We have all had to get used to what a COVID-19 Isolation world is like and that goes for our dogs too! No doubt you were thinking at the beginning of lock down and isolation that being home all the time for your dog was the best! I know that’s what they thought too!
Have you slowly begun to notice over these weeks that there is more panting or pacing when they know you’re popping out to the shops? Oh and they know! You’re putting your shoes on and they’re suddenly licking their lips more? Have they started to cry or bark when you’re leaving them when they never did before to only drop the rubbish in the bin? These are signs of potential separation anxiety.
Dogs thrive on routine and retaining social networks. You need to maintain it them at all costs or when it comes time for our lives to get back to normal and you’re back in the office, you’ll have a very stressed dog on your hands. Adopted a brand new puppy? Dog daycare could be the answer! Most professional dog daycares take young puppies and positive socialisation experiences are crucial for setting them up for life. They’re also a great place to exert energy and learn new skills.
With so many adopting new puppies into their world at this time do not underestimate the training you need to do to leave them alone. You have to teach them its okay to be by themselves. Build up their confidence slowly. Now is the perfect time to train them that being home alone for a few hours is okay.
Even with older dogs getting back into the habit of being okay at home alone is important. Try doing ‘short leaves’. Leaving them for a short amount of time and building up. Have a safe place like a crate or penned off area where they can go. Remove yourself from your home, somewhere far enough away where they can’t smell your presence. Put the timer on your phone for 10 mins to begin with. When they are quiet, and not before, return inside…..ignore them and once they have become distracted with something else make the biggest scene you can by being super excited. Everything on your terms also reminds them who is the leader. The idea behind ignoring them when you first enter is to now fuel their anxiety. You leaving shouldn’t a big deal for them. If you make a big deal of a situation when they are acting upset or stressed then they will thing its the right and normal way to be. Calm, relaxed energy and a you’ll be right attitude will rub off. The of course when they have forgotten all about it go crazy with your hugs.
It will take time and build it up slowly. Leaving a note for your neighbours before you start is always courteous, telling them you do will be crying for a short time. Giving them brief run down of how you’re teaching your pup to be by themselves to set them up for life. It will save the extra stress for you too.
They give us everything so the least we can do is give them the tools to be a well rounded dog.
In many parts of Sydney sending your dog to Dog Daycare would be unheard of but every weekday morning in the inner city suburb of Darlinghurst, small dogs are pulling their owners down the street eager to get inside and start playing with friends.
Darlo Dogs is a small dog daycare and welcome dogs of any breed (once a temperament test is passed) to join their friends for a day of play, learning and fun.
With dogs mostly living in apartments from neighbouring Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay and Surry Hills and owners working full days it’s a great place for dogs to get their necessary socialisation and exercise under supervision. It breaks up the week and whether its for company or keeping out of mischief they can’t get enough!
We believe its transparency and honesty, coupled with our knowledge and skills. Every dog has individual needs and so does their owner. Being a small boutique facility we know our dogs extremely well and our owners are confident and any behavioural or physical changes are picked up immediately. Not only can you view our daycare and grooming spaces from the large street front windows, were the winter sun beams through, we have 360 photos in google map view and are always welcoming visitors to come in and see for themselves. After all owners need to feel completely relaxed and comfortable about where they are leaving their dog.
New clients must have a temperaments trial. This can be anything from 3 hours to the full day. Dogs are never introduced to the main group until staff are sure they are completely comfortable and relaxed. We give them time to adjust to their new surroundings or that their mum or dad has just left. Slowly introducing them to one suitably calm dog at a time. Sometimes this can take up to an hour of watching and patience on our behalf, other times they’re raring to go and want to just get in a play.
Not every dog is suitable for dog daycare. It can be very overwhelming for some dogs and we suggest shorter and a few more frequent visits. We can’t force them and we certainly aren’t in the business to create behavioural issues down the line.
Being a small dog daycare a lot of clients have new puppies and we welcome them once sufficiently vaccinated to being around other fully vaccinated dogs. These weeks are super important for learning and socialisation. We build on basic commands learned at home and watch the puppies thrive as they meet and begin friendships. The most joyful news to hear is when two owners meet in the park and their dogs are race up to each other like long lost friends, the owners realising they go to ‘school’ together.
We love that our older dogs learn how to play with the young ones, coaxing them out of their shell and even teaching them a few manners. A typical day involves free play when the dogs first arrive and this is the highest energy part of the day. After this initial hour some sit and watch their more high energy friends keep at it, the morning walks begin and by lunch time most are ready for a nap. More walks for outside toileting, fresh air and a chance to sniff in the local parks, then back for games, some training and another nap. Last play before they’re excitedly staring at the door for their parent to arrive. The rewarding part of our day is when we have 18 dogs playing and there isn’t a sound!
We want you to still enjoy your dog which is why we insist of rest time, especially for the youngest puppies and we are big advocates for well rounded experiences and advise against consecutive days if possible. It can get very tiring for the dogs being at daycare every day. We work closely with Urban Herd and have designed a package of two full daycare with transport home and two days training walks for the alternative days plus a weekly bath. Owners buy credits then book in days from their profiles on our online booking system.
Autumn’s beautiful crisp mornings have arrived. You’re starting to rug up so what about your pup? Have you thought about a jumper or coat for your bestie?
With many options on the market these days do you go practical or fashion? How do you choose the best coat for your dog?
How about an all weather coat that is warm for those chilly mornings or for nipping out for a last wee walk? Definitely a wardrobe staple! If you live in a cooler climate, fleecy lined for that extra layer is a great idea. Look for one with a water resistant shell as an added bonus!
Australian company Huskimo has a coat, jumper or snood to suit your all pawsonailties! https://www.huskimo.com.au/products
How about a cozy jumper for lounging around at home? We love Fuzzyard’s luxury Royale Knitted jumper. https://fuzzyard.com/au
The cooler weather is perfect for those statement pieces too! Nothing says cool dog than a denim vest and one from Pet Haus says it all! https://pethaus.com.au/
Have you thought about a Snood? Such a cute idea for keeping that neck warm while also standing out from the crowd.
and when your pup is at daycare and they don’t have the option to bask in the wintery sun, then keeping them warm between plays is essential for short haired dogs.
You’ve adopted a puppy and now you notice they can’t see? Grooming is not only for looks but important for the health of your dog. Knots and mats can pull at the skin as they tighten and be painful. Skin needs to breathe to avoid potential infections and they need to be comfortable in the heat.
We aren’t the only Small Dog Daycare in Sydney’s inner city suburb of Darlinghurst but we are also qualified groomers. We groom all sized dogs too! Below are a few helpful tips for new puppy owners and those who just want to be well-informed. If you have any questions we’re always happy to discuss your individual concerns. Darlo Dogs.
Its super important for your dog’s wellbeing that they become used to being groomed. If you have a dog with a long coat such as an Oodle/Shitzu etc grooming will be a regular part of their life. So you want them to get used to people holding their paws or looking in their ears or combing their tail. As dog owners you can start this from a very early age. Playing with their feet is an easy way to begin. Touching nails and moving legs around is also good. Try doing it during play and even treating them at the same time. They’ll associate the touch as a positive one. Give them a yummy long lasting chew while you brush. We strongly advise not to attempt to clip your dogs nails unless you are confident as it does not take long for a dog to associate a negative feeling with a bad experience. If your dog has black nails it is very easy to cut too much off causing them to bleed.
We love owners who bring their puppies to us and begin grooming at a young age. We see pups from as early as 4 months and suggest a Wash & Dry service to start off with. We take the whole process very slowly, give treats at very regular intervals and keep a calm environment. They are likely not to love it at first but once they know that its just water.. or only air and it wont hurt them they relax a little and tolerate the pampering. The more frequently they experience the sounds and even the height of the grooming table the more comfortable they become. We always want out dogs relaxed when they leave.
Many believe they are brushing their dog’s correctly. But are you doing it right?! Were you ever taught by your groomer how to do it correctly? Our Dog Daycare staff at Darlo Dogs are groomers too! We encourage and teach those who want to learn how to keep their dog’s coat long and knot free by brushing and combing from the root. When you separate your dogs fur can you see their skin? This is a good indication that you’re doing a great job!
Most owners think they are brushing but are only catching the top layer of hair, leaving the layer closest to the skin matted. Once you’ve visited us for a grooming service your dog will be knot free and we suggest to begin brushing straight away. Don’t be complacent! If you begin daily brushing from the moment they have stepped out of the salon, not only will your dog begin to enjoy being brushed – because there are no knots, you will get into a habit of doing it before that tipping point. We all know that feeling….yesterday it was fine and today you can’t get the comb through!
At Darlo Dogs we never shave a dog unless its absolutely necessary and will always call and discuss if deemed the best way forward for your dog. We will always put your dogs wellbeing first over what is requested if the coat is matted. Removing knots and mats is painful and no one wants a dog to suffer for beauty! The only way to keep your dogs coat long is regular brushing or combing.
Dogs such as German Shepherds, Collies, Golden Retriever, Huskies, Pomeranians etc have a double coat. These dogs have two coats because of the purpose for which they were originally bred. The top coat is made up of tougher coarse guard hairs and their undercoat is a fine thick and often downy plush hair. The insulating undercoat would have kept a dog alive in the deepest of winter and this undercoat are the hairs you find around your house! Their double coat helps them regulate their temperature.
The best way to keep your dog cool in summer is to ensure they are groomed regularly and have a de-shedding at the beginning of each season to remove all of the dead hair. Then the outer coat can work as it is intended. Protecting from the sun and insects yet allowing the air to get to the skin and cool them down.
Regular brushing to avoid tangles and mats is also recommended. To avoid snow storms of hair throughout your house a good Blowing Out groom at the change of season is the type of service they need. With our powerful hydro bath and dryers then a thorough combing you’ll be amazed at the difference. Trust us! Once you’ve seen our grooming room after a double coated dog has been blown out you’ll be jumping for joy its not your house!
No! In fact if you shave a double coated dog you are merely cutting both the guard hair and the undercoat to the same length. You’re not removing the undercoat. The shedding will be the same and the dogs skin wont be able to breath hence remaining hot.
Shaving a double coated dog is rarely done and recommended only if coat is truely neglected. There is a possibility the hair wont grow back or in patches.
The Bondi Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth, Bondi Beach
With The Bucket List’s uninterrupted views of Bondi Beach why wouldn’t you stop here for a visit! Their menu has such a great selection that everyone will find a favourite!
2 Elizabeth Bay Road
Dogs are welcome in the wine garden and even have their own menu!
“In amongst the backstreets of Potts Point lies Gazebo, with a buzzing courtyard, delicious food and flowing drinks.
Surround yourself with aperitivo plates & platters combined with a generous wine list of rosso, bianco, rosé, frizzante & beautiful cocktail jugs, all made to be shared and enjoyed in the sunbaked Gazebo wine garden.”
122 Flinders Street
With over 60 beers on tap and a wine list showcasing natural Australian wines we love this place to visit! Dogs allowed everywhere with the exception of a 4m space outside the kitchen. Menu has a great variety too! Try their famous Sunday Roast.
234 Palmer Street
A local pub feel with sophistication. Extensive wine list and quality food. Dogs are allowed in the main bar and they have ample outdoor tables too!
306 Liverpool Street
The Royal Sovereign Hotel, affectionately known as Darlo Bar. “Step inside a world where the retro furniture is almost as eclectic as the locals. Like a lounge room inhabited by bass players and bloggers, painters and publishers. A local favourite. Characters with a story to tell and advice to give.” Dogs allowed in the public bar! Tables outside to sit a watch the world go by.
1 New Beach Road, Darling Point
Nestled along the foreshore of Rushcutters Bay is Australian premier yacht club. The new refurbishment of CYC’s Clubhouse has been completed and now accepting patrons and their fury friends! The new Clubhouse, with improved accessibility, increased airflow and a whole new level of comfort, is sure to delight both Members and guests lower deck is dog friendly. The lower deck allows dogs.
429 New South Head Road
An iconic institutions for generations! Dating with dogs a favourite monthly event. Relax in their garden bar and with an award-winning bistro what better way to while away the afternoon with your dog by your side.
110b Boundary St
Coffee shop during the day but come Friday nights during Spring and Summer locals love going to the pop-up pasta and wine bar known as Apache Cena. Dogs welcome at the outside tables and owners treat them like members of the family.
Storehouse Rushcutters Bay
100 Bayswater Road
Storehouse Sydney Rushcutters Bay is a tranquil indoor and outdoor restaurant, serving wholesome meals made with local produce and delicious drinks. This is your social space to eat, relax, meet or just switch off. Drop in for a barista coffee or bring your four legged friend to enjoy lunch on our outdoor terrace.
354 Bourke Street
One of the largest dog friendly pubs! “The Beer Garden is a tranquil outdoor area where you’re sure to find locals enjoying their lazy summer afternoons over a drink and great food. Guests are welcome to bring their dogs to the courtyard.”
305 Cleveland Street
Mexican inspired menu and Aussie classics with a twist. They boast their Bloody Mary is legendary and they are pretty close! Relaxed atmosphere in the colourful garden where you dog is made to feel at home.
285 Crown Street
A quirky urban garden oasis in the heart of Surry Hills, The Winery offers over 30 meticulously selected wines by the glass and sophisticated yet relaxed dining. Dogs are welcome in the Laneway bar.
1 Military Road
Grounded on the sandy shoreline of one of Sydney’s most iconic harbour beaches, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is the perfect destination for those in pursuit of sun, fresh seafood platters, seasonal fare and icy cold refreshments, overlooking Sydney’s spectacular harbour. Dogs are allowed on the deck.
46 Dowling Street
Dogs are allowed everywhere in this pub and treated like one of the family! Your pup is welcome to roam and sniff every corner of the pub including indoors in case the weather gets a little rough outside. Enjoy the afternoon sun with a cocktail in hand on the deck outside or out the front.
129 Dowling Street
Tables out the front to enjoy the sunshine or take your dog upstairs with a relaxed atmosphere and comfy lounges.
“With over 100 years of history, this family-owned gem is hidden in the back streets of Woolloomooloo. The pub itself has a wide range of 22 brews on tap which change regularly. The welcoming staff, hearty meals, comfortable environment, and of course the open fire in winter, create an unrivalled pub atmosphere.”
Our dogs will inevitably come in contact with other dogs. This blog post is designed to help owners allow their dog to safely interact with other dogs and address common questions.
Read time: 4 mins
Patience and knowing your dog’s body language is most important!
There are some dogs who won’t ever want to meet other dogs, and there’s some dogs who will be social butterflies.
In general, know who your dog is and tailor their interactions accordingly. Some will enjoy the environment of doggy daycare and some would much prefer to be on their own, so you need to understand who your dog is.
If your dog is reactive or aggressive in the company of other dogs it is always best to seek professional help from a qualified behaviourist.
Is your dog timid or fearful and unsure of other dogs? Giving them the time to build their confidence and learning how to focus on something positive is important. There is no quick fix and time and patience is key. You can try walking in an open park, a distance from other dogs while distracting them by saying “look at me” and rewarding with a treat. The more they see that nothing scary will happen while being near other dogs the more they will become confident in that situation.
Your dog’s house – your home – should not be the first place the encounter happens. That’s likely to encourage territorial behaviour. An unknown dog appearing on your dog’s turf will more likely incite defensive behaviour and make them want to protect what’s theirs.
Meet on neutral ground and let the dogs passively gather information without putting pressure on them to interact. In a quiet park or even by going for a walk together. However if you’re introducing a puppy to an older dog walking together might prove to be difficult given the puppy wont know how to walk on the lead and may in fact antagonise the older dog by jumping and trying to play. A safe neutral space is best.
Attaching long lines or leaving leads on but trailing on the ground is the easiest way to resume control if the energy is getting to high and you need to pull one of them back. Short bursts and leaving it at a good place is better than energy levels escalating into an argument.
When they do meet other dogs and are on a lead, good practice to get into is letting the lead become loose. This way they won’t feel restricted when they go up for a sniff to say hello. If you’re at a stage of them being off lead and their recall is good keep an eye on their body language, and that of the other dog. Be ready to call them back to you. Keep those first meeting interactions super-brief, a maximum three seconds. Let your dog have a quick sniff then call them to you, “Rover Come, Good Dog” and move on. Having treats with you for rewarding them is an excellent idea.
This will help your dog to disconnect from things, and just move on with you. So it becomes an automatic behaviour for them. Better to practice this in a quieter park too, as anyone knows when walking in parks that picnickers share there are plenty of distractions.
Each dog is going to be different.
Let their personality dictate how you interact with them, and how they interact with others. Work within your dogs limitations and boost their confidence slowly.
Doggy Daycare’s aren’t for every dog but finding one like Darlo Dogs where they give individual attention is important for a well balanced dog. We work with your dog to slowly build confidence and give them the time and space they need. Never forcing a dog to play. (read our post about socialising puppies).
Puppy-hood and adolescence is a huge opportunity to shape your dog into a well socialised, adaptable and happy dog.
This blog post is will give you a foundation advice to get you off on the right foot.
Read time: 3 mins
The main thing is let the dog feel safe throughout.
You want to let your dog experience all the events that he or she would encounter in their adult life. You want them to experience all those things, but in a way that the dog isn’t made to feel anxious or fearful. During this socialisation period (from 3-17 weeks), it’s crucial for them to experience new sights and sounds.
Any negative experiences that occur during that period can be a catalyst for potential adult phobias and other problems, so it’s a fine line.
You want your dog to feel safe while they’re encountering the wide world. So, a good approach to take is known as the traffic light system, where if your dog is showing body language that is indicative of a positive emotional state, you have the green to keep going.
If the dog is a little bit tense, take a step back and re-introduce the event at a lower intensity, and work at their level, not at the level you think they should be at.
In those examples, it has clearly been too much too soon, and I would hope that any prospective puppy owner would think twice before throwing them in the deep end, but say you take your dog somewhere, and something totally unforeseen happens, and your dog shows signs of a negative emotional state. The only thing to do is take the dog out of that situation immediately.
Let the dog come back down to baseline, let their stress hormones completely normalise, which can take a few days. Then, make a note of what set your dog off, and figure out a way to re-introduce your dog at a much, much lower intensity.
Say you were walking near a train station, and really noisy coal train came past, and the dog cowered, retreated, or exhibited behaviour that shows the dog is in a very negative emotional state. Tail down, cowering behind legs or wanting to be picked up for example. What you could do is play a YouTube clip of a train noise, when the dog is at home in an environment where he or she always feels safe. Play that at a super low volume while giving them treats, and build from there.
As much as your dog can tolerate.
One of the common things for most people to do is go to puppy preschool, which is great, especially those that are hosted at a vet’s office, because then you are confident that the information you’re receiving is from an expert. A lot of professionals offer socialisation packages, or puppy preschool packages, which should also be considered. Another alternative is to take them to a dog daycare where there are other dogs of the same age an energy level. At a place that focuses on young puppies your dog will be would be monitored and watched during all interactions. Taken out and given a rest when they find it too much or the play becomes too much and energy too high.
Another option would be contacting friends with calm and well socialised dogs and spending safe time with them.
Spending time with other dogs will allow teach your dog social fluency, and develop the skills to help themselves navigate social interactions. For example, your dog can learn to politely request distance from other dogs (e.g. by becoming stiff and looking away) and additionally to respect those signals coming from a play partner.
It’s very crucial during the adolescent phase that dogs learn to interact with other dogs in a safe manner. They learn how to socially signal things, and most importantly, they know how to respect another dog’s social signals.
You see a lot of dogs that people may think are friendly, but in reality, are bullies, because they will solicit play from another dog, often very rough play, and will not care that the other dog is sending it very polite, “please leave me alone” signals.
In extreme cases, if you were to avoid all contact with other dogs your dog might develop reactive behaviours. This is where the dog doesn’t know how to handle experiences that are new. Aggressive attack mode can sometimes be based in fear. Under-socialised dogs often can’t cope and response appropriately to stressful scenarios, so they react defensively in an effort to maintain a buffer from the “scary” stimulus, whether it’s a small child, another dog, a bike or an plastic bag.
Training should happen as soon as you get a dog. A dog is always learning, no matter the age. So you want to be consistently reinforcing as much as you can, as well as, discouraging things that you don’t want the dog to do.
As puppies they crave the stimulus training gives them, which means they’re going to be a lot more adaptable and more willing to learn. Whereas as an adult, it can take a lot more repetition. For example, a senior dog that hasn’t learned to lay down, will take a longer time to make that connection, because the dog’s had a whole lifetime of doing different things, and not getting anything of value from laying down when given a command.
It is highly important to have a safe space for your dog to have access to. They seek a place of calm and safety in times of stress. It can be a crate, a mat or a space under a table…somewhere that is just for them. A place where all the fun things happen – where treats magically appear, special dog chews arrive and the best dog toys live.
If you are consistent you can eventually train your dog to go to their place on cue. For example, if your dog is noise reactive, you can place them in their safe place to assist in lowering their stress levels. By showing them that they can find solace away from the situation they aren’t comfortable with.
Familiarising your dog with the place can be reinforced through training. Call your dog to their place on cue, choose a signal, for example say “Place!” or “Matt”, lure them there with a treat, and then reward them “Yes! Good Girl!” Repeating until your dog takes comfort in this space on their own or on your signal.
You should avoid doing anything that could be perceived as negative event for your dog. Once you’ve gone to the effort of making the space a positive one, avoid any negative actions to encroach on their space. Such as letting strangers touching them or high energy children approach the dog if they are in their safe space. Don’t clip their nails or even brush/comb them in their space. Nothing that will give off a negative vibe.
All of those things could be viewed by your dog as potentially quite negative. They could lead your dog to view their space as less safe and instead resort to other ways of protecting themselves.
We mentioned earlier about positively charging a space. If you’re not doing anything positive with a particular space, chances are the dog’s not going to really favour it. The exception would be if you’re absolutely doing nothing, in which case the dog will choose what spot suits him or her and it won’t necessarily suit you.
The best bet is to decide where you want the dog to be, i.e. a comfy bed, and positively charge that space. Give the dog a treat whenever they go there. Give the dog a Kong or other interactive item that will occupy them, which they don’t get until they go to their safe space.
If your dog is in an unsafe location, you are better off calling the dog away instead of getting up and forcibly removing them. The dog may consider “under the car” is a safe space, so you don’t want your dog having experience with you being the one taking them away from somewhere where they’re comfortable.
You want it to be their idea, so you’re better off calling them to you and using a high value treat if you need.
As to their specific inner workings, as much as we’d like to say that we know, we don’t. However, we can assume if the dog is choosing to seek out this location and the dog is showing behavioural signs that he or she is relaxed, you would think that the dog enjoys being there because the dog has a choice of whether to be there or not. If they’re engaging in relaxed behaviour, and better yet, if they’re engaging in curious, inquisitive behaviour on top of that, that’s a really good sign that shows that the dog at least has a positive emotional state.
We wouldn’t really recommend much training much besides, “Go to your place and lay down,” on the safe space. Mainly because we want it to be a location where the dog experiences low arousal, which is low excitement and calmness. Things like snuffle mats, food puzzles, Kongs etc are fine to give your dog in the safe space.
The caveat, obviously, if your dog isn’t used to these items, say you’ve got a rescue dog that’s had a very limited history of seeing and experiencing these things, we’d advise against just throwing them a toy and saying, “Here you go. Enjoy.” If the dog doesn’t know what it is, that might actually be a bit counter intuitive.
It’s relatively easy to promote a dog to use a safe place. Once they’re there, keep the interactions positive and minimise any negativity.
You might have a hammock, or your favourite spot on the couch. And this dog has a tea cup 🙂
As a dog daycare, we make a living off people leaving their dog with us while they work. That said, we understand there are many times you must leave your dog at home, this blog article is designed to answer some common questions about keeping your dog happy on his/her own.
It would depend on the dog and their personality, what they find enriching, and their learning history.
Generally speaking, with a well socialised dog, you want to provide them with plenty of enrichment. This means providing an outlet for them to engage in natural species-specific behaviour like foraging and sniffing.
Sniffing is probably the most important thing that you can let your dog do, it’s their primary sense. The act of sniffing can be intrinsically calming to a dog. Engaging in sniffing helps them lower their heart rate. If you think about it, sniffing is a lot less intense than panting so, by slowing their breathing rate, you slow down their heart rate.
Some dogs will perform other natural behaviours. For instance, some dogs really like digging. In this case you might want to give them clamshell pools filled with sand and water. There’s others who might like chewing, and you give them frozen kongs, bones, again, depending on your dog. For some dogs, it’s not safe for them to have bones. So, you’ve got to tailor it to the individual.
There’s plenty of things you can do.
You can make what is called a snuffle mat, which is essentially a rubber mat with bits of fabric tied in to knots and that almost resembles grass and you can sprinkle treats or scents in there and that will get them sniffing and foraging away.
There’s also some natural scents have been shown to reduce anxiety, such as lavender. Obviously, you’d want to introduce it at a low intensity. You wouldn’t want to get a strong diffuser because their sense of smell is a lot stronger than ours. Feel free to get creative here.
You’ve got to see it. The easiest way is to set up a camera. Ideally, you want to see if the dog is engaging in behaviours that are indicative of a positive emotional state, and you’d want a low to moderate amount of arousal (physiological/behavioural excitement).
If your dog is really active and energetic the whole time, that’s probably indicative that they’re quite stressed. It they’re laying down or resting, that’s likely a good sign.
With this in mind, you’d want to watch them because if they were, for instance, almost catatonic in their expression when they’re laying down, that’s probably indicative that they’re shut down and not enjoying themselves.
You want to see some sort of indication that they’re comfortable, (i.e. loose body language) and the ability to sniff and explore in your absence. If your dog is slowly plodding around, sniffing something and then moving on to sniff a Kong- that’s likely a good sign. You want signs that they’re relaxed and calm.
Again, it depends on the dog. Some will have a clinical case of isolation distress where they’re exhibiting signs of a significantly negative emotional state and those dogs are the ones where you’ll need to enlist a professional (such as a veterinary behaviourist) because you might need medication to help your dog build that tolerance.
Let your dog dictate how long it’s comfortable being alone and then just build on from there.
For example, puppies are going to panic very quickly when they’re left alone. So, what you want to do is get them used to engaging with something like a pig’s ear, a kong, or a snuffle mat while you walk around the house, at first, and then you can work on being in a different room.
Then, you can work on leaving. If you train your dog to lie down and stay, that can also be really helpful. You can practice stay as you visit different rooms, and then working on leaving the front door, and you can do that for longer, and longer, for up to about 30 minutes. If you they’re lasting 30 minutes and showing signs that they’re calm, they’re not likely to get isolation distress.
Probably a kong or puzzle feeder. The reason for that is, especially if you’re using that for part of your dog’s dinner or breakfast, it’s letting them work a bit for their food, forage, engaging that natural foraging behaviour which is really, really valuable.
A lot of people just plop the bowl down and the dog eats. That’s all well and good but these animals, in the wild, would be foraging for food. So, if we can provide them with that mental stimulation and getting them doing things instead of them just laying there, that’s going to be really helpful, especially for those people who work full time.
Some people say totally ignore your dog, which the idea behind that is you’re not reinforcing excitement. We would slightly recommend against that. Our suggestion would be that you return in very passive manner and you can acknowledge your dog, as long as you don’t do anything too exciting or interactive.
However, if they’re jumping around, just go and do your own thing, do your errands, check the mailbox and everything else. Don’t make a big deal because dogs have shown that they can respond to our emotionality and our excitement levels.
We want to make departures and arrivals, uninteresting to the dog. So, if you act like it’s no big deal, that helps to communicate that.
The key is to tailor it to suit your dog because it won’t be one size fits all. Allow them to do natural species-specific behaviour, but the way that looks will differ depending on the dog.
So, whether you’re literally just scattering treats in the yard, which you might do for dogs that haven’t had that much socialisation, or giving them a puzzle feeder which would be better for the more active, well socialised dogs- it’s all valuable.
We all need mental stimulation to be happy 🙂