How to help your pet adjust when he is home alone!

Pet Health Blog: How to help your pet adjust to being home alone

Does your pet bark, whine, destroy your things, mess in the house, refuse to eat, become aggressive or lethargic when left alone? If your dog or cat is displaying any of these signs, he may be suffering from the home-alone syndrome! Because dogs and cats are sociable animals (yes, cats are considered sociable too even though they are solitary creatures!), they often don’t cope well with being left alone for long periods of time.

Nowadays, we also tend to spend more time away from home with longer work hours and kids also spend more time at school doing extra activities which means that our pets are not getting as much human companionship as before. Often referred to as separation anxiety, pets often become distressed, nervous and anxious or behave badly because they don’t like being alone!   The Feelgood Pets team shares useful tips to help your pet adjust.     

How you can help your pet adjust and cope with being alone at home:

  1. Start by leaving your pet alone for short periods

Leaving your pooch or kitty alone for the first time will be hard on both of you. Initially start by leaving your pet alone for short periods of time and then gradually lengthen the time if there are no signs of distress caused by your absence. You can also confine your dog or cat to a certain area of the house. Be sure to make this area as comfortable as possible by including his bed, a bowl of water and a few favourite toys.

Avoid making a huge fuss when you leave or showing signs of guilt, because your precious pet will definitely pick up on your emotions. Most importantly, do not make a huge fuss of your dog or cat when you return home – just say “hello” and leave him while you settle in. Doing this will also teach your pet to relax and wait his turn, and that you’re the one in charge!    

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  1. Keep to the same schedule

Stick to the same routine when leaving your dog or cat alone. This means that you should try to leave at the same time every morning and return home at the same time in the evening. Try to give your pet his usual alone time over weekends and holidays so that the transition is not too difficult when you have to return to your normal routine. 

  1. Teach your pet to stay calm

It’s a good idea to try and teach your pet to remain calm if he will be alone at home. Of course, this is easier said than done especially if you have a naturally anxious, nervous, stressed or even aggressive pooch or kitty. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to keep him relaxed and calm. Always speak in a gentle but firm voice, and don’t shout or raise your voice unnecessarily. Make sure that your pet is calm before you leave by brushing his coat, massaging him, playing or taking him for a walk.

Sometimes extra help is needed and a few doses of PetCalm will soothe your pet. This natural homeopathic remedy by Feelgood Pets is wonderfully calming and will reduce stress and anxiety, providing much needed relief for highly strung or anxious pets. For pets that are aggressive, use Aggression Formula to reduce aggression levels and problem behavior.

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  1. Keep your pet occupied while you are away

Research shows that animals tend to cope much better with loneliness if they are occupied. Leave a safe, pet friendly toy or chew for your pooch or kitty to entertain themselves with. There are a wide variety available from pet shops to relieve boredom and loneliness and keep your pet occupied for hours. Often pets feel calmer when the radio or TV is also on – a bit of background music can very soothing too! 

  1. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is very important for pets left alone all day. Not only will exercise soothe and relieve stress and tension but it also provides mental and physical stimulation. A good tip is take your pet for a walk before you leave because it will tire him out and release that excess nervousness and excitement.

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  1. How to deal with your pet when you come home to destruction!

It can be very frustrating to arrive home and find your precious garden dug up or the insides of the couch scattered all over your lounge. However, please remember that, although it is infuriating for you, this is normal behavior from your pet.

The best way to manage this is by a combination of training, prevention and a natural calming remedy like PetCalm. This approach will require patience but has the best chance of success. Shouting or punishing your pet will only create more anxiety and will not solve the problem, only making it worse.

  • Prevention is one of your most effective weapons! Try to remove any possible targets (such as pillows, etc) and provide your pet with toys, chews and background sound.
  • Dose your pet with PetCalm a few minutes before leaving the home
  • If your pet shows any signs of destructive behavior while you are around, remove him from the object of his destruction and say ‘NO’ very firmly
  • If these approaches do not seem to be working, it would be a good idea to consult an animal behaviourist for help
  1. Consider getting another pet

If your pet is really not coping well with being alone, it may be time to think about getting another pet as a companion and playmate for him. While this can be a good idea, you should also choose a companion that will match your pet’s temperament. It’s best to discuss this with your vet first so that he can guide you to make the right decision. Keep in mind that you should match pets for size as well as age so that everyone can live together in harmony.

Remember that having a pet with separation anxiety can be challenging and frustrating at times but with lots of patience, time and effort your dog or cat will be able to cope and adjust.

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