Most of us pet parents have jobs, appointments, and other errands that make us leave our pets behind at home. As much as we’d love to bring our furry companions along with us, sometimes, it just isn’t feasible. It seems like leaving the TV or radio on may help reduce the level of silence and help our fur babies feel a bit more comfortable without a human presence in the home, but does it really help? Here’s what you should consider.
What Happens When You Leave Your Pet at Home?
We can’t always take our pets with us outside of the home, so it’s inevitable that they will sometimes be left by themselves. Although some pets may be fine with having a few hours to themselves to snooze, relax, and recharge for the playtime they’ll be getting when their favorite person comes home, not all pets handle this so well.
One huge issue amongst our closest companions is separation anxiety. Cats and dogs are very social creatures, and although each individual may have their own distinct personality and socialization preferences, interaction with our pets is a must.
Cats that are experiencing separation anxiety will often become destructive, regress in their litter box training, display behaviors like vomiting or excessive grooming, have irregular eating habits or be extremely verbal. Dogs with separation anxiety are notorious for having accidents inside the home and engaging in destructive behaviors, especially things like chewing up furniture and other items in the home.
Although providing your cat or pup with as much stability as possible to help them learn your schedule and know what to expect during the day can help a lot with this issue, not all pets can be so reassured. Some pets are more likely to struggle with anxiety due to individual personality traits, genetics, or past experiences (such as rescued pets and those that have been rehomed).
There isn’t one guaranteed factor that determines if your furry companion will struggle emotionally in your absence, so it’s always important to establish structure as soon as possible when you bring your new fur baby home.
Does Leaving a TV or Radio on For Your Pets Help?
When heading out the door for the day or for just a quick trip to the store, many pet parents gain some comfort in leaving their pets behind if they turn on a radio or the television to mimic the sounds of company still being in the home and provide some stimulation.
For dogs, this may actually become a learned cue to help them realize that you’re about to step out of the home for a bit and that you’ll be returning shortly. Depending on what you leave playing on the television or the type of music you play on the radio for your pup, certain music has been shown to be very calming for dogs, and your pup is likely to have the sounds of television background noise become an effective distraction away from your absence.
If you have a dog that already likes watching television, the chance of success in using the TV to reduce their separation anxiety is even higher. However, some dogs may struggle with overstimulation at times, so this may not always be an effective way to help your furry pal pass the time.
For cat parents, tactics such as turning on the television or radio may not be so successful. In a study on the matter, it was found that cats don’t really enjoy the sounds associated with human music and instead prefer something that’s more on their own frequency levels. Despite their musical preferences, though, many cats do tend to enjoy watching television due to the stimulation provided by fast-moving images.
Depending on your feline companion’s preferences, turning on an interesting animal flick while you step out for a bit may just be a reasonable solution. If your cat’s hunting instincts cause them to pounce without a care in the world, though, you may want to consider some other alternatives to avoid them knocking it over and getting injured, as well as accidentally causing damage to the television in their excitement.
The Benefits of a Pet Sitter or Dog Walker
If your pet struggles when you’re away even for a short while, or if you know you’re going to be gone from the home long enough that they’ll be desperate for a potty break and some attention, one of the best options you can consider is hiring a dog walker or a pet sitter.
Dogs with a lot of energy and high exercise needs are at the top of the list for canines that will benefit from the services of a dog walker. If your fur baby requires a significant amount of attention, stimulation, and physical activity, having a dog walker visit your pup while you’re at work or tending to other obligations is a great way to not only reduce the risk of a bored dog wreaking havoc within the home but also to make sure your dog is as happy and healthy as possible and that its physical and psychological needs are being met no matter what your work or life schedule has in mind.
Rather than coming home to a chaotic pup that’s been pent up all day, you’ll be able to return home to a happy, well-balanced fur baby that’s happy to see you rather than stressing from staring at a wall for hours.
Some cats and dogs may have age-related or medical-related issues that make extra potty breaks a necessity. Crate training for dogs is a safe and effective way of helping reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring in your home while away, but even if your pet can hold their urine or other potty needs for a long time, there are quite a few health risks if this occurs too frequently.
Having someone available to come let your pup outside during the day while you’re away or take them on a walk is a great way to prevent such health concerns, as well as give your dog some much-needed time to stretch their legs, have some fun, and burn off some energy.
Although cats may be okay regarding potty-related activities while you’re away, having a pet sitter pop in to check on them not only provides them with some socialization in your absence but also provides you with the security of having a sitter present to check in with to see how your beloved companion is doing while you’re out. After a while, your furry pal will likely even come to look forward to your outings because they know that a fun “friend” will be coming to visit them while you’re away.
Although some calming music or intriguing animal flicks on TV may be a good temporary substitute for human interaction and stimulation while you’re away from home, nothing quite replaces the engagement of an actual person being right there to care for and spend time with your furry pal. Here at Space Coast Pet Services, we’re always available to provide home drop-ins and check on your pets to provide you with peace of mind.
Along with the security of having someone in your home to let you know that things are okay in your absence and that your best pal is doing well, providing those opportunities for interaction and enjoyment for your pets is so important in keeping them content and ensuring their wellbeing.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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