How do you stop your dog from crying all day while you’re at work?
Most dogs or puppies will settle down and stop crying or barking within a half-hour after they are left alone.
However, some dogs simply cannot relax. They bark or cry for the entire eight hours their owner is at work.
Obviously, this can result in some angry neighbors or an apartment eviction. Some people are even faced with giving up their dogs because they feel like they can’t leave the dog alone barking all day.
They feel like they have no choice but to find the dog a new home.
How to stop your dog from barking and crying all day when left alone
There are ways to overcome this problem. Some people will call the problem separation anxiety. You can call it what you want, but in most cases what the dog really needs is more exercise and rules.
“Separation anxiety” is an overused term by vets and trainers. Most dogs do not have anything wrong with them, but they are crying or barking because of pent-up energy and boredom.
Here are some tips to help your dog feel more relaxed when left alone.
1. Run with the dog every single morning.
A lot of dogs are said to have “separation anxiety” when really they are not getting enough exercise.
So, run with your dog for an hour in the morning before you go to work. Some people will laugh when I say this, but it’s not a joke. Run with her (or at least walk fast) for a minimum of 45 minutes every single day, even if she is a small dog.
Tip: Use a hands-free bungee leash to make running more fun!
How can you expect a dog or puppy to sleep all night and then go in her kennel all day while you are at work? Leaving her loose in the house is no different.
To a dog, a house is just a big kennel. To stop your dog from crying all night or day, more exercise is a must.
If you are not a runner, then take your dog biking or rollerblading or to the dog park.
2. Buy a dog backpack.
A backpack for dogs will help drain even more energy during the dog’s morning run. A dog can carry a small amount of weight in the pack and it will make her physically more tired.
It will challenge her mentally by giving her a job to do. This will make it easier for the dog to sleep when you are gone, and you will stop telling people, “My dog cries all the time.”
3. Buy a kennel.
If you don’t already have a kennel, get one. Don’t use it as a punishment for the dog. Give the dog a treat when she goes in the kennel, and tell her she’s a good dog.
Leave her in the kennel for a few minutes at a time, maybe one minute at first, and only let her out if she is not crying.
If the puppy will not stop crying for 20 minutes and is quiet for 30 seconds, let her out during those 30 seconds when she is actually quiet. Work with her until you can leave her in the kennel while you are away.
The goal is for your dog to feel safe and secure in her “den” and know it is a place for her to rest quietly.
Once you have a dog that can stay quietly in a kennel all day, you can begin to leave her loose in the house.
4. Ignore a dog that is crying or barking.
The worst thing you can do is return to a dog or let the dog out of her kennel when she cries or barks. Make sure she learns she can only come out if she is calm.
If the barking or crying really escalates, then firmly tell her “No!” Yelling at her will not help. It will only increase her anxiousness.
Just let her know that the behavior is unwanted. Putting a blanket over my dog Ace’s kennel helped when he was learning to stay quietly in his kennel.
Slowly increase the time until you can leave for a half-hour or an hour to go shopping. Eventually the dog will be able to be left while you are at work all day.
Ideally, you could practice leaving her in the kennel on the weekend or days you are home with her so she is prepared to be left during the work week.
See my post: How to stop a dog from whining for attention.
5. Don’t make a big deal about coming and going.
When you leave, just quietly exit like it is no big deal. Don’t tell your dog she is a good girl over and over.
Don’t say “Goodbye, Honey! It’s OK! Mommy will be back soon!” This just gives her a reason to feel anxious because she will pick up on your excited, worried energy.
Put your dog in her kennel a few minutes before you go to work, and then leave without saying anything. When you come home, wait a few minutes before you let her out.
When you do, just calmly let her out and take her outside. Don’t throw a small party for her every time you come home for work or you will be encouraging your puppy to cry all day.
You do not want to “reward” your dog when you return because then she will anticipate your return. You want to “reward” her when you leave so that she actually looks forward to getting a treat when you leave.
6. Exercise your dog again when you come home from work.
Another hour-walk or run would be ideal for a dog that has been left home all day. If this isn’t possible for you, then at least take your dog on a brisk 20-minute walk and then play with her in the backyard.
If you are someone who says, “My puppy will not stop crying” what you should really be saying is “Why don’t I make more time to exercise my puppy?”
7. Use Kong toys to entertain your dog.
Buy three of four Kong toys and stuff them with different goodies like treats, peanut butter or squirt cheese. Then put them in the freezer overnight and give them to your dog before you leave for work. These should keep your dog entertained for at least a little while.
The chewing will help her relax and getting the treats out will give her mind something to focus on. Also look for any kind of interactive toys that make the dog work to figure out how to get a treat.
8. Buy a dog Thundershirt.
There is a product called the Thundershirt that basically fits snugly around the dog so she feels “swaddled.”
I have not tried this with a dog yet, but many people swear the product helps dogs feel much calmer. It’s not going to cure the problem, but it might help.
9. Gradually leave the dog for longer periods.
Once the dog can stay in the kennel for 10 minutes quietly, increase that time to a half-hour. Try this while you are home with the dog.
Once she is OK with that, you can act as though you are leaving by just stepping outside for a few seconds. Then leave for five minutes.