Not everyone is in a position to become a stay-at-home pet parent. Whether you’re a single person or part of a large family with busy schedules, the fact of the matter is that you’re probably going to have to leave your brand-new puppy at home alone for a portion of the day.
When puppies are home alone without any human supervision, their safety and their happiness become the biggest concerns. You would never want your puppy to accidentally get hurt as a result of leaving him alone. And you also wouldn’t want him turning to destructive behavior because he’s bored.
In this article, Petland Parma lays out fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to keep your puppy safe and happy while you’re gone for 8 – 10 hours at work.
CREATE A SAFE SPACE
The first order of business when preparing to leave your new puppy home is to create a safe space for your little fur baby to call home. This is to say that it’s probably not appropriate to give your puppy free reign of the entire house. Depending on how large your home is and what is kept in the various rooms, you may have to limit your puppy to only having access to one room while you’re gone.
Some puppy parents deem it best to set up a puppy pen in their living room, which greatly limits their puppies. Use your best judgment. The point of creating a safe space is to ensure that nothing dangerous is kept where your puppy will be while you’re at work.
LOCK DRAWERS, TRASH BINS, AND TOILET LIDS
Dogs are notorious for rummaging through trash and quenching their thirst at the nearest toilet. Neither of which should you allow your puppy to do. In fact, common household trash can contain harmful chemicals and foods that are poisonous to dogs and puppies. If your puppy will have access to any rooms that contain trash bins, we recommend that you buy trash bin locks or buy bins with lids that clamp shut. Also, keep all of the bathroom doors closed while you’re gone. If you choose to keep your bathrooms open, due to needing your puppy to relieve himself on pee pads in the bathroom, then be sure to use toilet lid locks.
PROVIDE A SUPER COZY BED
Puppies spend most of their days sleeping and napping. In fact, if your puppy is younger than 4 months, chances are he’s going to sleep on and off the entire time you’re gone at work. But even if your puppy is 8 months old to a year, he’ll still appreciate a cozy bed where he can relax. For this reason, we recommend that you make sure his bed is super cozy, with plenty of blankets and pillows.
If he’s still in his crate, you can set a puppy bed inside with an old sweatshirt and your puppy’s favorite stuffed animal. By providing your puppy with a relaxing place to rest, he’ll be less likely to rearrange your couch cushions or tear your bedroom apart.
FRESH WATER IS A MUST
It should go without saying that pet parents should leave fresh water out for their puppies. But knowing that this is the right thing to do can be tricky for first time puppy owners who become preoccupied with not wanting to deal with puppy pee. Some parents will withhold water from their puppy, mistakenly thinking that this will reduce the risk of their puppy peeing where he shouldn’t. Don’t do this. The best way to eliminate the risk of your puppy peeing where he shouldn’t is to properly housebreak him with potty training. When you’re gone, your puppy needs access to fresh water at all times, so leave out a clear, room temperature bowl of water for him.
INVEST IN A TREAT-DISPENSING DOGGY CAMERA
If you really want to know that your puppy is safe and happy while you’re gone, we recommend that you invest in a doggy camera. These cameras record a live feed of footage that you can watch in real-time on your smartphone or computer. Many doggy cameras come with treat dispensers, which is a great way to get your puppy’s attention so that he comes in front of the camera. These cameras will “shoot” a dog treat, which your puppy will go after, drawing him out into the camera’s field of vision. Though some cameras, like the Furby, are expensive, they are well worth the investment, in our opinion.
LEAVE THEM WITH DOG TOYS AND A PUPPY PUZZLE
When your puppy is napping or sleeping, he’s probably going to have a lot of energy, because, well, he’s a puppy after all. Puppies will most readily expend energy by running around, but they also need to expend mental energy by engaging in a mentally stimulating game. This is why it’s a good reason to leave your puppy with a few toys, like a bouncy ball he can play with, and a puppy puzzle.
A puppy puzzle is a toy that you lodge a dog treat inside. The puppy then has to use his wits and smarts to figure out how to get the treat out of the toy. This can be both mentally stimulating and physically engaging, as your puppy will have to “hold,” “pinch,” and “shake” the toy at just the right angle to get the treat. A good puppy puzzle could last between 20 minutes to an hour!
GIVE THEM A LOT OF EXERCISE BEFORE YOU GO
In order to help reduce destructive behavior while you’re gone, one of the best things you can do for your puppy is provide a hearty amount of exercise before you go. This could include a long walk around the block, a game of fetch outside, and some moderate play inside. If you can encourage your puppy to expel most of his energy before you leave for the day, there’s a good chance he’ll spend the first few hours while you’re gone napping.
LEAVE THE TV OR RADIO ON
Different pet parents have varying opinions on this next recommendation, but we wanted to include it anyway. You can leave your TV or radio on. This provides your puppy with talking humans for your puppy to listen to. This can comfort your puppy, though it’s not a guarantee. Even so, you might try it out and see if it helps keep your puppy calm.
CONSIDER HIRING A DOG WALKER
One of the best ways to ensure your puppy’s safety and happiness while you’re away at work is to hire a local dog walker to stop in on your dog mid-day. Depending on the dog walker and / or the dog walking service you use, a dog walker can spend between 15 minutes to a full hour with your puppy, and this time can be a combination of outdoor exercise and indoor play and pats.
It’s understandable that not everyone can afford a dog walker. And so, a family member or friend is the next best option. If you have a reliable, trustworthy friend who’s available during the daytime, ask them if they would be willing to stop in on your puppy to make sure he’s okay and to spend a little time.
What else can you do to keep your puppy safe and happy when you work full time? Let us know in the comments section below!
Are you ready for a new puppy? Petland Parma has new arrivals that will melt your heart! Stop by our Parma, OH location and talk with our knowledgeable pet counselors about the best dog breed to match your lifestyle.