5 Ideas to Make the Time Your Dog Spends Alone Easier to Handle #5 Sometimes Dogs Just Want to Be Do
Here we go! Fifth post on the 9-to-5 Dog blog. It's one of the mini-posts I’m sending out during the first week. We are anticipating the first regular blog on March 16. With your help, we’ll improve the lives of our dogs that stay at home while we have to leave for work, school and business.
Yesterday I posted a blog about dogs experiencing our world and things to do with our dogs. I sent out an email to the wait list. I posted on Facebook and Twitter. There was a ton of excitement. There were tweets flying around. People were replying to emails. People were sharing. People were excited. I was excited. I was on top of the world.
We are now at 2340 page views. The most popular article was post "What I could do differently?", and the second is post "Get Your Dog Set Up". So that’s kind of what’s going on with the blog. So, thank you. This is awesome.
Today, now that the excitement about the blog launch has calmed down a little bit, I’d like to talk about dogs feeling blue. After you bring your dog home for the first time, or even after the weekend or vacations, after all the excitement and happy time spend together, you leave your dog at home alone. When dogs react to it, there’s that post-fun-times blue feeling. There’s no more play, no more petting, no more treats; nothing is going on. Everything kind of dies down. And dogs are left with the reality that you’re somewhere out there, and they’re left all to themselves.
It can be hard dealing with that emptiness. Somehow many dogs aren’t prepared to deal with it themselves. We expect them to relax and wait. Maybe sleep a little. But they don’t know that. They need to teach themselves what to do when left at home alone. They don’t understand why today is different from yesterday when you were at home. Sometimes, they get worried and exhaust themselves calling you and trying to communicate with this emptiness. Sometimes, they get bored and entertain themselves with chewing rugs, destroying houseplants and getting into the garbage. It’s tough. They’re in a very vulnerable position. They’re used to being with someone. They are very social animals, and it’s hard for them to separate from the pack. It’s just so much stress and even fear.
So here they are by themselves, and now the real work begins. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to start by reviewing the earlier posts. In post 1 we talked about doing some self-assessment and setting your goals. In post 2 we talked about doing 5 to 10 minute exercises to diversify your dog’s day. In post 3 we discussed some equipment you may need to keep your dog safe and under your control when he’s alone at home. And yesterday I listed some activities you can share with your dog.
All that we’ve done so far is just between us and our dogs. We haven’t discussed one thing that is very important in the lives of our dogs. And that is other dogs. Of course, dogs enjoy our company; we’re their leaders and pack members. But they’re still dogs. And sometimes dogs just want to be dogs. And when is a better time to be a dog than when other dogs are around?
Does your dog get along with other dogs? Does he have friends that he plays with frequently? Is there at least one other dog that’s happy to see yours? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, you’re a lucky owner of a social canine. Not all dogs are very social. In fact, some dogs don’t like to play chase or wrestle with other dogs. But there are no doubts that when one dog meets another, they acknowledge each other’s presence.
Benefits of a social life for your dog are similar to the benefits we gain socializing ourselves. We feel happy, excited and energized after fun times with our friends. Dogs feel something similar. A stressful situation is less stressful when a friend is around.
Unsocialized dogs are dogs that haven’t experienced establishing a connection with another dog. These dogs usually react with fear and aggression toward their species. Dogs that don’t have a chance to socialize with other dogs experience more stress, anxiety and exhibit “undesirable” behaviors such as barking, whining and nervousness. These dogs are a sad example of isolation that we’re trying to avoid here.
So how do you prevent this from happening? Early socialization is the key. Your dog will learn the canine language of body signals through their experience with other dogs. And just as with human babies there’s a window when they can acquire language. After that, learning is limited.
Your dog is going to establish the strongest bond with friends they made in the first year of their lives. Those dogs they spend the most time playing and interacting with are going to make them feel secure and happy.
So how do you encourage your dog to make friends? Here are top three options:
1. Organize a play date or join one. Make sure you verify that other dogs are friendly and healthy. It’s better to introduce them when they’re free from leashes and can express themselves through their body language.
There are a lot of resources to find existing dog groups where your dog can make friends. Check meetup.com and Facebook groups in your area. Some groups are limited to a certain size, breed or age.
2. Visit your friends who have dogs. If you have a friend or neighbor with a friendly dog, that could be a perfect solution. You will have fun, and your dog will certainly see his friend again.
3. Bring your dog to a local dog park. Although it may feel intimidating and dangerous at first, this may be a good solution too. Dog parks provide a larger area for your dog not only to socialize but also to exercise. If you visit the dog park regularly at the same time, your dog may find friends among other regulars, and you won’t feel that it’s all that dangerous after all.
Choose a dog park that’s securely fenced and clean and provides water. Some dog parks even provide a play area with agility equipment and water access for swimming.
I hope this is helpful to you guys. Here are few things you can do to participate.
First of all, send me your info, whatever you’re doing with your dog right now. If you organized a play date or if your dog has a new friend, just share it through Facebook or the blog.
We can make this blog go far. We have already tripled the page views in just a few days. If you haven’t yet shared the blog, please take a moment to do that.
I also want to encourage you to do the 30-Day Challenge. You can join anytime. I’ve heard some positive feedback about it. Here is what Alice has to say, “ I think the 30 day challenge is just a way to stop wishing and start moving which I think is great!”.
Sign up for the mailing list on 9to5dog.com; that’s how you get me to email you all the helpful tips and tools.
Thank you for reading. Talk to you soon.