Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could be with your dog all of the time? Think of all the fun you could have together. However, like most dog owners, you have to work and the kids need to go to school. Inevitably, this means there are long periods of time when your dog is left alone.
For your dog, this can be one of the most difficult things he ever has to face. He considers you and your family to be his pack. Any separation will naturally be very stressful for him. So, how long should you leave your dog alone and is there anything you can do that will make his time alone less stressful?
Planning is everything. Make time to do some practice runs before you leave your dog alone for the first time. Start by leaving him for a short period whilst you are still nearby. Maybe just a few minutes at first, and then gradually build up the time over a week or two.
This is very important for puppies and following a recent adoption. When your dog is left alone for the first time, he doesn’t know you will be back later. It is therefore important that you make the effort to build up his trust.
Is Your Dog Safe?
Your home is full of potential hazards like plastic bags, rubber bands, and cleaning chemicals. Make sure your dog is going to be safe whilst left on his own by clearing away anything he might damage, could swallow, or might hurt himself on. Many owners prefer to crate their dog when left alone to keep them safe. This involves locking him in a cage or similar whilst they are away.
Some misguided people compare crating to putting your dog in a prison. The reality is that when done right, most dogs actually see the crate as somewhere safe where they can rest and play.
Other pet parents don’t like the thought of their animal confined to a crate all day. They instead choose to let their dog roam freely about the home. If you choose to let your dog free roam then make sure you shut off any rooms you would rather he does not enter.
Is Your Dog Relaxed?
A bored dog with lots of energy will always find something to do. The problem is that what he focuses on is likely to be something you would rather he didn’t. You should therefore always take your dog out for a long walk so he is nice and relaxed before leaving him. A tired dog will sleep a lot, which will help time pass by for him.
Also, ensure his favourite toys are where he can easily find them. When he does wake up, he may want to play. In addition, why not leave him some treats to keep him occupied. A Knog toy filled with biscuits can keep a dog amused for hours.
Does Your Dog Need To Potty?
In general, small dogs have smaller bladders and need to pee and poop more often than larger breeds. Putting your dog in a crate can help his bladder control. However, every dog has a physical limit to how long he can hold it.
Most mature dogs can be left alone for up to 6 hours at a time. If you need to leave your dog for longer then make sure he gets a chance to potty sometime soon after his first 4 hours of captivity.
If you work nearby then go home for lunch and take your dog for a short walk. Otherwise, ask a neighbour, friend, or relative to drop in each day and walk the dog for you. Alternatively, you can pay a dog walker to visit and exercise him.
The constant care a puppy needs can make dividing your time between work and his training difficult. Many, therefore entrust the care of their dog to a friend or relative whilst they are at work. If you do this then make sure they follow the same potty training program you do so your puppy does not get confused.
In general, a puppy should not be crated for more than 1 hour for every month old he is. For instance, an eight-week-old puppy should spend no longer than 2 hours in the crate, before he is taken to potty. Puppy or mature dog, ensure your dog has an opportunity to potty before he is left alone for any extended time. In addition, never leave him alone for so long, that he is forced to urinate or poop in your home or in his crate. This can lead to bad habits forming that can be very difficult to break.
Takeaways For Your Dog Left Alone
- Do some practice runs before leaving your dog alone for the first time.
- Make sure your dog is going to be safe whilst left on his own.
- Always take your dog out for a long walk so he is nice and relaxed.
- Ensure your dog has an opportunity to potty before he is left alone for any extended time.
- Never leave him alone for so long, he is forced to urinate or poop in your home or in his crate