We've settled back into family life with a dog again now. This is a household that feels a bit empty without a dog even though we are all massively aware of how much attention they need. And when you have a 'large' dog breed it's easy to forget that they are still a puppy from time to time because they grow so quickly.
(l) eight weeks old | (r) five months old
We made an early decision to crate our puppy in the kitchen so that he always had his own space but we live in an old house that's difficult to keep warm so the crate is next to the kitchen radiator. And because our house is a fairly noisy house we have put the radio on if we knew he was going to be left alone for any length of time.
Aside: this always reminds me of the Peter Kay joke which talks about leaving the radio on when you go out. Prospective burglars listening at the door... all is quiet, no radio on, listening, listening, "That's it, radio's on, they're all out, let's do it!" He tells it much better than I do.
E.ON - the energy company - conducted some research last year and found that many other pet owners have fallen into the habit of doing exactly as I do to ensure that their pet is warm and happy whilst they are out. Over half of pet owners increase the temperature when they leave the house and Radio 1 is the most popular station for those who like to leave the radio on (listening to 'The Caturdays' or 'Pitbull' maybe? OK, OK, I'll stop with the jokes now...).
They have also put together a guide (free pdf download) which has a number of suggestions to help you save money and energy.
To help me reduce energy consumption and to keep my pooch happy E.ON have sent me a hamper full of goodies, gadgets and tips to try out and you can win the same (see below). First, here is a selection of Dr. Scott Miller's tips:
- Exercise your pet before leaving them. This should encourage them to curl up in bed whilst you're out.
- Leave the radio/TV on a timer to help reduce your energy consumption.
- Leave chews or rubber toys stuffed with their normal food to give some mental stimulation whilst you're out.
- Leave warm blankets in their basket rather than increasing the heating temperature.
- Don't make a huge fuss when you leave the house; if you're calm, your pet will be calm.
- When you get home, ignore your dog for the first ten minutes or so as immediate attention encourages over-excitement whenever the front door opens (this tip is one that I am implementing with immediate effect because it's something that we have noticed with our puppy)
- Provide lots of fresh water at all times