Powers: Your dog’s companionship is vitally important
All about pets
Recently, I wrote a column titled, “One question: Do you really want a dog?” It is certainly something to consider seriously before acquiring a dog. Fluffy stuffed dogs are quieter, do not shed, don’t demand daily walks or meals and are very cuddly.
The next question to ask is: Do I want a second dog?
I wrote once before about a dog’s need for companionship. As I said then and say again, watching my two constantly being so aware of each other is truly amazing. When I let them out in the morning, BoJay waits at the door for his slower sister so they can race down the hill together.
Lacy is 13 and her age is beginning to show. BoJay has never been an only dog. I worry about what I will do when he becomes an only dog.
I see two alternatives for only dogs: get a second dog or keep the one very busy with meaningful activities and work from home!
For a dog that is home alone all day, I strongly recommend a playmate or companion. Steps need to be taken to do the introductions carefully and certainly when the family is home for a period of time.
Some dogs are just naturally gregarious and others are a bit standoffish. Be sure to take the time to get the two acclimated and comfortable with each other before leaving them alone.
If you are leaving two dogs alone at home, after they have had plenty of time to get to know each other, at least in the beginning it is best to confine them to a room where they cannot get into trouble: no shoes or garbage cans close by.
It is good if they have a window available from which to see great things, like squirrels and rabbits running by or javelina. It is also great to give them something special to chew on. Marrow bones are great attention keepers.
My favorite is the Kong. Stuff it with all sorts of good things - you can even stuff them with yogurt, applesauce, a little cream cheese and rice cakes. You can fix several of them over the weekend and freeze them.
It is great if the dogs have a doggie door and access to a fenced yard. It is not great to leave them outside all day while you are away. If they are small, they can be carried off by flying creatures.
But even larger dogs need to be able to get out of the elements, particularly when it is extremely hot or cold.
Very important - be sure that there is ample fresh water both inside and out. Rinsing the dish each morning and filling it with clean water only takes a minute. As we know, water is vital.
I just realized that the words printed above really apply to leaving a single dog alone. If the dog is truly trustworthy, you would not need to confine him but dogs have been known to eat sofas.
My son’s family never had a problem leaving ZuZu alone. She had a doggie door and she behaved herself. Then they acquired Bailey and the two were instant friends. But suddenly, chewed up shoes and other destruction began to appear.
Now, unfortunately, they have to be confined during the day when alone. But they do get their frozen Kongs and are quite content because when the family comes home, they get lots of attention and a walk.
For some people, having two dogs is natural. For others, it is out of the question. I used to have three large ones and we traveled frequently in my little RV. People thought I was crazy - but it worked. It was wonderful.
If your dog is alone all day while the family is away at work and school, think and talk about having a second dog. Companionship is so very important for all creatures.
Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.