Of course, you want to spend as much time around your dog or cat as possible, but you can’t stay home 24/7 but it isn’t realistic to try and bring your pet along all the time either. Here are 8 tips to make your dog or cat as comfortable as possible whenever you are not around.
1. Make sure the home is safe
The most important thing when leaving your dog or cat alone for a while, is a safe environment. Make sure your pet can’t lock itself anywhere or get stuck between doors, windows or cracks, and doesn’t have access to anything poisonous that may end up in their stomach. Pay attention to toys with loose elements or hazardous wires. Here are some more tips on keeping a dog-friendly home and a safe living environment for your cat.
TIP: Observe the behaviour of your dog or cat when you’re at home to discover whether your home is completely dog or cat-proof.
2. Provide enough challenge
Your dog may get bored when you are away. Make sure the house always offers enough challenge, such as toys and in the case of a cat, at good scratching post. This may prevent undesirable behaviour in dogs and cats and your pet will be less likely to use your couch or other furniture as a scratching post or toy. In addition, make sure your dog or cat has enough space, can move around sufficiently and is able to release its energy. In an ideal situation, your pet has access to several rooms. But this also depends on your home and how long you tend to be away for on a daily basis.
3. Provide access to food and water
Make sure your dog or cat can access its food and water bowl at any time. A bowl of water is especially important, allowing your pet to have a drink whenever it feels thirsty. Are you away for an extended period of time? Get someone to provide your dog or cat with fresh food, water and company.
4. Provide a sleeping spot
A dog or cat that is left alone will tend to spend a lot of their time sleeping. Make sure it has access to enough sitting and sleeping spots. The most important thing is that your pet can reach its favourite spot or basket. Odds are that is where it will spend most of its time waiting for your return. A comfy sleeping spot is an important element of proper accommodation for your dog and cat.
5. Let your pet tend to its bathroom needs
Nature calls when nature calls. This cannot be planned for. Make sure cats always have access to their litterbox. This will help avoid frustration for the both of you. Got two cats? Provide at least two litterboxes, three is even better.
When it comes to dogs, the most important thing is that they are walked in time; leaving the house for a whole day? Get your neighbour, an acquaintance or relative to fill in for you. The average adult dog needs to go every four hours tops, but this varies per age group and per dog. Can you dog roam freely in the yard? Then it’s a different story. Still, don’t leave it on its own for too long! Read on for more tips on leaving your dog on its own.
Got a pup? Do not leave the house for more than two hours, especially in the beginning.
6. Outdoor cat? Get a cat flap!
Got a cat flap and a cat that is used to go out whenever it wants to? Make sure the cat flap is always freely accessible whenever your cat is home alone. This will spare the animal a lot of anxiety. The downside is that the flap may also invite outsiders in when you’re away. This can be solved with a cat flap that reads your cat’s chip or works based on a sensor. Read all about cat flaps and their pros and cons here.
7. Make a dog and/or cat-friendly garden
Does your dog or cat stay outside when you’re away? Make sure your garden is dog-friendly or cat-friendly. Most pets will leave poisonous plants alone, but it is recommended to avoid any poisonous garden plants nonetheless. Also, make sure your pet cannot get stuck anywhere in the garden, or – in the case of dogs – run off.
8. Get a pet sitter when you’re away for longer
If you are going to be gone for a longer period of time or when going on a holiday without your dog or cat, always make sure your pet is taken care of. Ask an acquaintance, relative, neighbour or get a pet sitter.