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A: Probably. Your dog may have become used to having the whole family around. Suddenly, everyone is gone during the day!  Dogs are creatures of habit, and so any change in routine can affect them. Here are some suggestions for keeping your dog content - and out of trouble - when he is left alone for long periods of time.

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While dogs naturally sleep a lot during the day, when they wake up, they want something to do. Provide toys and activities that can keep your dog entertained, even when you're not at home. Some examples are:
  • Scatter food - Dogs are natural foragers who enjoy sniffing out food on the ground. Before you leave the house, scatter some dog kibble around the house. Hide a few special treats, too, so your dog spends extra time looking for them. Always provide fresh, clean water to keep your dog well hydrated.
  • Toys - Dogs love toys. Buy high-quality, virtually indestructible puzzle toys that hold treats like the KONG™ and Buster Cube™. Rotate the toys weekly or daily to give your dog something new and interesting.
With everyone away from the house all day, dogs left alone can become stressed and anxious. Sometimes this results in destructive behaviors and endless barking. To reduce the potential for separation anxiety, do the following:
  • Start early - A few weeks before the kids go back to school, get your dog used to being alone. For example, if you frequently take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home instead.
  • Pay less attention to your dog  - About a week before school starts, pay increasingly less attention to your dog each day so it won't be a total shock when there is no one there to pay attention to him at all.
  •  Practice leaving the house - Go through the motions of leaving the house. Pick up your keys and go out the door, but then come right back in again. By removing the triggers that he associates with your leaving, you will help your dog him be more relaxed when you actually do go.
  •  When you leave - Don't soothe your dog by saying things like "Be a good boy, Max. I'll be home soon. I love you." Your sweet-toned voice might make him think it's okay to feel anxious. As difficult as it is to do, ignore your dog for 10-15 minutes before you leave.

Dogs need a safe place when left alone. Often, having the full run of the house makes them feel restless and unsettled. If your dog likes his crate, by all means, keep him in the crate while you are away. However, if your dog hasn't been crate trained, don't start training him the day the kids leave for school. That's too late and can actually add to his stress. Also, ask a friend or hire a pet sitter to come by to let your adult dog out to toilet if you are going to be away longer than 8 hours.

If your dog will be inside all day and is not housebroken or tends to chew inappropriate items, consider confining him to a small room, such as laundry or mud room, using a baby gate

Be aware that a child coming home from school may be greeted by an over-excited dog. After being left alone all day, the dog has pent-up energy. When he sees the kids, his excitement might cause him to become too exuberant.

  • Train the kids -  to avoid going right to the dog's area as soon as they get home. Kids should ignore the pet for several minutes to allow him to settle down. With young children, it is always safest to have a parent present to reduce the chance of a problem.
  • Train your dog - to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Have your dog Sit quietly to be greeted when anyone comes home. You will be rewarded with a more relaxed dog that is happy to see you and be reunited with his family.

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A: Nowadays, many workplaces allow their dog-owning employees to make every day "Take Your Dog to Work Day." If you are one of these lucky people, here are some ideas to help your dog be a wonderful office companion. Take your dog to work day.jpg

Prepare yourself and your dog BEFORE introducing him to your fellow employees. The privilege of taking your dog to work depends on you, so be sure your dog is well-behaved and well-mannered.

The same rules and expectations you have at home for your dog apply at the office, too! Before you introduce your dog to the exciting and challenging environment of a shared workspace, be sure he is already in the habit of listening to you.

Know your dog's temperament. A dog that is shy and fearful around visitors in your home is probably not a good candidate to go with you to work.

Have a good sense of your dog's timing and toileting needs. Your supervisor or manager should be aware that you will need to take your dog out periodically. Of course, you will clean up diligently after your dog.

You should have excellent on- and off-leash control of your dog. He should respond consistently to basic commands such as "come," "stay," "leave it," and "kennel-up" or "go to bed." Your dog should also be able to ignore distractions, especially people (with or without their own dogs) passing by your workspace. Teach and test your dog's tolerance of distractions in your CGC.jpgfront yard or at a dog-friendly café or retail store--not at your workplace.

Consider working with your dog to achieve the AKC's Good Canine Citizen® designation, which has many of the requirements just listed. Visit or ask me! I am an AKC CGC Evaluator. 

Get an OK from your supervisor ahead of time to leave work early if your dog isn't ready to handle the new environment. If he becomes too stressed, overexcited or inhibited, it's best to just take him home. Do NOT opt to leave him in your vehicle while you continue to work.

If you have access to your office after hours, it may be helpful to bring your dog in for a "test run" where he can sniff around and get acquainted with the building and your work space in a calm, non-stressful environment. Make it a short, relaxed and pleasant experience so your dog will have a positive association with your office when you bring him in for a real workday.

Help your dog acclimate to the office by bringing a blanket, bed or crate from home. The familiar and comfortable smell will help him relax in his new environment.

Bring a leash to walk your dog from the car to your office, to take him outside for toileting, and to control him in the office. Even if your dog is used to being off leash, don't risk letting him go off leash in the unfamiliar surroundings of your workplace.

Bring some food or treats, his water bowl so he can stay well hydrated, and bags to clean up after toileting. Also, bring along food-based dog puzzle toys such as the Buster Cube® or KONG® products to help him pass the time.

To make things easier for you, set up all the new supplies a day or two before you bring your dog to work, so you won't want have to leave him alone right away to make a trip back to the car.

Put his bedding in your work area where your dog can feel secure (such as under or next to your desk) in a place that is out of the way of foot traffic. Teach your dog to stay there unless you invite him to do otherwise. Use a baby gate to block the doorway to keep him from wandering. Even a well-housebroken dog may mark or toilet in a hallway or unoccupied office.

Schedule break time to take your dog outside. If you must leave for a meeting, isolate your dog in a closed office or have a dog-familiar friend sit in until you return.

If you anticipate a particularly busy day, it may be best to leave your dog at home or elsewhere (such as at a doggie daycare) so that you can focus on your work. You don't want your dog to become stressed from being in a strange place without you for long periods of time.

If picking up a ringing phone and starting a conversation triggers your dog to bark or wander, set up learning opportunities to teach him that this is not acceptable behavior. Have a friend or co-worker call you, so you can teach without undue stress or neglect of your work responsibilities. You might also enlist a co-worker to walk by your workspace at a pre-arranged moment to teach your dog not to respond to such distractions.

Learn how to read your dog's body language around visitors to your office, especially those who are afraid of dogs. if your dog responds defensively to human fear, you should not leave him unsupervised in your workspace. Get help from a trainer at home.


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Q. How do I get my dog to STAY? She follows me when I leave the house and I'm afraid she will dart out the door and run away.

A. STAY is an important command to teach your dog, perhaps even more crucial to her safety than SIT. By teaching STAY, you can create boundaries for your dog to respect.

The first boundary should be the door. When you - or guests - enter or exit the door, your dog must STAY at a designated spot well away from the doorway.

6 Steps to Teaching Your Dog to STAY

1. Ask your dog to SIT.

2. Show your dog the palm of your hand, like a stop sign, and say the word STAY once. DO NOT REPEAT THE WORD! Count to three.

3. Use a word like FREE or OKAY or AT EASE so your dog knows the excruciating STAY part is blessedly over.

4. Praise your brilliant dog with a high voice. Watch his ears perk up as he basks in the glow of his accomplishment.

5. Repeat the above, but take one step backward after you say STAY. Did that go well? If so, attempt #6.

6. Repeat, taking two steps backward.

If your dog gets up before you are ready, don't get mad. You just went too fast for your dog.

Go back to the beginning, refresh everyone's memory, and help your dog - and you - be successful.

Do this again tomorrow, and the next day, too.

Do this in different rooms of the house.

Now, every time you leave the house, be sure your dog doesn't follow you. Display your stop sign hand and invoke the magic word STAY.

Rachel Baum,CPDT-KA

RACHEL BAUM, CPDT-KA is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and Red Cross Certified in Pet First Aid. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Canine Professionals, and is recommended by local veterinarians and rescue groups, including Forever Home Greyhounds and the Capital District Humane Association. Rachel does Pre-Pet Counseling (assistance with choosing the right dog for your family), Welcome Puppy (in-home instruction on housebreaking, obedience, problem prevention, crate training) and Behavior Consultation (any dog, any age, any problem). Using dog-friendly techniques, Rachel can help owners establish a relationship with their dog based on love, trust and guidance. She can find solutions to potentially embarrassing problems like jumping up on people, nuisance barking, and pulling on the leash, as well as aggression, separation anxiety, housebreaking, and destructive behavior. Clients (or dogs) with special needs are welcome! Rachel is also available to speak to organizations, schools, or businesses about dog safety and dog behavior. She can be reached at 518-248-1781 or

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