5 Ways to Beat the Lonely Dog Blues
Your kids may not be the only ones sad to see summer end, the dog might be sad too.
Karen Asp |
Posted: September 4, 2014, 8 a.m. PST
As back-to-school time means a new schedule and less quality time together, some dogs struggle, especially dogs who are suddenly alone, most of the day.
"About four out of 10 dogs experience a fair — or even an extreme — degree of misery when left alone,” says Roger Mugford, Ph.D., animal psychologist and founder of The Company of Animals, a pet product company based in the U.K.
Yet with a little planning — and extra care given to your dog’s needs — this transition can be less traumatic, and dare it be said, even fun. Play up that fun angle with these strategies:
- Place engaging items around the house. Make your dog’s time in the house, especially when alone, a source of pleasure and discovery, and you’ll not only help decrease any separation anxiety, you’ll also make that alone time more enjoyable, Mugford says. Consider leaving food-dispensing games and other engaging toys around the house. For example, you can stuff treats in hollow chew toys or freeze food in interactive dog feeders, which can occupy your dog for hours.
- Give your pup an iPod. OK, not really, but you can play music or even flip on the TV while you’re gone. "Dogs love the routine of media and music,” Mugford says. Research shows that unlike hard rock or talk radio, classical or orchestral music can soothe dogs, and having a TV on will create an atmosphere of normalcy, he notes.
- Leave a scent. Rub your scent — or your kids’ scents — on your dog’s toys, or let your pup cozy up with clothing her favorite human has worn. "Some dogs form very powerful attachments to the chemistry of human contact,” Mugford says. Your scent can help ease your dog’s anxiety, and can also make your dog feel more loved during this transitional time, especially when the house is empty.
- Schedule quality time. Once the school year starts, schedules can get so busy that it’s often tough to give your dog much attention. Yet there are always ways to sneak in pockets of fun time. Some ideas? Walk your dog to the bus stop every morning, or if you drive your kids to school, take your dog with you. Or create a new habit of walking together as a family — four-legged members included — every night.
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