Home alone… DOs & Don’ts

All pet parents face the issue of leaving their pet alone at home – sometimes for a shorter duration and sometimes for a longer one. Here’s how to make home alone a pleasurable time for your pooch.

Leaving your pet home alone leaves the pet parent with a series of ‘Oh-I-Am-Not-Comfortable-About’ pet peeves. One, being the emotional guilt of keeping the doggie alone with no one to give him company while he’s probably feeling scared or insecure. Two, the thought that after a long hard day at work, you might return to a littered house owing to the fury of your furry mate, a house that awaits strenuous corrective work. Three, your stay in your neighbourhood might be threatened, thanks to neighbours’ cribbing about your dog barking incessantly in your regular absences. What should and should not be done to keep everyone happy and content?

Dr Aradhana Pandey

Dr Aradhana Pandey

Separation anxiety…
Pet dogs when left alone commonly tend to display ‘separation anxiety’ which literally refers to ‘anxiety in dogs when they are separated from their pet parents or environment’. Scientifically, it leads to the secretion of stress hormones leading to hyper excitability which is followed by stress and immunosuppression. Dr Aradhana Pandey, pet parent & canine specialist at Doggy World, sheds light about its manifestations, “Initially the dogs become hyperactive and indulge in barking, biting, running around, damaging and throwing objects.  The longer duration of separation leads to dullness, sadness, refusing food and becoming sick.” But, she says, dogs can be trained to deal with it, let’s see how.
Training them for the ‘wait’
Dogs can be trained and gradually conditioned to be at home without feeling stressed out. “Train the dogs by leaving them alone for short durations and gradually increase the time duration.  Try to leave the dog in a familiar and comfortable environment.  Make arrangements for an attendant who can speak and play with him. The dog’s regular routine of feeding and walks should be followed. Love and pat the dog when you are back. Offer him some treats and take him for walk and play,” says Dr Aradhana.
When left for short durations…
Leaving pet dogs alone at home, even for a short duration may not be as harmless as it seems like, if certain precautions are not followed. The emotional well being aside, the pet’s physical well being may also be threatened. It may cause hyper excitability that may lead to increased heart rate, respiration rate, rise of body temperature, etc.  In severe cases, it can even result in cardiac arrest. Your canine pals might injure themselves or ingest toxic and dangerous objects. However, with suitable remedial measures, these hazardous occurrences may be avoided. And most of these measures revolve around controlling the environment the doggy has been placed in.
Tips to follow

  • Leave the dog in familiar environment (where he normally lives).
  • Provide him with some toys to play.
  • A Kong filled with his favourite treats works well.
  • Give him some chewable treats (artificial bone, etc.) that he likes.
  • Make drinking water available at all times.
  • Take care of room temperature. It should not be too hot or cold.
  • Keep away toxic and hazardous objects.
  • Take care of electric wirings.
  • Keep the radio on.

When left for long duration like a vacation…
When you wave a temporary ‘goodbye’ to your pet, while going for a long break, a series of concerns from the pet’s diet to a possibility of depression onset in the pet may trouble you. You may either choose to leave your pet dog in the company of known people at home or at a relative’s (whom the dog is accustomed to) or even leave him under ‘professional care’ at a pet boarding organisation. Whatever be the chosen option, certain things to be followed would be the same. Says Dr Aradhana, “Leaving the pet for a longer duration leads to separation stress, loss of health condition, immunosuppression and diseases.”
Some important DOs

  • He should be kept in a familiar place and his routine of feeding, walking and playing should be strictly followed.
  • The person in charge should pat and love him.
  • Talking to the dog makes him stress free hence often talk to the dog and remain in his company.
  • No drug therapy is recommended,however, if necessary small dose ofsedatives can be given.

Some important DON’Ts

  • Never keep dog in hot environment as this may lead to heat stress that can be fatal.
  • No toxic and dangerous objects should be in the vicinity of dogs.
  • Don’t chain the dogs as it can at times lead to choking.
  • Don’t keep the dogs in balcony, roof top from where he can jump and injure himself.

Also, once you are back, do not forget to pet him and praise him for being good boy…that too home alone!
(With inputs from Dr Aradhana Pandey, Doggy World, New Delhi).

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