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Home Alone

Your dog’s favorite place? By your side. Unfortunately, there are likely many days when you can’t make that happen. Here’s how to boost your pet’s self-reliance and lessen the separation anxiety—for both of you.

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Photography by: Johnny Miller

Dogs are, by nature, very social creatures. When they’re left to fend for themselves for long periods of time, particularly during the day, “they’re more likely to create their own enrichment,” says Arthur Hazelwood, a certified professional dog trainer and senior director of the ASPCA Adoption Center. This can take the form of incessant barking, destructive chewing, or depression. How to mitigate such behaviors? Follow these tips:

 

Provide morning exercise

“Exercise prior to leaving a dog alone is a good way to set you and your pet up for success,” says Hazelwood. Get your pup panting, preferably off-leash, to tire it out and encourage dozing instead of destroying when you’re not home.

 

Create a cozy corner

Dogs exhibiting signs of separation anxiety may draw comfort from being confined to a small space where they feel safe. Some small dogs enjoy being crated; larger dogs can be kept in a small room, or a larger one that’s been sectioned off with a baby or pet gate. “It’s a good idea, though, to first acclimate your pet to the room or space,” says Hazelwood. Load it with positive associations (providing treats and having playtime there, for example) so your furry friend will, at the very least, tolerate your time apart.

 

Give it something to chew

Chewing can be to dogs what thumb-sucking is to kids: a way to quell mild anxiety, combat boredom, or soothe teething pain. To prevent gnawed-on chair legs and torn blankets in your absence, make sure to leave safe chewables, like a durable dog bone that’s sold specifically for chewing (e.g., Nylabone or Dental by Kong) with your pet. Dogs shouldn’t, however, be left unsupervised with edible chews, like bully sticks or pig ears, as they can choke on them.

 

Schedule a playdate

Most dogs need a midday visitor when left alone all day. So if you’ll be gone for a while, ask a neighbor to check in for a play session, or hire a dog walker for a stroll. Other human contact breaks up your dog’s alone time and promotes a positive experience while you’re away.

Safe and Sound: Tech for Pets

You may not be home with your four-legged pal, but you can still keep an eye on it. Here are a few of the latest tools and trackers that monitor your pet’s movements (and mischief) even when you’re far from home.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

1. Eye Spy

The motion-activated Nest Cam (along with the Nest app for smartphones) allows you to monitor your pet’s activities throughout the day. It also has a microphone and speaker so you can talk to your pet. (“Good boy, Leon!”)

 

$199, nest.com

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

2. See Spot Stay

Petcube is another Web camera that works in sync with your smartphone by letting you watch and interact with your pet while you’re away. It includes a laser-pointer toy (good for entertaining cats) and photo streaming.

 

$199, petcube.com

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

3. Lost and Found

The PetHub tag has an embedded QR code: If your pet goes missing, anyone with a smartphone can scan the tag to see your profile and contact you. For an additional $3 monthly fee, you can receive an immediate text alert.

 

From $10, pethub.com

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