Any dog owner will agree about the importance of making sure their dog is fed, walked, and not alone in the house for too long.
Although your calendar can’t revolve around your dog’s needs, a good owner will always take their dog into account when making their plans.
We’ll discuss how long it’s safe to be leaving dog alone at home, what to do before you go, and other things to consider before doing so.
What Happens When You Leave Your Dog Alone?
As a rule of thumb, it’s safe to leave adult dogs alone between four and six hours a day. Puppies, on the other hand, should not be left alone for more than two hours a day.
Apart from the stress and potential separation anxiety that can come from leaving a dog at home alone, too much time alone can also cause your dog to develop bad habits like:
- Scratching or chewing on clothes or furniture
- Barking excessively
- Attempting to escape
Of course, you can’t stay with your dog all the time, so we’ve listed some steps to take when leaving your dog alone for extended periods of time.
Make Sure They Can Relieve Themselves
According to experts, most dogs need to pee between three and five times daily. Of course, the timing of potty breaks varies from dog to dog, with puppies and senior dogs usually needing more frequent breaks.
Unfortunately, not allowing your dog enough opportunities to pee doesn’t just create messes around the house, but can also lead to them having more serious health issues like bladder stones and incontinence.
Two simple ways of dealing with this issue include installing a doggy door or hiring a dog-walker to take them out for a mid-day bathroom break.
Try To Exercise Them Early
All dog owners (and most non-dog owners) know that dogs need a lot of exercise to stay healthy.
Regardless of your dog’s age, fitness, or energy level, exercise will help them to:
- Digest their meals
- Stay sharp and energetic
- Burn off excess calories
- Avoid boredom
One of the best things you can do when leaving your dog alone for the day is to make sure to exercise them early in the day. Taking your dog out for a good, vigorous walk will often make them want to take a nap after. This is the perfect time to leave the house as your dog will be either sleeping or relaxed.
To keep your dog healthy, experts recommend an average of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity. This does not have to be all at once, though.
Before leaving your dog home alone for an extended period, you should spend 20-30 minutes with them, either playing or taking a brisk walk. When a dog is tired, they’ll have less energy to stress and will generally be more relaxed when they’re alone.
Make Sure They Have Things To Do
In addition to all of their physical needs, keeping dogs’ brains active is just as important in keeping them happy and well-behaved. Younger dogs will need more engagement than adults, but just like people, dogs can get bored and restless without enough to occupy them.
Some options for keeping your dog busy include these:
- Interactive eating toys. Fill these with treats or peanut butter.
- If your dog likes a challenge, try some puzzle toys.
- Nylabone or naturally sourced antler chews can provide hours of activity.
- Some owners even give their dogs their own room. You can use anything from a box to a crate, and fill it with toys, a bed, and if they tend to get lonely, even leave a shirt that smells like you.
Don’t Forget The Food!
If you’re going to leave your dog alone for more than one feeding, there are several types of automatic dog feeders available and even “smart feeders” from companies such as Petnet.
It’s easy to either set these feeders for certain times and amounts of food you want to dispense or control them remotely with your phone.
One issue you might encounter is your dog refusing to eat without you close by. If your dog considers eating to be a social activity, it may require a bit of training before he or she is comfortable eating without you there.
In order to train your dog to feel comfortable eating alone, try filling their bowl and then stepping away for a few moments. Your dog may follow you at first, which you can discourage by blocking their view or hiding.
Over the course of several days, extend the amount of time that you leave for. Eventually, your dog will stop following you and stay focused on their food.
How A Dog Fence Can Help
One way to make sure your dog won’t be scratching or chewing on your furniture is to leave them outside of the house while you’re away.
The problem with this is that now you run the risk of them escaping, even when you’ve installed a fence. Bored and restless dogs will often tunnel beneath or climb over traditional fences.
On the other hand, wireless fences may be the solution to this problem. A wireless fence works similarly to a training collar, by administering a small but effective electric charge when your dog reaches the boundary line.
Rather than continuing to approach the fence, your dog will soon learn the boundaries and stay inside them without activating the collar.
Taking care of a dog can be a full-time job, but it shouldn’t keep you from living your life. Although we don’t recommend leaving your dog alone all the time, it’s inevitable that it will happen. When it does, you and your dog can be prepared with the simple tips we’ve given above.
Hopefully, you’ll both be able to enjoy yourselves without too much heartache and even if they’re comfortable alone, they’ll surely still be excited to see you return.