Staying in and snuggling with your dog sounds like the ideal life, but it's just not possible for many pet owners. If you're wondering how long you can leave your dog alone and what they get up to in your absence, our Austell vets explain more.
How Long Can You Leave a Dog Home Alone?
We know you love your dog, but if you have a busy life filled with responsibilities and things that need to get done, you just can't be home with them all the time. So how long can you leave a dog home alone?
There's no answer that will work for every case, of course – it will depend on factors like your dog's age, breed, and their overall personality. Young puppies under 6 months old should not be left alone for more than 2 - 3 hours because of their bladder control and risk of separation anxiety. If you must 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, hurt themselves, or get into too much trouble.
As your puppy gets older, you can gradually increase the total amount of time you leave them alone. Adult dogs are generally okay on their own 4-6 hours a day. 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, clean food and water, and plenty of exercise, love and attention when you or your household members are home.
What Does My Dog Do While I'm Gone?
Does your dog have a laid-back or calm personality? It's likely that 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. More high-energy, under-stimulated, or less 'chill' dogs might be a bit more mischievous - getting up on the kitchen counter to steal a treat or chew on a forbidden item (remote control, anyone?)
Unfortunately, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety they may channel their anxious energy into more destructive behavior, ruining furniture, improper pottying, 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 might be able to manage 8 hours on their own.
What Can I Do With My Dog While I am at Work?
While some dogs are okay with being alone for a while during the day, they don't necessarily like it. Dogs are pack animals and desire companionship from their owners to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. Here are some things you can do to help your dog when you are not home:
Get Off To a Good Start
Before you leave the house, always be sure that your pup has had plenty of exercise! A tired dog is often a well-behaved dog. How much exercise dogs need each day varies widely so be sure to ask your vet for suggestions on getting your dog the right amount of exercise to keep them fit, healthy, happy and out of mischief.
Provide Your Pup With Entertainment
Before you head out, double-check that your dog has a few favorite toys nearby keep them busy and occupied while you are away. Their favorite stuffed animal can provide some play and even companionship, or a puzzle toy can provide them with a fun challenge.
Keep In Touch With Tech
Technology has enabled pet parents to more easily stay in touch with their beloved dog. Some pet owners choose to invest in pet cameras that let them talk to their canine companion, soothe their pooch with a familiar, calming voice, or even keep an eye on their behavior so they can be rewarded with lots of yummy treats.
Help Them Feel Safe
Your dog could feel more secure and safe if you try wrapping them in a jacket or keeping them in their crate. Ensure they have enough space to move around and play. Your pup might be hesitant at first but, it can be a lifesaver in the long run.
If your dog has separation anxiety or otherwise doesn't like being left alone, or you are going to be away longer than 8 hours, you can bring your pooch to a 'doggy daycare' facility. Doggy daycare can provide your canine companion with the care and companionship they need when you are out of the house. They 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.