Pets can get lonely if left alone. Here are some ideas to keep them happy while you’re out of the house.
Just like us humans, pets like company. Dogs in particular enjoy the company of other dogs and people. Of course, it depends on the individual animal, as well as their breed, age and experiences, but as a rule of thumb, most pets benefit from some stimulation when left alone – and if they don’t get it, it can lead to all sorts of problems.
‘Some dogs display separation anxiety problems when left alone,’ explains dog behavioural expert Hanne Grice from Tring. This can include going to the toilet in the house, excessive barking and destruction of property.
‘Other pets may seek out their own entertainment to relieve boredom and provide emotional relief,’ adds Hanne. ‘This can mean bar-biting for birds, cats might scratch the sofa or spray, while dogs can destroy shoes and dig or chew the furniture.’
Natasha Lovette, a veterinary nurse from Springwell Vets in Tring, agrees.
‘Dogs in particular are very sociable animals and can react badly to being left alone for long periods of time,’ she says.
‘The recommended guidelines say you shouldn’t leave your dogs for more than four to six hours. Dogs left for longer can get lonely and depressed and can start developing behavioural problems, including soiling the house, or developing separation anxiety.
‘If you are out more than this then you should get a dog sitter or walker, or you could also consider doggy day care.’
Another way of helping prevent undesirable behaviour is through the use of ‘enrichment’ toys, as Hanne explains.
‘Puzzle feeders, where the pet has to work to get their food, are great as they reinforce licking, chewing and biting, which reduces barking and destruction of the house. They also promote serotonin release, which helps mood and promotes restful behaviour.
‘Try to avoid leaving the same toys out every day though, as they will get bored and look for other things to do.’
Some other ideas to consider
Leave the radio or TV on so they can hear voices. Exercise them before you leave the house if you can, so they’re tired and are more likely to sleep while you’re out.
Some toys to try
- CleverPet Hub – a game console for dogs www.clever.pet.
- Fetch and iDig pet toys www.goifetch.com.
- GoDogGo machine ball fetcher www.godoggoinc.com.
- K9Connectables www.k9connectables.com.
- KONG – toys to hide treats in and keep pets entertained.
- Nina Ottosson puzzle toys for cats and dogs www.nina-ottosson.com.