Our pets give us unconditional love.  They are a soft place to land at the end of the day and will listen to all our hopes, dreams and fears.  But what do we do for them when they are alone or feeling lonely?  A sad dog is not what you want.

All dogs can go through a period of separation anxiety that is triggered when you leave the house for a number of hours or especially when you go to work.  They love being with you and miss you terribly and many times this can either cause your neighbours distress as they bark all day or destroy your furnishings as they look for a way to feel better.sad dogCredit: morguefile.com

Even older dogs, such as mine have gone through these periods.  In our case, it was not going to work but the fact that we moved.  This new neighbourhood had new noises and the furniture was laid out a different way and there were many new things.  So it wasn’t’ just us leaving each day, it was the comfort zone had changed. 

A nervous anxious dog can be destructive to your home and peace of mind.  Depending on the size of your pooch, a lot of damage can happen in those hours away from work.  Here is a list of ideas.  Some may work and others may not.  You know your dog and activity level, so hopefully some ideas will pop out at you as something your pooch would enjoy.  Some are free and others require a monetary investment, but are all worthwhile.  

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1. Interactive Puzzle Toy

This would be perfect for that smart puppy or dog that could spend hours on a toy like this.  You fill the compartments with their favourite treats or a bit of kibble if you don’t like them to have too many treats, and they have to work at getting the yummies out.  This can keep them busy for a long time.  Try it while you are at home to see how fast they make it work.

2. Radio or TV

This works for my older dog Sasha, who had a lot of fears.  We just moved into a subdivision, and she was used to the country, so there were a lot of new noises.  I turned the radio on at a medium level and it seemed to work quite well for her as it muted the outdoor noises of kids playing and cars going by.  The TV is another option as many dogs love to hear the voices rather than music.  Experiment with your pooch to see which works best and try leaving for an hour.

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3. Tire a Wired Dog

If you have a young pet, or a very active one, then you may need to allow an additional 30 minutes in the morning to get your pooch out for a fast paced walk.  This will tire your wired dog and this way when you leave they have burned off some energy.  Burning off that excess energy will keep them calm for a while, and then have an interactive toy for them to play with nearby, and this should save your couch!Sad DogCredit: morguefile.com

Another option is a doggy treadmill.  This is a much bigger investment, but if the weather is horrid or you want them to get some exercise while you are getting ready for work, most dogs love to run on these.  Don’t leave the house with them running on it, but maybe let them have a go at it first thing to tire them out.  Nothing replaces a good walk around the block as it is good for you and your pet, but this would at least give them the exercise to burn off excess energy.

4. Don't Make a Big Deal of Leaving

You are the pack leader, so if you look all worried and sad when you leave, he will become anxious and worried.  So, don’t say “goodbye”, just go about your business of getting ready and give him his interactive toy or puzzles (it might not hurt to have a few of these in each room) and smile while you get your coat on and simply leave.  Try doing this for an hour at a time on the weekend if you can and come back and still don’t make a big deal about being away.  Your dog will come to realize that you do come back.

5. Close Curtains or Blinds

This one worked really well for me, because many people would be walking by on the sidewalk and my Sasha would be on the couch barking at everyone who walked by.  So for me, the radio on, and the curtains shut and lots of toys kept her busy until I returned.

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6. Mid Day Relief - Grass Patch

It would be nice if you could have someone come into your house and take Fido for a walk and a pee, but this is not always possible, so instead of paying for a relief person, you could set up a grass patch.  This is an indoor toilet for your dog.  Perfect for those days you have to work later than usual or get stuck in traffic.  If your dog is house trained to go outside into the yard, then they will quickly learn what to do with this grassy patch that you could leave in the house just for them.

7. Your Soothing Voice

With technology these days pretty much anything is possible.  You could leave a CD or recording going on your tape deck or CD player of your voice, or you could also get a collar that you put on them that has your voice to keep them comforted.  This didn’t work with my dog because she would be looking for the source.  Some dogs love just hearing the sound of your voice.  But it is something to experiment with.

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8. Toys That Talk

You could take your interactive treat ball and take it up a notch with a toy that also talks.  This might intrigue your dog for hours as he plays with it and keeps hearing the voice.  This one is pre-recorded for fun.

9. Put Something in Each Room

Depending on how much of the house you let Fido roam around in when you are at work, you could purchase a few interactive toys, and place them in each room, so that he never runs out of things to do.

This way when you get home from work, he is ready for some special time with you.  Leaving your dog home alone while at work doesn’t have to be an anxiety riddled experience, keep calm, give him lots to do, try to drown out distractions, tire him out first thing, and your home coming will not be the couch cushions shredded or “gifts” on the carpet, but a happy dog ready to hear about your day.