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How Long is Too Long to Leave Your Dog Alone?

Leaving a dog home alone sometimes has to happen, but how long is too long? Dogs are pack animals. They rely on their human family just like they would rely on a pack of dogs to keep them company, to play, to hunt and to protect each other. People often don’t realize just how stressful it is to leave a dog home alone for long periods of time.

One solution to “how long can you leave a dog alone?”, is by having more than one dog. That way you will never be leaving your dog home alone. They can keep each other company all the time. But if that just isn’t possible, here are a few things to think about and suggestions to help the problem.

PUPPIES

Puppies have far less bladder control than older dogs. If you want to potty train them effectively, you’ll need to be on hand as much as possible to take them outside - at least every 2 hours to start with and whenever they eat or drink.

If you can’t be at home for your puppy or take him out with you, the next best thing is to get a friend or family member to look after him for you.

If that’s not possible, then after he has had all his vaccinations, you can take him to a doggy daycare center, where he can play and get used to being around other dogs. Or use the services of a professional dog walker.

If you have no other choice than leaving a dog home alone, then ensure you put him into a room with an easily cleanable floor. He’ll need a crate with a comfortable bed to snuggle up in.

Ensure there’s nothing he can chew except his special puppy toys and make sure he has plenty of them to choose from. (Think about how you’d feel being shut in a room on your own for hours on end with nothing to do). He’ll also need puppy pads or newspaper, which he’ll need help learning to use. You could install a dog flap so he can access the yard. But it must be SAFE with no means of escape and no poisonous plants or items you don’t want to be chewed or pulled up.

ADULT DOGS

Leaving a dog home alone for a working day of 8 hours is pretty tough, exposing him to separation anxiety, loneliness and boredom. Try to think how the day could be broken up. Could you come home at lunchtime? Get someone to pop in and let him out for you? Or could you organize a dog walker or take him to a doggy daycare center?

Older dogs generally have much better bladder control than puppies. Small dogs have small bladders, so need to relieve themselves more often than larger dogs, while senior dogs can often have similar needs to a puppy in this area.

ENERGY LEVELS

Different dog breeds have different energy levels. A Springer Spaniel or a Husky are not suited to a life where they must spend hours a day shut up alone. Breeds such as the Shih Tzu, Pug, Bull Mastiff or Basset Hound is far more sedentary and will tolerate extended periods of low activity better. Try to take this into account when choosing a dog.

IN SICKNESS & IN HEALTH

The day you got your dog, you made a commitment to him to care for him no matter what. If he gets sick and requires extra care, then you need to be able to provide him with it.

Some medications can cause digestive upset causing your dog to defecate or urinate more frequently. Make sure you make sufficient provision for any special needs he has.

TOP TIPS

When deciding how long can you leave a dog alone, remember it depends on the individual dogs needs and temperament.

  • If possible, have more than one dog.
  • Try to take your dog with you when you go out, but NEVER leave him shut in a vehicle.
  • If left at home, make sure he is somewhere with natural light and ventilation. The floor is easily cleanable. That he can’t reach anything which could hurt him or he can destroy.
  • If possible, provide free access to a safe, secure outside area.
  • Provide puppy pads or newspaper for a puppy or older dog as necessary.
  • Provide a good variety of quality dog toys.
  • Leave a radio or TV playing.
  • Ensure there’s somewhere comfortable for him to sleep.
  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh water that cannot be easily upturned.
  • Ensure the area is large enough for him to walk around freely.
  • Try to get someone to look in on him.
  • Give him loads of love and affection when you return.

 

Lastly, leaving a dog home alone may result in consequences. If your dog has an accident or chews something he shouldn’t, it isn’t his fault. Remember, you left him, and he still loves you. So, love him back.