Thousands of dog owners admit to leaving the TV or radio on, leaving out extra food – and even getting a neighbour to call in when their dog is home alone, a study has found.
Many also treat their beloved pooch to a new toy or bone as they walk out of the door, install a dog flap and use a web cam to check up on them.
More than one in 10 have even arranged for a dog sitter to go to their home to keep their mutt company, while 24 per cent have asked a friend to drop in to spend time with their pet.
It also emerged the average pooch will spend two hours and 47 minutes at home alone every day, and half of all dog owners admit they feel guilty about the amount of time their pet is left alone.
A spokesman for manufacturer of premium natural pet supplement YuCALM from Lintbells, which commissioned the research, said: “They say a dog is a man’s best friend, and it seems that really is the case.
“No dog owner wants to leave their dog home alone but sometimes this is unavoidable.
“But as a result, it seems many owners are finding different ways to try and make sure their dog doesn’t end up feeling lonely while they are out and treating them when they get back home.
“It just goes to show how much we love our pets.”
The study of 2,000 dog owners found 86 per cent leave their dogs at home alone, with 46 per cent admitting they feel sadness when they close the door to their pet pooch.
A third say they have considered taking their pet to work to avoid them being at home on their own for too long.
Almost one in 10 have even taken time off work or dodged social events to keep their dog company.
But when they do have to leave them home alone, more than four in 10 turn the radio on for them, while another 32 per cent keep the TV turned on.
A third will present their four-legged friend with a new treat just as they are walking out of the front door to keep them busy, with 18 per cent coming home with something special to make it up to them.
Others have left them more or better-quality food than they are used to or have installed a dog flap to give them free rein of the garden.
One in 20 even pay for their pets to go to ‘doggy day care’ to avoid them being left at home alone altogether.
But the survey, carried out through OnePoll.com also found that two thirds of owners admit they feel so guilty about leaving their dog unattended for even short periods of time that they end up lavishing them with treats or attention when they walk through the door.
More than one in five have allowed their dog to sleep next to them in bed to make up for not being around while more than one in 10 have even given them a steak dinner.
Others spend longer than usual grooming or walking them when they get home while 16 per cent have cooked their dog’s favourite meal to make it up to them.
The average dog owner will even spend £11.30 – more than £135 a year – buying things to make it up to their dog after leaving them home alone.
Researchers also found 54 per cent of people would like to reduce the amount of time their pet spends at home without them.
Dog behavioural expert Dr. Emily Blackwell PhD, CCAB, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Welfare who works closely with YuCALM and Lintbells, said: “Leaving dogs alone should be a normal experience for both the owner and their pet and shouldn’t be something dog owners worry about.
“It is vital to introduce this time alone for your dog from a very young age, so that this becomes a normal part of life and their routine.
“Preparing dogs to become comfortable with being alone is crucial for any puppy owner, however this can sometimes get overlooked.
“There is lots of useful advice and information out there to help owners teach their puppy that being home alone is a nothing to worry about.
“Giving dogs a special treat when they are left alone can be a great way of making time alone fun, however if the dog doesn’t eat the treat this can be a sign that it is anxious.
“Leaving nice toys and treats can also help owners feel less worried about leaving their pet.”
Top 10 things dog owners do when they leave their dog at home alone:
1. Leave the radio on for them
2. Buy them a new treat/bone/chew
3. Leave the TV on for them
4. Ask a neighbour or relative to pop in and see them
5. Come home with a special treat to make up for being out
6. Leave them more food than usual
7. Leave them better quality food than usual
8. Install a dog flap
9. Buy a web cam to check on them
10. Use a doggy monitor
Top ten ways owners make it up to their dogs after leaving them home alone:
1. Take them outside for an extra-long walk
2. Give them extra back/belly rubs
3. Let them onto the sofa for a cuddle
4. Buy them special treats
5. Buy them a new toy
6. Take them out straight away to play with them
7. Let them sleep in the bed
8. Cook their favourite meal
9. Groom them
10. Not scold them for something they usually get told off for