For a responsible dog owner, one of the main concerns is leaving his dog home alone while at work.
On the one hand, we are concerned about our furry family safety, well-being, and happiness. On the other hand, we worry about going back home and finding garbage lying everywhere, or the cushions, shoes, or the toys of our children destroyed.
Dogs are pack animals. Is not normal for them to be alone. But this doesn’t mean it is wrong or they can’t be alone.
Below you will find 11 tips that will allow you to make better decisions when you have to leave your dog home alone while you go to work. Also, you can have better tools to help your pet manage better the time he spends by himself.
1. How Long Can You Leave Your Dog Alone?
There is no general rule of how long a dog can stay home alone. Are several factors that determine how long is to long. You must consider his age, breed, health, and whether he has separation anxiety.
You need to know your dog’s personality, needs, and health. This allow you to make a better decision about how long is to long to leave your pet home alone.
Every dog is different. Some manage or cope better than others when they are alone. But for the well-being of your pet is not advisable to leave him alone for an extended period.
As a general guide, what is recommended for leaving a dog alone is:
- Don’t leave a puppy alone for over 2 hours a day. They are not used to and there is the risk they will develop separation anxiety.
- Adult dogs, over 18 months, can be left alone between 4 and 6 hours a day. If his potty and physical activity needs are covered, they usually sleep while you are not home.
- Seniors dogs can be alone between 2 and 6 hours a day, depending on their health. Some dogs may develop incontinence or anxiety problems with age.
2. The Right Dog Breed
If you are thinking about adopting a new dog and you will leave him alone at home, it is important to choose the right breed. Is necessary you know his characteristics and needs.
Although each dog has its own personality, some breeds handle better staying alone. Some need more attention and social interaction than others and are more likely to develop behavior problems and separation anxiety.
You also have to consider that there are breeds that start barking at the slightest sound and this can become a problem with your neighbors.
Some dog breeds that best manage being left alone are:
- French Bulldog
- Basset Hound
- Shar Pei
Also, consider that each breed has its own daily physical and mental needs that you have to cover. If you are a busy person and work for long hours in a row away from home, you need to choose the breed carefully.
Also, keep in mind that puppies should never be left alone for long periods. It’s important to ensure they are socialized from an early age so they can be social and healthy and prevent them from developing separation anxiety.
You must help them handle being by their own and gradually build the time they are alone home.
If your furry friend will be alone for a long time during the day, don’t get a puppy. Instead, consider adopting an older or senior dog. It is easier for them to adapt to being home alone with the proper care and training.
3. Train Your Dog to Be Home Alone
From the first moment that your pup comes to live at your house, you have to start training and to teach him that being home alone is okay. That he is safe and secure and that you will always return with him.
A dog training method that can help you is to practice leaving the house and coming back. This helps him learn that being home alone is normal and to prevent negative behaviors.
To start training him, leave your house or apartment for a minute and return immediately. Gradually increase the time you go out while you see that your dog is comfortable and relaxed and doesn’t start barking.
Other good training tips are:
- Give him a treat when it’s time you leave home but never when you return.
- It is advisable not to make much fuss and be calm when you are leaving the house. Avoid big farewells because you can emotionally charge your pet and leave him upset.
4. Have a Consistent Routine
It is important that dogs has their food, exercise and even rest hours in a consistent schedule in which they can rely upon.
Keeping a consistent daily routine helps your dog feel more secure and confident. This has very beneficial effects on his general well-being and behavior.
A dog is an animal of habits. When he knows what to expect during the day, he will be less anxious and restless.
If your pup feels safe with his environment and his daily life, he can better handle any change or unexpected event that may happen from time to time.
At the same time, a consistent schedule allows your dog to manage better the time he is alone at home. Having his needs covered, mainly his daily physical activity, helps him to distribute better his energy during the day. In this way, he is more likely to spend time resting and relaxing instead of manifesting destructive behaviors to keep himself busy.
5. Exercise Your Dog
As a pet owner, the best thing you can do before leaving your dog is to give him a good exercise session.
When you take your dog for a walk and exercise him daily, it is more likely he will spend most of his time sleeping and resting when he’s alone. He will be more calm and relaxed.
Each dog breed has different needs
Some dogs with 2 daily sessions of 15 minutes are more than satisfied. But others may need 1 to 2 hours of a daily physical routine to stay healthy physically and emotionally.
Providing your dog with a daily physical and mental activity routine that drains his energy levels and helps prevent behavior problems. If not, he will focus his energy on finding creative ways to stay busy.
Exercise and mental stimulation, or the lack of them, has repercussions on different aspects of his life and behavior. Dogs that do not have enough activity can build frustration or anxiety. This can manifest in the form of hyperactivity, constant barking or other destructive behavior.
Getting the proper amount of physical activity keeps your dog’s mind active and helps prevent diseases that develop with age. For this reason, it is essential for senior dogs to stay active. But you have to take into account that their activity needs are different from that of young dogs.
It’s always worth checking with your vet the amount and type of physical activity suitable for your pup.
6. Consider Your Dog’s Potty Needs
If your pet lives in an apartment and does not have access to a yard, it is necessary to consider his potty needs.
Depending on your dog’s breed, age and health, his potty needs will be different. For example, small breeds have a small bladder. This implies that they tend to go to the bathroom more often than a large breed.
In general, dogs need to pee 3 to 5 times a day, although it varies from dog to dog. We must also consider that puppies and senior dogs need more pee breaks.
Commonly a puppy can hold going to the bathroom 1 hour per month of age (for example, a puppy of 3 months can hold it, at most, for 3 hours). An adult dog of one year or more can hold it for 8 hours. But it is not recommended that more than six hours go by.
If your dog is appropriately housebroken to go outside to the bathroom and can hold it during the time he is alone, it is necessary to take him to the bathroom just before you leave in the morning and as soon as you return. Keep in mind to feed him before taking him out to make sure he does his things outside.
In case your furry friend cannot hold more than the time he is alone, you will have to start training him and create an area where he can go to the bathroom in your house or apartment. The most common in these cases is to use pee or grass pads.
7. Provide a Comfortable and Safe Area
When your pet is alone at your house, it is necessary that he has a comfortable area where he can spend his time resting and relaxing during the day.
Depending on the case and your dog behavior, you can let him have access to the entire house or leave him in a delimited area. The important thing is to offer your dog a comfortable environment to rest and have access to his bed, water, food, and toys.
A small tip that can help your dog feel more secure and calm, is to leave an old shirt with your smell in his bed.
It is also important to dog-proof the area where he will stay. This can help prevent your dog from getting hurt, or accidentally breaking something.
It’s necessary not to leave cables and objects within his reach that may be tempting to chew and destroy such as some furniture, shoes or baby toys.
Dog-proof is very similar to baby proof your house. Some items that are used to keep children safe at home, work very well with our canine friends.
Some items that may be useful to you are:
- Baby gates to block areas of your house.
- Covers for electrical outlets.
- Power strip covers
Another option you can use is to crate train your dog. It is a way to keep him in a controlled area. The small space can be a place where he can feel safe and comfortable. With the right crate training and conditions, it can be a positive space for a dog.
Not all dogs handle well being in a crate and can even get very anxious. Consider that it is not advisable to leave them inside for long periods.
8. Keep Your Dog Entertained
When you are leaving your dog alone, make sure he has constructive ways to occupy his time during the day.
Puzzle toys and games are a great option and there is a wide variety and with different levels of difficulty. Food dispensing puzzle toys not only help keep your dog entertained for a long time, but they also keep him mentally stimulated and they have great benefits in his general well-being and behavior.
Chewing toys, like the Kong, are another way to keep your dog entertained and even help direct their chewing habits (especially in puppies) and prevent them from chewing everything they find.
Each pup has its own toy preferences that will keep him entertained and engaged and spend time in a positive and fun way. But it’s not recommendable to always give him the same toy. It’s still better to rotate them so they don’t get bored.
Other ways to keep your dog entertained are:
- Leave the television on.
- Allow you dog to see through the window.
- Get your pet a companion.
- Leave classical music playing.
There is music specifically designed for dogs. You can leave the music on during the periods that your dog is left alone and will help him to be calm and relaxed.
9. Search for Help Alternatives
If your dog will be alone for more extended periods than those recommended, or if it will be needed to take him out to the bathroom while you are not home, it will be necessary for you to consider seeking help.
You can ask for help from a family member who can walk your dog in the middle of the morning and keep him company for a while.
There are also services and professional people that you can turn to, such as a dog walker, a dog sitter or to a dog daycare.
Taking your dog to a Dog Daycare can be a solution for people who work for a long time away from home.
It allows him to socialize, exercise and play with other dogs. It’s a great option that offers the opportunity to interact with other dogs and humans instead of being alone all day.
Depending on your budget and the needs of your dog, it is unnecessary to take him every day to a Day care. Sometimes taking him 2 or 3 times a week is enough.
Using a Dog Walker to take out your dog for a walk at the middle of the day has several benefits.
It allows your dog not to be alone for a long time and have a bathroom break. Using the services of a dog walker is a way to provide him with more time of daily physical activity and for socialization.
When you don’t have a family member or friend who can help you, there are professional pet sitters services that take care of your dog at your house at any time of the day or night. Some services offer over one visit per day, including overnight stays.
A Dog Sitter can help you to:
- Feed and change your dog’s water bowl.
- Offer your pet company and playtime.
- Take your dog for a walk and go to the bathroom.
Enrolling your dog for training classes during the time you are at job can be a great help. It’s like a daycare but with obedience or agility classes.
Training will allow him to socialize with people and other dogs and stay mentally stimulated, in addition to having many behavior benefits and in his general well-being.
Training classes also allow you to address a specific negative behavior that manifest when he is by himself as it can be howling or excessive barking.
10. Keep an Eye on Your Pet
For some pet owners, being able to see how his dog is doing while he is alone at at your house or apartment, can be a great help. It will allow you to understand better your dog behavior and how he manages being home alone. This will enable you to act accordingly and be able to provide the help he needs.
A Pet Camera is an excellent solution for this. They are
Some Pet Cams allow you to give him treats through the device. You can even communicate and stay connected with him through audio and a screen where he can see you too.
11. What to Do When You Return Home
When you return home to your dog after leaving him alone while you were at your job, it’s important to spend some time and provide him with the attention he needs and deserves.
If you live in an apartment and your dog is used to going to the bathroom outside, it’s necessary to take him out as soon as you arrive so he can do his things.
It’s also a good time, even if you have a patio or yard, to take him for a walk to exercise and burn his accumulated energy.
He will need and will thank you for some playtime. It’s a good idea to play and spend more time with him. If possible, take him to a Dog Park where he can play and socialize with other dogs will make him very happy.
As pet owners, the well-being of our dog, both physical and emotional, is our main responsibility. Before adopting a dog, we must be as honest as possible with ourselves and recognize whether we can spend quality time with him and meet his needs or not.
If you are a very busy person and you are going to be leaving your dog on his own while you work for long hours and have little time to be with a dog, be responsible and do not adopt one.
Being a dog owner is a long-term commitment and requires time and effort to offer him a full and happy life.