So, You Adopted a Dog During Shelter-in-Place…
Bringing home a new dog is SO exciting, especially during the current COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place order when a lot of us are working from home and have more time to spend with our new furry family members! But spending TOO much time with your new housemate may lead to issues when life resumes to normal and we will need to spend time away from our pets daily.
It is important to leave your new dog alone for short periods of time throughout the Shelter-in-Place. It’s true that spending extra time with your new dog can make the transition to a new home easier, but it is equally important to teach them that being alone is a normal part of everyday life. (Note that this is also pertinent to any pet who is currently enjoying the luxury of having you home all the time – your pet will eventually need to adjust back to life where they will have to spend some time home alone).
Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone
- Make frequent, short departures – There has been a lot of change for your new dog recently and that can be very stressful! It may take a few days or a few weeks for your dog to adjust to life at home. The first time you leave put your dog in a safe area, like a crate or puppy-proofed kitchen, and go out to get the mail or walk around the block. Gradually increase the amount of time your dog is left alone.
- Give her a place of her own – Too much space can be trouble for a dog that is nervous about being in a new place and doesn’t yet know the rules. A stressed or nervous dog may be more likely to chew inappropriate items. Provide your dog with a comfortable bed and lots of fun interactive toys!
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! A tired dog is a well behaved dog.
- Give her something to do while you are gone – Fill a kong or sterilized bone with peanut butter, canned food and other delicious treats. Kongs are like a crossword puzzle for dogs! Local pet stores or online shops (Pet Food Express, Petco, Amazon, etc.) are great places to find a variety of interactive dog toys. Provide your dog with something to focus on other than your absence.
- Make your departures something to look forward to – Whenever you leave the house give your dog a treat! Teach your dog that your departure does not signify the end of all things good but instead that they will receive a kong, biscuit hunt, or interactive food toy.
- Make your exits and entrances low-key – Say a consistent phrase every time you leave, and depart quickly. When you return, attend to other tasks before greeting your dogs. Hang up your keys, put away your coat, and then greet your dogs only after they are calm. If your arrival is like a carnival she may anxiously await it all day!
- For a dog who becomes anxious when left home alone, try to prevent her from watching your entrances and exits (i.e. restrict her to one room or a crate where she cannot see you leave), and remember to give her a distraction (like a delicious stuffed kong) as you prepare to leave.
It is also a GREAT time to crate train your dogs while we have some time on our hands and can focus on really making the crate a happy place for your dog! Find some helpful information on crate training here.
While we are home with our pets it is also important to keep them physically and mentally stimulated! If you think quarantine is boring, welcome to the daily life of a pet! This is a great time to teach your dog new tricks and/or games and to carry on the routine even after we go back to our “normal” lives. Find some fun indoor activities for your pups here.
You can also review our other dog resources here.