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How long can you leave a dog alone?

The fact of the matter is, we all need to leave our beloved pets home alone at some point. But how long can you leave a dog alone safely? In today's post, our Huntsville vets provide some basic guidelines and tips for making time home alone easier for your pup.

What Dogs Do When We Aren't Around

Leaving your dog home alone while you're at work or busy with other things certainly isn't unusual, but there are some limits to how long you can leave a dog alone without them getting into mischief or becoming bored and destructive.

So, when you leave your dog alone, what do they get up to? The answer to that question is typically determined by the nature of your pooch. Some dogs who do well on their own will take a long nap as they wait for you to return. Unfortunately, fear and uneasiness can quickly be channeled into destructive behavior in dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

While separation anxiety and sheer boredom can cause dogs of any breed to get into trouble when left alone there are a few dog breeds that tend to be more content with a bit of solitude. Some of the breeds that can do well alone include:

  • Basset Hound
  • French Bulldog
  • Chihuahua
  • Shar Pei
  • Pugs
  • Bull terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Akita Inu
  • Boston Terrier

That said, don't think this gives you free rein to leave these dogs home as long as you please. Dogs are social animals. Just because a particular breed may be adaptable, that doesn't mean they enjoy being home alone for long periods of time.

Guidelines for How Long You Can Leave a Dog Alone

How long a dog can be left alone varies based on the age, overall health, and personality of the dog, but 4-6 hours is typically ok for most adult dogs. Many people leave their pets alone for up to 8 hours while they go to work. A dog can adapt to staying home for 8 hours if they have sufficient space to move around and play. 

Leaving your dog home alone while you're at work is certainly easier if there is another person (or people) who come and go from the household throughout the day, such as a partner, roommate, or kids. Your dog will enjoy brief interactions with others while waiting for you to return.

If your dog is crated when left alone, it's important to ensure that they are not left in the crate for too long. A dog should never be crated for more than a few hours at a time (disregarding sleepy time).

Leaving Puppies Alone

There is no simple solution to the question of how long a puppy can be left alone. Puppies can retain their urine and feces for one hour per month of age. They require more care than an older dog, much like a newborn infant. If you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and do not have someone at home to care for your new puppy, consider getting an older dog, preferably one that is 2-3 years old. Or you can look for doggie daycare and boarding services to care for your furry family member while you have to be at work.

Tips to Help Make Your Dog's Alone Time Safer, Easier & More Pleasant

The key to keeping your dog safe and happy when you leave them alone is for them to feel safe and contented with things to keep them occupied if they get bored. Here are a few easy things you can do to make your dog feel more at ease when leaving your dog at home while you're at work or just out running errands and socializing.

Exercise Your Dog Well Before Leaving Them

A tired dog is a good dog. By providing your pup with vigorous exercise before their time alone you are helping them to burn off steam and feel more content just lounging around. Consider taking your pup for a slightly longer than usual walk, or spending a few minutes playing, before you head out the door. 

Help Your Dog Feel Safe

Swaddling jackets and crates can be lifesavers for dogs who are terrified to be in the house on their own. According to some canine psychology specialists, they may provide your dog with a sense of safety and security.

Give Your Dog Some Entertainment

While you're gone, leave your dog with intriguing puzzle toys or beloved plushies to keep them occupied and entertained.

Keep in Touch

When their pets are not with them, pet owners are increasingly employing video cameras to connect with them. Owners can use the technology to monitor their pets' behavior and reward them with goodies or playtime.

Spacious Crate

Find a high-quality, spacious crate for your dog. However, as a rule, a dog shouldn't be left in a crate for more than 8 hours. If you don't support crating (many pet owners don't), then make sure you dog-proof your home so they can't accidentally injure themselves. 

Stay in Touch

A pet camera can help you keep tabs on your dog while you're at work. You can monitor your pet's location and converse with them via two-way audio. Check out webcams with laser dot features for remote fun to make those working hours feel very short for both you and your pet.

Other Solutions for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

If you know that you will need to leave your canine companion home alone for an extended length of time, there are a few ways you can help to make this time fun for your pup:

Hire a Dog Walker

Professional dog walkers are available in many neighborhoods. These professionals can be hired to take your pooch out for a vigorous 30-minute or hour-long walk each day. Often dog walkers take several well-behaved dogs for a walk at the same time, but if your dog isn't good with other dogs it is also possible to arrange for a private walk for your pet. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations or check out reviews online.

Dog Daycare

Dog daycares operate much like daycare for children. Simply drop off your pet when you are heading out and pick them up at a pre-arranged time. While you're gone the professionals at your pup's daycare will ensure that your dog is appropriately exercised and has plenty of time to socialize with other dogs. Your dog will be tired and contented when it's time to head home.

Be sure to do a short introduction day (meet & greet) before leaving your dog for a full day. This lets your dog know that you will be coming back to get them soon and allows you to get a look at the facility and meet the staff ahead of time.

Dog Camps & Doggy Daycare

Again, much like dog daycares, dog camps operate similarly to children's day camps. These facilities typically offer dogs lots of outdoor adventure time, some with agility equipment, others will include long walks in large open spaces, and still others may include swimming lakes and ponds for your pup to enjoy. In most cases, your pup will enjoy a fun day out with other dogs then come home feeling relaxed and contented.

Solutions for Longer Periods of Time

If you know that you will be out of the house for a full day, late at night, or early in the morning, dog boarding may be an ideal solution. Dog boarding facilities are a clean and safe place for your dog to stay while you are away.

By leaving your dog overnight at a boarding facility you don't need to worry about rushing home to take your pooch out for a walk as soon as you get home from your day out. Professional staff will provide great care for your pup and ensure that they get outside to enjoy some fresh air a few times a day. 

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.

Contact our Huntsville facility today to learn more about our friendly and safe dog boarding and dog daycare programs.

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