Pawrents, you know the look - the one when you’re getting ready to leave the house and your pooch knows he isn’t coming with. You know the sad puppy dog eyes designed to make you feel supremely guilty for daring to leave.
That guilt is usually transformed into a sinking feeling of dread as you head out, knowing that when you return, any number of fates may have befallen your possessions in a fit of canine protest: soiled carpets, chewed-up shoes, scratched doors, and shredded pillows.
Leaving your dog alone at home can be tough, on you and your dog. We’ve put together this article to help you and your pup get through times when it’s unavoidable to leave your dog alone at home. We’ll share how to help our pets feel far more comfortable when they’re alone, and help you find peace of mind for yourself as well.
- Pets Home Alone: What do dogs do all day?
- How long can you leave a dog alone?
- Dogs that do well alone
- Teaching your puppy to be alone
- What to do with your dog while at work?
Pets Home Alone: What do dogs do all day?
The answer to that question often depends on your dog’s personality. Some dogs that do well alone will take a quality nap while they patiently wait for you to come back.
If your furball is a bit more mischievous, they might turn to some normally forbidden activities, like climbing on the off-limits sofa or jumping on the counter to snatch a yummy treat.
However, there are also dogs who are absolutely terrified of being left alone. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety channel their fear and nervousness into destructive behavior, resulting in ruined valuables and stressed out pets.
Luckily, dog owners can now tell the difference thanks to the modern technology of Petcube, a pet camera that comes with two-way audio, night vision capabilities and high-resolution video footage. This can help you get an idea of how your dog is coping with your absence.
How long can you leave a dog alone?
As much as we would love to, we can’t spend our days lounging with our precious furballs. From long working hours to even longer commutes, we often leave our pets alone more than we’d like to.
It’s simply not possible to take your dog with you everywhere you go, so there will be times when you need to leave your dog home alone. Of course, the most common question is, “how long can dogs be left alone?”, and the answer is, “it depends.”
Before you head out the door, consider the following: how good is your dog’s bladder control? Is your dog prone to anxiety or easily stressed? How energetic is your dog?
Of course, puppy owners will quickly realize that how long puppies can be left alone is significantly less than adult dogs. Later on, we’ll cover some handy tips on leaving puppies home alone and training them to spend more time alone.
So, how long can dogs be left alone? Obviously, we’d always recommend keeping alone time for your dog to a minimum as much as possible, but we also realize that life happens and it’s sometimes simply beyond your control.
Things to consider before leaving your dog home alone:
• Health condition and issues
• Separation anxiety
• Training and behavior
• Potty breaks
• Feeding times
• Exercise and activity
• Other animals in the house
It’s important to remember that dogs are pack animals. Even if you leave them toys, treats, and a safe place to retreat to, they will still need their human to feel happy and comfortable.
If your lifestyle demands that you’re often required to leave your dog home alone, you might need to consider enlisting some help, like a dog walker or a pet sitter to step in and ensure your dog doesn’t spiral into loneliness and anxiety in your absence.
Ideally, adult dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 hours. There is some wiggle room, provided that your pooch has access to enough food and water, as well as a place to go potty if they need to. However, even if their basic needs are met, you shouldn’t leave your pet alone and unsupervised for more than 8 hours a day. You definitely should not be leaving a puppy alone for 8 hours.
Below are age-appropriate guides to how long you can leave your dog alone.
How long can you leave a puppy alone?
Puppies under 6 months of age should not be left alone for more than 2 hours. Puppies require a lot more supervision than adult dogs. Their bladders are much smaller, and chances are higher in puppies for boredom and frustration to set in, resulting in destructive behavior. There’s a much greater chance for separation anxiety to set in.
When you leave a puppy alone, it should be in a spacious, comfy crate or a puppy-proofed room. Not only that puppies love chewing on everything they get their paws on, they can also injure themselves if they’re not confined to a safe space when they are alone.
As your puppy grows, you should start gradually increasing the time they’re spending alone. If you’re wondering what to do with your puppy while you’re at work, consider calling in a dog walker a few times a week or even try a pet sitter or doggy daycare. Even if it’s just one day a week, socialization will be good for your pup.
Leaving a puppy alone while at work will be much easier when they’ve had the time to get used to being on their own. Raising a puppy and working full time might seem like an impossible mission, but, with a little effort, it can be done.
How long can adult dogs be left alone?
Adult dogs (older than 18 months) can be left alone at home for between 4 and 8 hours. Adult dogs are more than likely used to being alone at home and will probably lie down and sleep until you return.
How long can senior dogs be left alone?
Anywhere between 2 to 8 hours. This one will depend on a number of factors. If your dog has health issues, the time that they can be left unsupervised is much shorter, for example, a dog with urinary issues may need to go outside more frequently.
Can you leave a dog alone overnight?
But, what about sleeping, does that count in the final number of daily “alone hours”? Can dogs be left alone overnight?
Whether you’re working night shifts or just don’t want your pet in your bedroom, it shouldn’t be a problem to leave your pooch alone during the night. Dogs are not nocturnal animals, and they’ll sleep through the night. There are fewer stimuli in their environment and less excitement, so they’ll use that time for some quality rest time.
The only exceptions are dogs who suffer from night-time separation anxiety, a disorder that means your four-legged friend goes into panic mode every time you close your bedroom door in front of them.
Dog breeds that do well alone
Even though every dog has their own personality, some dog breeds are known to cope with solitude much better than others. Breeds who do well alone are mostly those who are known to be less active and energetic than others.
Dog breeds that can be left alone for longer periods include breeds like:
- Basset Hound
- French Bulldog
- Shar Pei
- Bull terrier
- Chow Chow
- Akita Inu
- Boston Terrier
Dog breeds that can be left alone for 8 hours while you’re working are usually intelligent, housetrained dogs that can entertain themselves in your absence. Pooches with this type of personality are eager learners and don’t rely on their owner to keep them company throughout the day.
Dog breeds that can be left alone for long periods include Labrador and Golden Retriever, Beagle, Peekapoo, or Shiba Inu. Naturally, by long-term periods, it’s implied that the period is up to 8 hours a day and not more.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about adorable mutts. Each dog has a personality of their own, and, sometimes, the breed of the dog only plays a small role in your dog’s temperament.
Are there low-maintenance dogs?
When you’re choosing a dog, it’s only natural that you want to have a pet that will not suffer because of your hectic schedule. You need to consider every aspect of your life, starting from your living space and work obligations to your relationships, to making sure that the dog you’re getting will be the right match for you — and vice versa.
In most cases, people look for low maintenance dogs that can be left alone while they’re away for work, but a dog’s behavior will largely depend on their personality and, sometimes, breed.
To determine what type of dog will be happy in your family, you need to be realistic. After all, it’s not the same if a dog is alone in a house, has access to a fenced yard all day, or is stuck in an apartment, waiting for their walk for hours.
Apartment dogs that can be left alone are usually smaller in size, with fewer exercise requirements than large, active canines. They still need regular walks, playtime and healthy activity each day, but they just won’t get the pent-up energy that drives them to destructive behavior after a few hours of solitude. These small dogs that can be left alone include breeds such as Bichon Frise, Coton de Tulear, Maltese or Toy and Miniature Poodles.
But what should you do when you want a big, goofy pooch? Does that mean you can’t adopt a large dog if you work long hours?
Larger dogs can be on their own, too, but they need more space to feel comfortable. Size doesn’t always indicate the amount of energy a dog has, and many large breeds are quite laid back. However, they often suffer from bone-related illnesses later in life and need regular exercise to maintain their health. Breeds of big dogs that can be left alone include Shar-Pei, Greyhound, Bullmastiff, or Labradoodle.
It’s important to stress that, even though some dogs cope better with being alone, it doesn’t mean they should be neglected. Always make room for quality time with your pet and ensure they’re getting everything they need to be happy and healthy!
Teaching your puppy to be alone
When you first get a puppy, you’ll most likely spend every waking moment with your pup. You’ll potty train them and take them to puppy classes and play with them to your heart’s delight. But eventually, you will need to leave them on their own.
Not only is this stressful for you, but it can also be extremely stressful for your four-legged pal. Helping your pup get used to alone time will do you both a world of good when the time comes.
Create a safe space
Your first step is to set up a confined space for them. Not everyone is a fan of crates, but they can be very helpful in getting your puppy used to alone time. If you’re averse to crates, make sure you puppy-proof a room or cordon off a small, safe area using something like baby gates.
Once you’ve created the space, you’ll need to associate this space with good feelings for your pup. Spend time in there with them playing or serve them their meals here. You can also set aside a specific toy that they can only play with in their confined space. Once your puppy sees this space as a good thing, you’re all set to begin training your puppy to be alone.
Training your puppy to be alone
Begin training your puppy to be alone by getting your puppy into their confined area and giving them a chew toy or other engaging activity. Then while they’re busy, quietly leave the room. Return immediately with a treat and plenty of praise. Repeat this process, extending the time you’re out of the room each time. Don’t forget plenty of reward and praise when your pup remains calm and quiet.
If your puppy is crying when left alone, this indicates that perhaps you started training too soon, and your puppy doesn’t yet have a strong positive association with their space, or perhaps you left them alone too long.
Remember not to reinforce crying and whining by letting them out each time. Rather take a step back and shorten the time that they’re alone, rewarding them when they complete the time without fuss.
Once your puppy is managing longer time periods on its own confidently, you can do away with the crate or confined space and slowly give your puppy access to a larger area of the house each time you go out.
Leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time will be a test of how well your training has worked. Don’t go out for too long, a maximum of two hours is plenty, especially for puppies younger than six months. Extend the length of time that you’re away gradually over a period of time.
When you’re gone
While you’re out, make sure your dog is fulfilled. We’re not just talking about food and water but stimulating things to keep them busy.
• Provide mentally stimulating toys such as treat puzzles and snuffle mats
• Leave the radio or TV on
• Hire a dog walker once or twice a week
• Consider sending your pooch to doggy daycare – even one day a week can help
Stay in touch
Technological advancements allow us to communicate with our pets even when we are not with them. Pet cameras offer not only the possibility to soothe your four-legged friend with your voice, but also track their behavior and reward them with treats or playtime.
What to do with your dog while at work?
Since you’re the kibble-winner in your home, you’re bound to be away for at least a few hours a day at work. So, what should you do with your dog while you’re away?
In case you’re not too keen on leaving your pooch in a doggy daycare, chances are they’ll be home alone while you work. In that case, make sure you’re armed with the right supplies.
Find a high-quality, spacious crate for your dog. As for how long can a dog stay in a crate, the rule of the thumb is it shouldn’t be more than 8 hours. If leaving a dog in a crate while you’re at work is not an option or you don’t support crating (many people don’t), dog-proof the room you’re keeping them in to ensure they can’t injure themselves while you’re away.
A pet camera such as Petcube Play 2 or Petcube Bites 2 can help you stay on top of the situation even when you’re at work. You can keep track of your pet and communicate with them via two-way audio, using your voice to help them relax. To make those working hours feel super short both to you and your pet, check out the laser dot feature for remote playtime, as well as the rewarding treat dispensing pet camera model!
Even though leaving your dog home alone can be a trying experience, learning a few simple tricks and using the right accessories can make all the difference. Not only you’ll notice your pooch is more calm and relaxed when you’re not home, you’ll feel happier too!
When you get back – things to do
When you return home, no doubt you’ll be met with frantic adoration, great big welcome-home jumps and licks, and one enthusiastically wagging tail. Your dog has clearly missed you, whether you’ve been gone for an hour or six, and it’s a good time to lavish some attention on your canine companion.
Take your dog out for a long walk or play a thoroughly exhausting round of fetch to help your dog release some tension and pent-up energy. If your pup’s been at home all day, they will relish the opportunity to run about and stretch their legs. A good play session will also help reassure your dog and strengthen the bond after your absence.