Walking out the door for work while your beloved pup is crying isn’t easy. Not only is she disrupting your neighbors, she’s clearly feeling stressed and unhappy. Since you can’t be home with little Ruby 24/7, she’s going to have to learn to soothe herself a bit. But you’ll have to do a few things to help her get out that pent-up anxiety.
The Treat Ball
If Ruby is highly food motivated, you’ll be able to soothe her by giving her something to gnaw on while you’re away. Rawhide bones can break apart and cause a choking hazard for your young pup, but hollow rubber toys are sturdy enough to withstand her excessive puppy chewing. Simply fill up the rubber chew toy with kibble, pieces of doggy sausage and a few dabs of peanut butter to seal everything in. She’ll be so preoccupied with her yummy toy, she won’t notice that you’re heading for the door. If Ruby gets her food out just seconds after you put the toy down, pour in a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth next time and pop the entire toy in the freezer before bed. It’ll take her longer to work for her food reward the next day as the ball thaws.
Puppies are like little furry balls of energy. Ruby doesn’t mean to destroy everything in sight while you’re at work, she just gets bored and lonely. One of the best ways to keep her calm and quiet during your shift is to wear her out beforehand. You’ll need to get up extra early and take her for a brisk walk or toss the ball around in the yard while you’re having your morning coffee. By the time she gets back inside, she’ll be pooped and will just want to snuggle in her bed. Not only does exercise wear her down, it also levels out her mood, making her feel happy. She’ll be less likely to be stressed out while you’re away.
Ruby needs some kind of security while you’re away. Giving her free roam of the house can be scary -- she’s surrounded by all kinds of noises and objects that are new to her. Crating her while you’re at work puts her in a safe area she can make her home. When you’re first starting to crate train her, place her in there for short periods at a time, like during your shower. See how she does and give her time to adjust before putting her in the crate when you leave the house. Just remember that if she’s younger than 6 months, you’ll only be able to crate her for three to four hours at a time. You’ll have to swing home on your lunch break or hire a dog walker to let her out for a potty break in the middle of the day.
If you live on a busy street or have neighbors who are on the noisy side, leaving a radio on can block out some of those foreign sounds. Put a classical compact disc on repeat or find a soothing station on the radio. Ruby will feel more comfortable if she can tune out those frightening sounds. You can also place one of your towels or old T-shirts over her bed. This way she’ll be surrounded by your scent, putting her at ease until you return home.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.