Latchkey Dogs- Lonely dog symptoms & solutions

Leaving the Dog Home Alone Pt II

In our last post about leaving the dog home alone, we saw although a well-trained and cared for dog can be trusted in the house or yard by himself, that doesn’t mean he will like it. Most likely she will be bored, and boredom can often result in  undesirable behavior.

Ways to Avoid Boredom

One way to relieve boredom is to have more than one dog (sometimes a feline companion works, also). This is not a practical solution for everyone, and one that should not be decided on lightly.

Another way to solve the problem is with toys – lots of toys. The Kong toy is very popular as a tool to keep dogs busy. They have hollow centers perfect for holding treats.

The recommended way to use these toys is to fill the bottom 1/3 of the Kong with your dog’s favorite treat, something really irresistible.  Fill the rest with his regular kibble or other dry treat, mixed with peanut butter or cheese as “cement”. Top it off with an easily retrievable treat for an immediate reward.

The idea is that the dog will spend hours (or at least many minutes) gnawing on the toy trying to get at the goodies on the bottom.

Will Work for Treats

There are also treat-dispensing toys made for the same purpose. They dispense kibble or kibble-sized dry treats, a few at a time, as the dog pushes the toy around.

There are a number of these toys on the market now. You can find balls, cubes and other shapes, hard toys or soft toys.

The only drawback to these toys is that sometimes the dog gets it under or behind a piece of furniture, which can result in frustration or knocked-over lamps!

Using multiple toys hidden wherever the dog might wander helps prolong the fun. You can even feed the dog’s entire day’s ration using this method.

Other Toys OK, too

Other good items are squeaky toys and hard chew toys, such as Nylabones. Avoid any chew that would allow the dog to break off and swallow large pieces, such as bones or rawhide. Save these for when someone is around to supervise.

Outside Considerations

Dogs left outside in a fenced yard may also get bored. This often results in “fence running” and barking. A solid fence can go a long way towards alleviating this problem. Sort of an “out of sight, out of mind” thing.

Some dogs will bark regardless of what type of fence you have. Training and desensitization can solve that problem.

Be sure to provide adequate shelter from rain or sun, and plenty of clean water.

If your dog likes to dig, consider creating a place where he can safely do just that. A deep sandbox will do the trick.

Food toys can be used outside as well, but they will probably attract ants, and possibly other animals, so use with caution.

Unchain The Dog!

Never leave your dog tied up outside. Dogs left chained up, even for a short time are in danger of choking or hanging themselves.

They can get tangled up so that they are unable to reach their shelter or water.

Leaving a dog tied up can lead to incessant barking and aggression.

If a dog is left chained up all day, every day, he may eventually become depressed or exhibit neurotic behaviors.  He is at the mercy of other animals, biting insects and insensitive people who may tease or torment him.

A dog that is tethered is also a danger to people, especially children. Since the dog cannot run, if he feels threatened his only option is to fight.

If  your reason for getting a dog is  for security, understand that tying him up will not make him a good watchdog. Most dogs will instinctively protect their “territory”. If the dog is tied up, his territory becomes the 8-foot or so radius that he lives in.

If the dog is allowed inside with the family, his territory is the house and yard, and his “pack” is the family, both of which he will then be happy to protect.

Quality Time

Give your dog plenty of play-time and attention when you are home. Strenuous exercise (according to your dog’s physical condition) will help use up the dogs pent-up energy, leaving less energy for destruction. A walk in the morning usually leads to a contented nap, and with toys waiting, a contented home-alone dog.

You may also like to read: Leaving the Dog Home Alone!!

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