I recently got an email from a client asking about the best way to keep their puppy out of trouble while they are at work. He was concerned about leaving the puppy in a crate while he was at work. Unfortunately, the puppy would get into trouble if left alone and was not completely house trained. He wanted to leave the puppy outside while they were at work.
For me there are many concerning topics in this concern. One of these concerns is safety. Puppies and many adult dogs can get into trouble if left alone. They can eat socks and underwear lying around, de-fluff pillows and eat food that isn’t theirs. They can eat toxic foods or chemicals, which can make them very sick or they could eat something that causes an intestinal blockage.
Another concern is house training. Many dogs given free reign of the house can also have accidents in the house, which leaves a mess for you to clean up and also can backtrack your dog with house training.
So, what if we leave the dog outside? I do not recommend keeping dogs outside especially during the hot weather! Dogs cannot sweat and can overheat quickly, which can kill them. Well, what if I leave the dog water? Well, they can accidentally knock the water over. Also, water may not be enough to keep your pet cool! So they will still be in danger of heat stroke.
Well, what about the cooler months? There is always the risk of your dog escaping your back yard. Dogs are pretty athletic. I have seen a 45 pound dog jump over a 6 foot privacy fence. Never say never! Dogs and strangers can also come into your yard and causing harm to your pet. Another client of mine had her dog in the backyard during the day and a dog jumped over her 5 foot cement wall fence and mated with her dog! Again, all things are possible.
Besides safety concerns, dogs left unattended in yards can get bored and bark or dig. And if you are anything like most of my clients, these behaviors are considered undesirableJ. And if the opportunity is present for the dog, these behaviors will get worse.
So… if I shouldn’t do those things… what do we do with our pets?
I know this is a common concern for pet owners. How do we keep them out of trouble? How do we keep them busy? We worry about our pets when we are gone. They can miss us, be destructive around the house or eat something they shouldn’t. So, how do we make sure they are safe and comfortable?
The best way to ensure their safety is to crate train your dog. Dogs learn to love their crates. Crates keep them out of trouble, prevent home destruction, and promote sleeping. Be sure to get your dog out in the morning. You can enjoy a nice walk or some play time. This physical exercise will help tire them out so it is easier for them to settle and sleep while you are away.
To promote the crate as being a great place, keep your dog busy, and ease anxiety of your departure, you can offer a frozen Kong when you put your dog in the crate. See our other post about Kongs to learn how you can stuff them for your pup! If you dog is noise sensitive you can download Through a Dogs Ear from Amazon, it is music that is researched to calm dogs down. The sound of it will not only be calming to your dog but will also drown out any other stressful noises outside like construction, storms, or noisy neighbors.
I do this with my dogs at home and they do great. I get the dogs in the morning and do training, games, or walks. When I am ready to leave the house I grab two Kongs from the freezer and my dogs run to their crate! They love it! And when I come home, they don’t even realize, they are relaxed and snoozing away! If there is construction going on nearby I set my laptop to play Through A Dog’s Ear for them. Knowing they are safe, happy, and relaxed while I am away gives me peace of mind.