An incredible 76 percent of American pet owners feel guilty over leaving dogs alone, according to a recent American Animal Hospitals Association report. Not only that, the report also suggests that employees can be too worried about their dog home alone to fully focus on the job, which is not great for business.
In some offices the solution has been to allow dogs to commute to work alongside their owners and the report goes on to say that these employees put out peak performance with pets by their side. Sadly, as attractive as that option may sound, very few office workers are likely to be given that privilege; while for many others it simply wouldn’t be practical.
Is Leaving Dogs Alone Wrong?
Most of us adore our dogs, so it’s easy to understand why we wouldn’t want to leave them home alone, but all that guilt suggests something more than just missing them. Guilt comes from feeling like we’re doing something wrong, so do most dog owners fundamentally feel that it is wrong to leave a dog alone? And are we assuming that our dogs are not happy when we can’t be with them?
Dogs are pack animals and instinctively understand that they are safer when they are with the rest of the pack, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spend some time alone without getting stressed or anxious.
Problems Caused by Dog Separation Anxiety
Some dog owners have no problems leaving dogs alone for quite lengthy periods of time and report that they return home to happy and relaxed dogs, while others struggle to leave their dogs for even 10 minutes because their pooch suffers with dog separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety in dogs causes all sorts of behaviour problems from barking and whining non-stop, to chewing everything they can get their teeth around, or pooping and urinating in the house. Some dogs can become very destructive when anxious and their obvious distress can be heart-wrenching when it’s time to leave.
The Best Way to Approach Leaving Dogs Alone
If you’re going to be away all day, make sure you’ve provided for your dog’s basic needs by giving them access to water and to the outside so they can relieve themselves if necessary. Arrange for neighbours, family or a friend to come in half way through the day to let them outside if possible.
If you’re worried about what your dog is going to do all day, it’s worth remembering that a dog can spend as much as 18 hours per day sleeping. Many dog owners will also leave toys that make their dogs work to get to the treats inside it and can keep them absorbed for long periods of time.
The best way to leave your dog and to return is to not make a big fuss about it. Pay them little or no attention in the time leading up to your departure and when you return pay them no attention until they relax and leave you alone. This gives them the message that there is nothing significant about your comings and goings and therefore nothing for them to worry about.
How to Get Rid of Dog Separation Anxiety
If your dog is already suffering with separation anxiety, you will need a good dog anxiety training programme and a bit of patience to get rid of it completely. Often pack leadership is the issue with an anxious dog and you will need to make sure your dog knows that you are pack leader and that they can trust you before they will relax.
Leaving dogs alone is a personal choice and if you do it the right way and know that they are happy and relaxed when you are gone, there is no need to feel guilty.