Since the time of their domestication until only a few decades ago, dogs spent the majority of their time working with their masters in the wild, in the fields, or even in the streets. Modern life and the necessities of work don’t generally allow for this same side-by-side constant togetherness. As a consequence, the overwhelming majority of dogs spend their days, and sometimes their nights alone. This can lead to problems with destructive behavior, separation anxiety, and even depression.

Depending on the breed of dog and the exact living situation they have, however, it is generally possible to find ways to help a dog keep themselves occupied for many, if not all of the long hours that their owner may have to spend at work and taking care of other dog-unfriendly tasks. This post focuses on a handful of tested techniques that offer a respite from the bad behavior, anxiety, or listlessness that can often accompany being left along for long stretches of time.

Wear them Out Beforehand

If at all possible, one of the best ways to make sure that a dog’s alone time is pleasant is to tire them out beforehand. Depending on the owner’s schedule it may not always be possible, but a long run, a longer walk, a session with a toy at the local green space, or other strenuous exercise can supply a dog with incentive to sleep away much (if not all) of the day. Dogs require a certain amount of daily exercise as well as mental activity to keep them healthy. Getting it in prior to leaving for work can help with some of the problems associated with leaving a dog home alone all day.

Keep them Busy During

If the dog owner cannot invest the time to exercise their dog prior to leaving for the day, another technique that can help is to provide the dog with activities. A “Kong,” or other such toy that rewards persistence with a small bit of food is a great way to keep an energetic dog occupied for minutes and even hours. The toy needs to be appropriately matched to the dog’s size and intelligence for it to have the desired effect.

Seek Professional Help

There are a great many daycare and walking services available these days in nearly every municipality of any size throughout the country. Finding a reputable dog day care where dogs are free to play all day, exercising with other dogs, or hiring a walking service to come to the owner’s home and exercise the dog in the middle of the day are two great ways to combat loneliness, depression, and acting out.

All Dogs Need Attention, Affection, and Stimulation to Thrive

Most dog owners have to work, if only to purchase more dog toys and treats. This fact, coupled with the lack of jobs allowing for dogs to accompany their owners to work, make staying home alone a necessity for most contemporary canines. With a little forethought, exercise, or by hiring a professional to step in, most of the negative consequences and behaviors associated with separation anxiety and dog depression can be avoided.