You know the story. You and your dog(s) have been cooped up inside together for the past year, and you’ve gotten used to each other’s pleasant company 24/7.
But gradually, things are opening up again. You can oh so carefully shop! You can eat out! You can (ulp!) go back to work!
What’s your poor pup gonna do with all that alone time? Will he make lunch of your pillows? Make a bathroom of your bed? Mournfully howl the entire time you’re gone?
There’s no doubt about it, your caring canine is going to miss you like crazy. What’s a dog owner to do?
World renowned dog expert Cesar Millan took a few minutes out of his busy schedule prepping for his new Nat Geo Wild show premiering this summer, among other things, to chat with Really Rather about helping your dog adapt.
He advises you not to beat yourself up about not being the perfect dog owner—yet. There have even been doggie adaptation problems in the the most prominent home in the country, the White House. You’ve likely heard about President Joe Biden‘s German shepherd Major, the first rescue to live in the official presidential residence. When he first arrived, things got awkward when he became agitated, jumped, barked, and even nipped at a secret service agent.
The majority of dog behavior issues, including Major’s, are caused by the environment and the people around them, according to Cesar.
“Major doesn’t need to be sent out to a trainer; it’s the people in the White House who need to be trained to follow a safe protocol with him,” Millan says. “You have to introduce your dog to a stable environment and show them the rules, boundaries, and limitations—and you have to be consistent.”
That’s just for starters. Millan graciously gave us other tips on how to keep your dog happy at home, now that things are opening up and We’re all going out more. Take it from us and our personal experience, his suggestions really work!
Cesar Millan’s 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy at Home
1. Provide the must-haves: exercise, discipline and affection
These are the three things beyond food and shelter that every dog needs to be happy. “Humans too,” Cesar says wryly. He notes that sometimes people tend to overload on affection and neglect discipline and exercise. A fine balance of the three is necessary for a well-behaved, well adjusted dog, whether you’re together or apart.
2. Be consistent
Make sure your dog knows that the rules are the rules, no matter what the situation. Making exceptions will only confuse and frustrate your dog. Also make certain that all humans who live with your pup are also in agreement on what’s okay and what’s not, and are absolutely committed to following through. This way your dog will become accustomed to getting the same response to the same actions.
3. Establish boundaries
When you’re at home all the time, it’s easy to tell your dog which areas are safe and okay and which ones are prohibido. But when you’re gone, your pup may think she has free range, making your bed her own or digging up the garden. Cesar created the Halo wireless smart collar to help maintain boundaries when you’re not on the spot.
It comes with beacons that you can place in forbidden areas, like the couch or the garbage or the flower bed, that communicates boundaries to your dog. “It teaches dogs to be respectful and reinforces rules and limitations, which make your dog feel safe and eliminates confusion,” explains Cesar
4. Communicate clearly
“Be clear with your commands and energy,” advises Cesar. “If you have a conversation with your dog, and say something like, ‘OK now, you be a good dog and sit and wait for Mommy and I’ll be home pretty soon and then we’ll have fun when I come back,’ that confuses the dog. It’s just a bunch of words. Establish short, clear, concise commands and sounds.”
5. Get your dog out of the house before she stays in
This may be Cesar’s most important advice of all. “You have to give your dog plenty of exercise,” he emphasizes. “It’s especially important to take the dog out for a long walk first thing in the morning, when you first wake up. A tired dog is a happy dog. A walk in the morning is good for you too! Exercise plays a big role in having a good, healthy, peaceful life, for animals and humans.”
Cesar explains that unwanted behavior, like chewing and barking, is often a sign of frustration or boredom. “The dog is just getting rid of energy through destructive behavior. Our responsibility to our dogs is to provide exercise, mental stimulation, and affection. And if they don’t have those three things, that’s when they might display the negative behavior. So you need to understand that you might be causing the unwanted behavior, not the dog.”
Find out more about how to keep your dog happy at home on Realtor.com.