the day whenever possible. No matter how you choose to do it, making sure your dog gets regular exercise will support their health and fitness. So put on your trainers and grab your lead - it's time to go for a walk!
7. Play with them before you head out
Whether it's chasing balls or splashing in the dog pool, this kind of fun activity with your best four-legged friend has many benefits for both you and your pup. So grab their favourite squeaky toy and get those tails wagging! Whatever way you choose to flex those doggy muscles, just make sure that they get plenty of playtime before you head out.
8. Find a local borrower to help you out!
Asking your boss to commute back and forth to check in on your pup multiple times a day might not go down so well. So why not find a local dog lover who volunteers their time to help with your lovely pooch instead? That way you don’t need to worry about your dog feeling lonely and they’ll often get an extra workout as well!
I joined BorrowMyDoggy to provide enrichment for our 2 dogs. Nala found a wonderful borrower early on in our journey and Tula found a perfect match with a local couple who absolutely adore her and have the experience to manage her too. It was very reassuring to know I had people I could trust to step in and take care of our dogs. There are many dog lovers out there who are unable to have a dog full time and it’s wonderful that they can be matched with dogs and owners who can benefit in many ways from the right match.
Nala and Tula's owner, Kerry from Leicester
I joined BorrowMyDoggy as I was struggling to walk Pippin as much as she was used to and working full time; I was considering re-homing her because of the stress and guilt it was causing me! So when I heard of BorrowMyDoggy I thought I would give it a go and it has been a godsend! Within a few days I had received a message from a retired lady and we arranged to meet up and go on a walk together first of all, we soon made arrangements for her to walk Pippin and keep her company while I was out at work. I was later contacted by another family who have recently lost their dog and they too have now also begun walking Pippin regularly, and she goes to their house to play. I know that Pippin is happy sharing her love and cuddles with more than just me. Thank you BorrowMyDoggy ❤️
Pippin's owner, Karen from Cardiff
Frequently asked questions about leaving your dog at home
Is it OK to leave my dog at home while I work?
There isn’t a simple answer for this one. It depends on how long you are out for, and how long your dog can manage being alone. We would not recommend a dog be left alone for a standard full-time work day though as it tends to be too long. So if you can’t do it yourself, having someone that can stay with your pooch for the day or someone who can come in at least once halfway through the day to give them some entertainment, a walk, and a chance to do their toilets, works for a lot of dogs.
48% of dogs in the UK were left between 1-4 hours on a daily basis according to a 2013 research report. And a further 25% of dogs were left 5 or more hours on a daily basis.
How long can your dog stay alone without getting bored?
Some dogs can get bored easily, as they are highly intelligent and require lots of stimulation and attention. Bored dogs can sometimes also find other, more destructive ways to entertain themselves, so be sure to have them tired and happy when you head out, and then they can enjoy some nice down time till you’re back or your borrower pops in for more playtime!
Leaving your dog home alone can be a worry, but most dogs, and some others after the right work and support, should be happy to entertain themselves, or have a good snooze while you pop out for a short while. And if you're looking for extra help, why not sign up to BorrowMyDoggy. With just a few clicks, you can meet local dog lovers who would love to take care of your pup while you're away. Plus, it's free to register and have a look around so why not give it a try today!
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