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Are You Leaving Your Pet Alone?

Many of us can't stay home with our pets all day long, but that doesn't mean you can't have a happy dog or cat. As with children, quality can help make up for lack of quantity, according to animal behaviorist and CALLING ALL PETS host Patricia "Trisha" McConnell. "What's really important is what happens before you leave the house and after you get home," says McConnell. In her case, McConnell's dogs get a lot of attention and exercise before she leaves for work in the morning and again when she gets home in the evening. According to McConnell. As for spending time alone, animals need more sleep than humans anyway- up to 12 hours for dogs and cats, McConnell says. They have natural energy cycles with high energy from early to mid-morning and again from mid-afternoon to late evening. So it is possible that these industrial-strength nappers may not miss us as much as we think they do? Just remember, lest you feel guilty about leaving them- you're going to work, while they're going to nap on the couch.

One of the concerns people most often mention about their pets- especially dogs- is something the experts call "separation anxiety". That's a big term that means your dog found creative ways to let you know she didn't like the fact that you left her. She could chew up something that is not her toy, or she might bark until the neighbors call the police. In extreme cases, she may soil your bed or favorite chair. None of these behaviors typically inspires us to be patient, loving and gentle. However, your furry family member is frightened and totally distressed if she is having these behaviors. She would never disappoint you on purpose.

For simple cases of separation anxiety, you may try these remedies:

  • Take your dog out for a long walk, a run or a few minutes of playtime in the morning and evening. This will leave her feeling more content and relaxed.
  • Your pet knows the departure clues when you put on your shoes, turn off the TV, and grab your keys and briefcase on your way out. Try unconditioning your pet to know when you are leaving by changing your predictable patterns.
  • When it is time to leave, just leave quietly. No hugs and kisses, or regretful "Good Byes". These clues might make your pet feel more anxious. Ignore your pet for about 15 minutes before you leave.
  • Prepare a special treat to stuff into a rubber snack toy you can buy at a pet store. Fill it with treats or anything she really likes. Give her the special "Good Bye" stuffed toy when you leave and then be sure to pick up and put the treats away when you get home. Food-motivated pets will focus on the special treat items and not on your departure. You can even freeze rubber snack toys to make them last longer.
  • Create a safe, secure room or space for your dog while you are away. Include their bedding and favorite toys, and provide some normal household sounds by playing a radio or tape of voices and music. Use this room to practice departures and quick returns, with rewards for appropriate behavior, to help condition them to stay calm. Do not begin crate training while a dog is still insecure
  • Sometimes a second furry family member can provide both pets with the security and companionship of a good buddy during the day. Be sure to involve your current pet in the selection process for a good match.

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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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