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9 Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy While You're Away

And it starts with how you say goodbye.

Photography by: Johnny Miller

Whether we're away at work or running a few errands, dogs miss us when we leave them behind at home. Here are nine tips to keep your pooch happy until you return!


Dogs are pack animals and, as their owner, you become leader of the pack. When you leave, it can be stressful for your dog, especially if they are an only pet. Separation anxiety is common in dogs, but by following these tips, you can keep them happy and occupied while you're gone.


1. Exercise Them First


Before you go out, take your dog for a quick walk, run or spin around the backyard just to tucker them out a bit. This will help induce calm before you leave and hopefully get them to sleep while you're gone.


2. Don't Say Goodbye 


It may sound counterintuitive, but Dr. Lori Pasternak, Co-Founder of Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care of Richmond, VA, says, "Not making a big show of you coming and leaving is important. Ignore your dog when you enter and exit your home. The bigger deal you make of saying hello and goodbye, the higher the anxiety becomes for your dog when you leave."


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3. Leave Behind Your Scent  


Whether it's a blanket, T-shirt, or sweatshirt to cuddle with while you're gone, your dog knows your scent and having one of your personal items helps them to feel calm Dr. Pasternak says.


4. Offer the Option of a Crate


Dr. Pasternak says, "Providing a crate, left open or closed can simulate the 'den' environment that is instinctual for them." Some dogs are crate trained and that can be part of the routine when you leave but just having one available with the door open gives them the opportunity to choose.


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5. Play with Interactive Toys 


Dogs love stimulation and some toys like the iFetch will provide endless opportunities to play. The toy uses gravity and launches small balls either into the air or on the ground to keep your dog occupied. Make sure you have the right kind of space for this. Other suggestions are puzzle toys which require more interaction. Check out your local pet store for idea. Dr. Pasternak says, "Using a chew toy that provides some sort of treat such as a Kong filled with peanut butter (xylitol free) or any of the treat delivering toys available helps keeps dogs happy."


6. Leave on the TV or Talk Radio


Having some background noise can help your dog not feel alone at home. Tuning the radio to a calm talk station is something some dogs like and there are dogs who actually like to watch TV! Tune into Animal Planet and there's even a cable station called Dog TV meant only for dogs. Check your cable listings.


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7. Play Soothing Music or White Noise


Some dogs don't like overstimulation coupled with your absence. These dogs might appreciate a white noise machine that provides a calm, soothing sound like ocean waves. You can also play soothing music on the radio or a classical radio station.


8. Leave Water and a Comfy Bed


Even if you're only gone for a half hour, making sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water will ensure they will stay well hydrated. Also make sure your dog has a comfy place to sleep like a dog bed or couch. This gives them creature comforts to keep them happy.


In this video, we show you how to clean and prepare a comfy dog bed: