If you have a pup then you know how difficult it is to leave them during the day when you need to work or run errands, but what happens if you get stuck out longer than expected? Our Southern Wisconsin vets talk about how long you can leave your dog at home alone and how to ensure their safety and happiness when you do so.
How Long is Too Long To Leave Your Dog Alone?
You have a busy life filled with responsibilities and things that need to get done, so as much as you love your pup you just can't be home with them all the time. So how long can you leave a dog home alone?
Frankly, there's just no one size fits all answer, it depends on your dog's age, breed, and their overall personality. Young puppies under 6 months old should not be left alone for more than 2 or 3 hours because of their bladder control and the risk of separation anxiety. When you do leave your young puppy alone it's best to keep them safe in a crate or puppy-proof room where they can't break anything or get into too much trouble.
As your puppy gets older gradually increase the total amount of time you leave them alone. Adult dogs are generally okay on their own for 4-6 hours a day. But, many dogs are good at adapting to being alone for 8-9 hours while you are at work if they are provided with enough space to comfortably move around.
What Will Your Dog Do When You Leave Them Home Alone?
If you have a dog with a laid-back personality, while you're gone your pup will likely take a long and restful nap, or take your absence as an opportunity to sneak up on the off-limits sofa to relax. Less chilled-out dogs might be a bit more mischievous - jumping up on the counter to steal a treat or chew on an item they normally aren't allowed to.
Unfortunately, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety they may channel their anxious energy into destructive behavior, ruining furniture or breaking precious valuables. If your pooch does happen to have this problem try leaving them alone in short intervals, gradually increasing the time you are gone. Once a dog can handle being alone for 4 hours, they should be able to manage 8 hours on their own.
The Basset Hound, French Bulldog, Chihuahua, and Pugs are some of the breeds that are best at being left alone for long periods of time.
How Can You Make Your Dog's Time Alone a Success?
While some dogs are okay with being alone for a little bit during the day, they don't necessarily like it. Dogs are pack animals and need companionship from their owners to be happy and comfortable. Here are some things you can do to help your dog when you are not home:
Make Sure They Burn Their Energy Before You Go!
Before you leave the house, always be sure that your pup has had plenty of exercise! A tired dog is typically a well-behaved dog. The amount of exercise dogs need each day varies widely so be sure to ask your vet or breeder for advice on getting your dog the right amount of exercise to keep them fit, healthy, happy and out of mischief.
Leave Plenty of Toys To Entertain Your Dog While You Are Gone
Before you leave make sure your pup has a toy to keep them busy and occupied while you are away, such as their favorite stuffed animal or a puzzle toy to provide them with a fun challenge.
Use Technology To Communicate With Your Dog
You can stay in touch with your pup even when you are not home thanks to technology. Pet cameras let you talk to your canine companion so you can soothe your pooch with your calming voice, or even keep an eye on their behavior to reward them with lots of yummy treats.
Use Items That Can Help Your Dog Feel Safe
Offer your dog a sense of security or safety by swaddling them in a jacket or keeping them in their crate with enough space to move around and play. Your pup might be hesitant at first but, it can be a lifesaver in the long run.
Doggy Day Care & Boarding Facilities
If your dog doesn't like being left alone, or you are going to be away longer than 8 hours, you can bring your pup to a doggy daycare or boarding facility. These facilities can provide your canine companion with the care and companionship they need when you are out of the house and give your dog plenty of time for exercise, socialization, and fun.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.