One is the loneliest number – a fact any pooch can tell you!
Your dog would love to spend 24/7 with you, but the truth is that many of us need to spend large parts of the day working in an office or out and about while running errands. And while some humans treasure alone time, most of our dogs despise it.
However, there are some simple things you can do when leaving your dog home alone that can make their lives a little easier:
Five Tips for Leaving Your Dog Alone: Key Takeaways
- Leaving your dog alone can be quite a challenge. Not only is it no fun for you to be away from your pet, but your pet probably won’t love the idea of being alone all the time. In some cases, excess alone time can contribute to health and behavioral problems.
- Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help your dog cope with alone time. Things like wearing your dog out before you leave, providing him with interactive toys, and — in some cases — adding another dog to the home can all make things easier on your pooch.
- If you have to leave your dog alone for really long times (more than 8 hours), you may want to hire a pet sitter. A sitter will keep your dog company, and it isn’t as expensive as you may think — one company even allows you to book sitters for free (after paying a small monthly fee).
1. Wear Out Your Woofer
Before leaving your dog home alone all day, get your pooch nice and tired by taking him for a long walk or run (you may even want to take him on a canicross adventure).
Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog. You know that happy feeling you get from endorphins after exercise? Your dog probably enjoys the same feeling too!
So, before you head off to work tomorrow, try to set aside some time to take your pooch on a long walk or sniffari. The length of time you should spend walking your dog will vary, but generally speaking, something in the neighborhood of a half-hour is a good starting point for healthy adults.
Need some other ideas for tuckering out your terrier? Try some of these fun activities with your four-footer:
- Set your dog up with some exercise equipment
- Try out treibball with your pup
- Learn some fun indoor exercises your pooch will like
- Try urban mushing to harness your pet’s inner sled dog
- Make a DIY agility course
- Use a flirt pole with your four-footer
2. Hire a Dog Walker
Just because you’re not home that doesn’t mean your dog can’t still get out for a little exercise and stimulation! You can simply hire a dog walker to take your pooch for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood.
Not only will a dog walker get your pooch some much-deserved (and needed) exercise during the middle of the day, it also means Fido will get a much-appreciated bathroom break while you’re gone.
Best of all, while owners formerly needed to rely on teenagers or friendly neighbors to walk their dog during the day, this isn’t necessary anymore. There are a variety of dog walking businesses that give you the chance to have a true professional take your pooch out for a stroll.
Just make sure that you discuss any health or behavioral issues your pooch has with the walker first.
By doing so, you will help ensure your doggo stays safe and doesn’t cause any unanticipated challenges for the walker.
3. Get Another Dog
Because dogs are social animals, adding a second dog to your pack can sometimes help keep your dog stimulated, entertained, and less likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
However, this won’t always be a solution – everyone’s situation is different and not all dogs will appreciate (or even tolerate) a new canine addition to the pack. You need to consider the breed, gender, training, and temperament of the second dog, and even taking all that into consideration, it may still not get along with your original dog.
Then you’ll have a major pooch crisis on your hands — times two!
So, while a second dog is sometimes very helpful for you and your current pooch, you should always consider the proposition of adding a second dog very carefully before jumping in with both paws — er, feet.
4. Use Toys to Prevent Bordem
A lot of negative dog behavior that happens when leaving your dog home alone for the day stems from the fact that your dog is just plain bored. The same applies to children – it’s the times when you aren’t keeping them occupied that they are most likely to cause trouble.
Fortunately, there’s a solution — dog toys provide a great way to keep your dog happy and occupied while he’s alone. The best dog toys will challenge your canine friend and keep him occupied all day.
Toys with food inside of them or other types of interactive toys are generally the best for such situations. And if your dog gets bored with new toys quickly, consider joining a monthly subscription box service such as BarkBox — that way, you’ll have new toys for him to chomp, chew, and destroy on a regular basis.
You might also want to think about giving your dog chew treats that will take them a significant amount of time to chew, such as bully sticks.
Just use caution when doing so — you don’t want your pup to choke or hurt his mouth while you’re away. Accordingly, it is wise to give your dog long-lasting dog chews under careful supervision the first few times to make sure he consumes them slowly and doesn’t experience any problems.
Just remember that — chew or no chew — dogs should always have access to water throughout the day. And if you aren’t around to change your dog’s water periodically, consider an automatic dog waterer to keep water flowing and fresh.
5. Consider What Kind of Dog to Get When You’ll be Gone All Day
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that not all lifestyles lend themselves to owning a dog.
So, before you add a four-footer to your life, be sure to think about your daily life, the amount of time and resources a dog will require, and how much work, school, and other obligations keep you away from your home.
It’s also important to keep in mind how your life may have to change once you get a new dog.
You’ll have to go straight home after work, and you’ll have to make plans for your dog when you go on vacation or even stay somewhere else overnight. It’s a huge lifestyle change with a ton of added responsibility.
That being said, if you know you’ll be spending large chunks of the day away from home, keep that in mind when choosing a dog. Simply put, some dogs are better suited for spending long periods of time alone than others.
Consider looking at lower energy breeds who’re known for having a calm, undemanding demeanor. Also, give some thought to selecting a self-sufficient doggo or some other low-maintenance breed, who won’t miss you quite as much as some of the most loyal, people-centered dogs may.
It may also be wise to consider adopting an older dog. Older dogs have a ton of love to give, but don’t tend to be as energetic as puppies, so they usually don’t mind taking it easy and relaxing when home alone. Plus they’re already house trained! An older dog may definitely be the way to go if you spend all day at work.
Going to Be Away for a While? Consider a Pet Sitter
From time to time, you may need to be away from the house for longer than a typical day at work or school. You may need to go on a business trip or perhaps enjoy a weekend getaway with a loved one.
Obviously, your pooch would prefer if you just let him tag along, but this isn’t always possible. And as many dog owners already know, there aren’t a ton of great options in these types of scenarios.
You can consider boarding your dog at a kennel, but that means your poor pooch will have to go to an unfamiliar place and spend several days surrounded by new, potentially frightening sights and smells. Some dogs take kennel stays in stride, but others can feel pretty traumatized during these experiences.
Fortunately, there is another great option: Let your pooch stay in your house and just have a pet sitter come hang out with him. This way, he’ll not only get to remain in the comfy confines of his home, he’ll get to make a new friend too.
Many pet owners are reluctant to hire a pet sitter because they fear that doing so would be cost prohibitive. Fortunately, there’s a very affordable way to get someone to sit with Spot while you’re gone: Trusted Housesitters.
In a nutshell, Trusted Housesitters is a match-making service, which pairs people in need of a dog or house sitter with people who like hanging out with pets. All of the sitters are thoroughly screened to provide a safe experience, and the Trusted Housesitters website is both simple and easy to use.
Best of all, you don’t have to pay these pet sitters for their services. In fact, you aren’t allowed to offer them money.
Instead, you pay a small monthly fee to set up an account with the company. After doing so, you can use their service to your heart’s content! You get unlimited bookings for your monthly payment.
Heading out of town every weekend? No problemo! Only need a dog sitter once in a blue moon? That’s OK too! The beauty of this service is that it’ll work in just about any situation.
You can go and start browsing the available sitters for free right now — you only need to break out the credit card to book someone.
What’s the Longest Time I Can Leave My Dog Alone?
Most authorities agree that 8 hours is the maximum length of time you should ever leave a dog alone.
Forcing a dog to hang out all alone for longer than this may cause both physical and emotional discomfort. It may also lead to behavioral problems over the longterm.
And for clarity: This is only for adult dogs — puppies shouldn’t be left for more than 2 to 4 hours at a time. Not only will they need bathroom breaks more often than this, but they also need lots of human interaction while developing a bond with their people.
Senior canines with bladder issues may also need to be checked in on more frequently too.
Leaving the house while leaving your sidekick behind is certainly never fun, but it is just necessary from time to time. So, give some thought to the recommendations provided above and brainstorm for other ways to make your absences easier on your pooch.
Have you figured out a good way to keep your pooch occupied and happy while you’re gone? Share your ideas in the comments below!