Make sure your dog feels happy and safe when you’re out by:
Activity toys can keep your dog busy while you’re out (see products panel). These come in various shapes and sizes but the general principle is that you stuff them with food treats; the dog then has to work to get these out, either by rolling the toy around the floor or licking or chewing at the inside. Alternatively, organize a game of hide-and-seek by stashing treats in nooks and crannies around the house. Your dog can hunt for them while you’re out.
Keep all your arrivals and departures low-key and ignore any excitable behaviour from your dog at these times. If you make a fuss of him before leaving, or when you return, it will make the contrast of your absence more unbearable. If your dog jumps up and is excitable when you come in, try greeting other members of the family and making a cuppa before saying hello to him. Similarly, don’t try to make up for your absence by making a huge fuss of your dog when you are at home, as this will also lead him to rely on you more heavily. Make sure he has periods of isolation even when you are in the house and don’t always give in to his demands for attention.
Just because you have to go out, doesn’t mean your dog needs to be alone. Is there a dog-friendly neighbour who could let him into the garden or take him for a walk? Or a dog-mad, but responsible, teenager who might want to come to play? Maybe you have a friend or relative who would be happy to have your dog for the day?
Younger and older dogs in particular will need to be let out to toilet, as they may not be able to hold on for more than a few hours. Ask for recommendations for pet-sitters if you are really stuck — your veterinary surgery is a good place to try.
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