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Tips For Keeping Dogs Busy When They're Alone | Figo Pet Insurance

Tips for keeping dogs busy while home alone

Pet parent guilt and dog separation anxiety are quite real. Dog separation anxiety may manifest if you’re leaving your dog for five minutes or five hours. Your dog can sense when you’re getting ready to leave the house based on routine changes, alerting him that your leaving and his being left home alone are imminent. And if you have a dog with separation anxiety, you understand how frantic she can get and how her anxiety might lead to her destroying your home.

Some Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

1. Constant barking or whining.

2. Chewing or scratching, which may lead to the destruction of shoes, your furniture, doors, window sills and other household items.

3. Abnormal pooping or peeing in the house.

4. Breaking free of the crate, even at the expense of injuring themselves.

5. Obsessive behaviors, such as pacing or overgrooming.

What causes separation anxiety in dogs?

Thus far, there has been no definitive answer as to what causes separation anxiety and why some dogs in a household suffer it and others don’t. Experts believe that a dog will exhibit symptoms when he’s young, and those will worsen as the dog ages.

It’s also believed that separation anxiety can be caused by a past abandonment or trauma. When you adopt a shelter dog who suffers separation anxiety you may never know the reason for his anxiety, but you can work with him to help him feel more comfortable while you’re away.

Easing your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

There are several schools of thought to help a dog with separation anxiety and they include:

There are several schools of thought to help a dog with separation anxiety and they include:

1. Leave him home alone for short periods. Extend the time home alone until he is comfortable with your being gone.

2. Hire a pet sitter to come and stay with him while you’re away. This could be an expensive option, but may be necessary.

3. Don’t make a big deal of your leaving. If you hug and kiss and “baby talk” to your dog before you walk out the door because you’re nervous about leaving her alone, she will pick up on that as your leaving behavior and become anxious. Also, when you arrive back home, resist the urge to make it a big deal.

4. Consider another pet, so your dog isn’t home alone. This is only a good idea if you have the time and money to spend on caring for another pet in your household. Keep in mind, this may not work. Your first, anxious dog, may transfer her anxiety to the new dog and you will be faced with two dogs with separation anxiety.

5. Change your routine. If you always grab your coffee, then your keys then walk out the door. Do some items in reverse. Feed your dog before you leave rather than when you get up in the morning. Take him for a walk.

Don’t Leave your Dog Bored When Home Alone

A bored dog is a destructive dog and there are ways to keep your dog happy and entertained while you’re away. Here are some ways to keep him busy:

Take a walk. Shake up your routine and get out of bed early enough to take your dog on a long walk before you leave. Let her run and sniff and explore, because a tired dog is a happy dog.

Turn on the television. Consider programming like DOGTV, which has been scientifically developed to help dogs with separation anxiety. The programming keeps your dog company with sights and sounds that are soothing and can curb destructive behaviors.

Get a puzzle toy. If you have a dog who is treat-motivated, invest in a puzzle toy. Fill it with treats and only give it to her when you’re not going to be home. Having a special toy—one that your dog absolutely loves—when you’re away, will keep your dog entertained and will be something he looks forward to enjoying.

Go high-tech. Invest in a pet camera that you can mount in a room where your pet spends time while you’re gone. Some of these cameras allow you to not only watch your pet but to interact with him as well. Look for a camera that lets you talk with your dog. Again, if he’s treat-motivated, there are some pet cameras that give you the option of dispensing treats while you’re away.

Clothing for separation anxiety. Thundershirt and Surgi-Snuggly provide clothing that can help ease your dog’s separation anxiety, as well as helping to calm him during a storm. If you’re going to put your dog in clothing, do so while you’re going to be home to see how she reacts to it. Never try something with your pet that you haven’t experimented with when you are home to assure she won’t injure herself.


Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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