Ask Hopeful Henry: Help your pets deal with being home alone |

Ask Hopeful Henry: Help your pets deal with being home alone

Dear Henry,

I am concerned with leaving my pet at home alone. I just found a job, which is great news, but now I’m gone more than I have been, so I’m worried about my pet. Any suggestions?

Thank you,


Dear Vicky,

Here are some tips to help soothe your pet’s loneliness while you are at work.

First, make some time to play with your pet right before you leave. Make sure the exercise is lively so your cat or dog can release that excess energy. This will help them relax and snooze while you’re gone. If you have cats that aren’t into chasing toys, give them a nice long cuddle, which will help them feel less lonely later.

If you have a dog, create a positive association with being alone. Every time you head out, give your pup a puzzle toy stuffed with food. These toys take about 20 minutes to complete and are very entertaining for dogs. Check your local pet store for assorted puzzle toys. One I found that works well is called KONG. Its design makes it bounce unpredictably and it has a hollow center that can be stuffed with treats or peanut butter to give your dog an extra challenge.

Treat their senses. Giving your dog something that smells interesting is the animal equivalent of giving them a good book to read. Rub a fragrant snack or a drop of olive oil on a rubber toy. If you have a nervous dog, spritz your home with soothing aromas like chamomile and lavender or use one of the plug-in style air fresheners in those scents.

Hide the toys. If you put all your pets’ toys out at once they will become bored. Keep some hidden away, then swap them back into the mix every few days so they feel new again. If you have a cat the best toy ever is a paper bag. Simply drop an open bag on the floor before departing (make sure to cut handles off the bag so they can’t get caught in it). You can also sprinkle a little bit of catnip in the paper bag for extra amusement and make sure they have a perch near a window for bird-watching.

Leave a friendly reminder by leaving an old T-shirt or pair of old socks tied in a knot that has your scent on it or stuffing a pet bed with old clothes that have your scent on them. It makes a good toy and the familiar odor will comfort your pet, particularly a puppy with separation anxiety.

Hope these ideas help your pets feel better about being alone.

Hopeful Henry

I just wanted to remind everyone it’s time to get out those cute pictures I know you all have of your Tahoe pets. The Lake Tahoe Humane Society and S.P.C.A. is accepting submissions for its annual “Tahoe Pets” calendar and new this year is the “Tahoe Pets” playing cards. The deadline is July 15, which is earlier than in past years. This way everyone will have their calendars and cards in plenty of time to send to friends and family for Christmas. After all, what a great Christmas gift! For information on submitting your pictures, go to, and click on the calendar tab at the top of the page. Or stop by the office located at 870 Emerald Bay Road, Suite 104.

— Submit your questions or letters via email to or by mail to P.O. Box PET, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. Visit the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA on Facebook at You can also become a Facebook friend of Hopeful Henry at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more