We know you'd love to stay home and snuggle with your dog all day but it's just not possible to be home all of the time. After all, you have work, school, and errands to take care of. So, how long can you leave your dog alone, and what they will get up to while you are gone? Our Holland Veterinary Hospitals vets explain and provide options for when you have to be gone for long periods.
How Long Can You Leave a Dog Home Alone?
You have a busy life filled with responsibilities and things that need to get done, so as much as you love your dog you just can't be home with them all the time. So, you are probably wondering just how long can you leave a dog home alone?
Frankly, there's just no one size fits all answer, it depends on your dog's age, breed, and overall personality. Young puppies under 6 months old should not be left alone for more than 2 or 3 hours because of their bladder control and risk of separation anxiety. When you do 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 or get into too much trouble.
As your puppy gets older gradually increases the total amount of time you leave them alone. Adult dogs are generally okay on their own 4-6 hours a day. But, 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.
What Will My Dog Do While I'm Away?
If you have a dog with a calm personality, while you're gone your dog 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. Less relaxed dogs might be a bit more mischievous - jumping up on the counter to steal a treat or chew on an item they normally aren't allowed to.
Unfortunately, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety they may channel their anxious energy into destructive behavior, ruining furniture or breaking precious valuables. If your dog 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, it should be able to manage 8 hours on its own.
The Basset Hound, French Bulldog, Chihuahua, and Pugs are some of the breeds that are best at being left alone for long periods.
What Can I Do With My Dog While I am at Work?
While some dogs are fine being alone for a little bit during the day, they don't necessarily like it. Dogs are pack animals and need companionship from their owners to be happy and comfortable. 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 dog has had plenty of exercises! A tired dog is typically a well-behaved dog. The amount of exercise dogs needs each day varies widely so be sure to ask your vet or breeder for advice 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 leave make sure your dog has a toy to keep them busy and occupied while you are away, such as their favorite stuffed animal or a puzzle toy to provide them with a fun challenge.
Communicate With Them Via Tech
You can stay in touch with your dog even when you are not home thanks to technology. Pet cameras let you talk to your canine companion so you can soothe your dog with your calming voice, or even keep an eye on their behavior so you can reward them with lots of yummy treats.
Help Them Feel Safe
Offer your dog a sense of security or safety by swaddling them in a jacket or keeping them in their crate with enough space to move around and play. Your dog might be hesitant at first but, it can be a lifesaver in the long run.
Doggy Day Care
If your dog doesn't like being left alone, or you are going to be away longer than 8 hours, you can bring your dog 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.