Updated: Oct 22, 2021
When you want to get started with an alone time protocol.... but the idea of having to manage absences is giving YOU anxiety!
But if I didn't have to leave my dog alone I wouldn't be reaching out for help...
First off, I totally hear you! You finally put money aside, you are ready to dive in, then your trainer tells you that you cannot leave your dog alone while building up alone time comfort. Your hands get sweaty, you are at a loss for words.. and now suddenly YOU are the one with the anxiety. Well don't worry, I am going to walk you through this.
So why is it so important that we manage absences when building up alone time comfort? Simply put: because if we allow our pups to go over their comfort threshold... we will be reminding them that these ARE in fact scary making our forward progression much harder to attain. I am not going to sit here and tell you that you can never reach your goals if your pup happens to go over threshold, but I will say that in my experience it can not only make things much harder for your upcoming sessions and potentially put a total roadblock in your training that you will then have to dig your way out of.
So you ask... "but why? I am training 5 days a week with them under threshold, so shouldn't 1 over threshold experience be okay? Won't the under threshold experiences out weigh the over threshold experience?" Sadly, no. All it takes is ONE single instance learning event to trigger a negative emotional response and potentially put your pup in a conflicted situation about absences all together. If you leave them for longer than they can handle on Monday, how are they supposed to know that every absence the rest of the week won't also be a scary absence?
This may sound daunting and potentially unrealistic to some out there... but I will say, it is not only being done successfully with many families all over the world but more importantly, it is TEMPORARY! Once you build up to enough duration to run a quick errand, go grocery shopping, or even have a dog walker split up your work day alone time you will be on the path to not needing such strict management. So what options do you have when managing absences? A TON!
It's not all about $$, let's get creative!
Sure- some families might be able to easily afford a dog sitter or daycare, but there are many out there that might not have the resources to pay for this additional help. Below you will find some of the super creative ideas that my clients have come up with over the years.
daycare (ONLY if your pup would enjoy this set up and it wouldn't be an additional stressor)
SA dog shares (yep! help out your fellow SA families by trading coverage)
trading coverage for other professional services (i.e. trade your personal craft for someone to watch your pup)
find friends or family with dog friendly work places
reach out to your favorite employee at the pet store and see if they want another part time gig
trade college students free snacks and wifi for watching your pup
see if your local pet store wants a "shop dog"
reach out to your social media community, there are many people out there that would love to snuggle a pup day to day without the added expenses of owning one
join your NextDoor community to put out feelers for options
if your dog would be an appropriate fit, reach out to local elementary schools to see if anyone would like a "classroom pet" temporarily
reach out to a local retirement home community to see if they would like to have your cutie to snuggle certain days of the week
hire a day-train trainer to not only help with coverage but also help keep your pup in top shape with training (always be sure to research your trainer and ensure their methods are in line with how you train your pup)
have a favorite dog friendly bar or restaurant? see if they want a bar-dog to hang out and greet customers
see if you can shift your schedule a bit to work from home a few days a week
create an Instagram account for your pup and crowdsource coverage options with local followers
reach out to your groomer and see if they can keep the cutie on site every once in a while in exchange for spreading the word about their services, etc.
reach out to new local dog walkers and see if any of them are interested in doing a trade for helping increase awareness of their new company
arrange playdates with your friends and their pups while you take care of business
reach out to family and see if anyone I still working from home or if they have a dog friendly office
see if any of your neighbors work from home that have a pup that would enjoy a daytime buddy!
if errands are your issue, try using online platforms to help take care of the day to day (grocery delivery, meal services, car detailing, etc)
And of course.. if none of these options are feasible for your pup, I always recommend reaching out to your veterinarian to get their opinion on the matter. If medical intervention is deemed appropriate for your case, that might make a huge difference in the day to day coverage needs.
These are just a few of the many amazing ideas my clients have come up with, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Get creative, do some research, and reach out to fellow dog owners for any insight and tips in your area!