Dog owners everywhere know the bittersweet feeling of petting that precious pup on your way out the door when you have a busy workday ahead or you’re excited to try a new restaurant with friends. No matter the circumstances, it inevitably involves leaving your dog home alone. They might even cry or whine when you pick up your keys, making it extra hard to say goodbye (cue the puppy dog eyes).
Pre-pandemic, discussions around pets being left alone weren't the norm. It’s a given that our fur babies deserve quality care and attention, but as our schedules adjust for return-to-office mandates and increased social gatherings, dogs are having to stay behind more and more; for some of them, especially those who were pandemic adoptions, it’s a total shock to the system. Separation anxiety is at an all-time high and dog owners want proven solutions to curb that stress response, for their pups and themselves.
There are strategies to lessen the burden of this separation. Even if your dog doesn't show visible signs of anxiety alone at home, their emotional, experiential, and bathroom needs should still be a priority. Whether you’ve got a young puppy learning to be alone or an older dog relearning it, we can help.
Separation Anxiety, Defined
Sheltering in place during the pandemic brought a lot of people and their pets closer together, both physically and emotionally. The transition out of this state has been understandably difficult, bordering on traumatic. A 2021 survey on thousands of American dog owners found that 76% of respondents have dogs with separation anxiety, along with 47% of their owners.
In dogs, this phenomenon is characterized by panting, barking, pacing, behaving destructively (chewing or scratching furniture or flooring), and emptying their bladder or bowels indoors, regardless of training. And for their human paw-rents, separation anxiety looks like an over-eagerness to go home, constant check-ins with remote cameras or dog-sitters, and canceling plans or abstaining from them completely to avoid leaving their dog.
In other words, normal dog moms and dads things!
Getting a handle on the situation takes planning, routines, and a few psychology tricks to take the edge off. Throw in a little patience and dedication to training, and separation anxiety can become a problem of the past.
Ways to Ease the Separation
A temporary trip away from home could cause serious panic for a pup who’s typically your shadow. Prolonged isolation is unhealthy for anyone, dogs included. Remember to be mindful of how long they’re left alone each day—according to the AKC, that average threshold is 6-8 hours (needs vary based on age, size, breed, environment, etc.).
40-hour workweeks must be as hellish for our pooches as they are for us. Perhaps you’re not actually gone very often, but when you are, your dog’s coping reserves are being steadily depleted. Whatever the case, here are our favorite tips to make leaving your dog home alone easier.
It’s All About Activity
A tired dog is a happy dog, and one of the best solutions is as ancient as domesticated dogs themselves: when in doubt, walk it out. Since many dogs have a strong drive for physical activity, high energy levels might exacerbate anxiety. Pencil in playtime or a quick jog prior to leaving them for extended periods. If you have a super social pup, visiting the dog park is a fun alternative. Doggy daycare, though expensive, also functions as a good social outlet and maintains that active lifestyle.
Of course, this is all highly individual, and you know your dog best! Think about what they like to do and plan your separation routine around them.
Mental Stimulation Matters
Our pups are more mentally agile than we realize, as evidenced by their not so “good boy!” moments (if you have an escape artist, fence hopper, or hole digger, you get it). This kind of acting out stems from an inability to expend mental energy, which is equally as important to exercise as their bodies.
Keeping dogs entertained lowers the chances of them feeling your absence. Treat puzzles or dispensers, challenging toys or chews, and a good old fashioned game of fetch in the park can make a big difference for mentally curious pups.
Keep Calm, Carry On
The idea of calming our dogs has had a major hold on pet parents in recent years. CBD supplements, oils, and treats have flooded the market, along with calming sprays or scented toys to relax anxious animals. Just be sure to verify the ingredients and purity before giving CBD products to your pup.
Both dog and cat owners now leave music or the TV on to avoid creating an unnervingly quiet setting in which a lonely puppy may feel compelled to bark or whimper. Veterinarians can prescribe medication if your dog’s anxiety is particularly bad, so consult with your vet if this sounds like it could be a good fit.
Connect with a Trainer
Dog trainers can be immensely helpful with anxiety, because they are professionals who understand aspects of your dog’s psychology most of us would never imagine. They are able provide insights into your dog’s behavior, as well as identify things you’re doing inadvertently that may be contributing to the stress (the fact is, dogs often don’t think like us!). Training also helps you create structure and assists in teaching your pet the skills necessary to be on their own in the house. Habits as simple as a treat routine before leaving can transform all that fear into a positive experience.
A trainer is specifically beneficial for dogs who are displaying detrimental behavior, such as aggression or severe property damage. For instance, if you hire a dog walker to satisfy your pup’s desire for physical activity but Fido won’t stop growling or nipping when they walk in the door, a trainer has the expertise to facilitate a smoother introduction for you.
Gift Your Pup a City Loo
Potty access is a concern for lots of pet owners, most notably when you have to leave them at home. There’s nothing worse than wondering if your dog is frantically holding it, and nobody wants to come home to a ruined rug!
For peace of mind, the City Loo luxury dog litter box gives both you and your best friend the freedom to take care of business without stressful timelines and schedules. A City Loo is clean, comfortable, and easy to access, and it eliminates the pressure of a ticking clock that’s unhealthy for them and unsanitary for you. And the best part? Its stylish design can fit discreetly into any decor so it can be a secret for just the two of you.
Take Your Leave with Pride
The City Loo does more than add sophistication and flair to every household—it also serves your pup’s bathroom needs and takes care of them even when you’re not home. We all love our dogs beyond measure, but for the times you can’t be there to let them out or take that habitual potty break walk, a City Loo gives them a safe and clean place to go. No fuss, no mess.
Try these tips with your dog and get your City Loo today to see how effortless leaving your dog home alone can truly be!