For most of us, leaving our dogs at home is necessary for at least some part of the day. Whether you work a 9-5, have a busy young family, or work for yourself, we need to ensure that our dogs aren’t left out of the plan when it comes to managing your working week.
How long is it ok to leave my dog for?
There is no hard and fast rule here. We’d recommend that an adult dog is never left alone for more than 4 hours in one go. Puppies will need to toilet more frequently initially so cannot be left as long. We also need to take it slow in teaching our young puppies that spending time alone is ok.
How do I know if my dog is ok being left alone?
It can be really hard for us owners, going off and leaving our dogs home alone – worrying if they are ok and what they might be up to. For our dogs, as highly social animals, it can be equally as stressful – and for some dogs highly traumatic – to be left alone. We recently provided some tips for helping dogs who suffer from separation anxiety which is well worth a read if you are concerned your dog might be stressed when left alone.
How do I keep my dog entertained while I’m at work?
Most dogs can learn to enjoy solo time – or cope with it comfortably until your return. So let’s have a look at some of the activities that can help your dog entertained while you’re at work.
– Break up their day
Utilising a dog walker, pet sitter, family, or friends to spend some time part way through your working day can give your dog some much needed social interaction to break up their alone time. Dog Daycare environments can work for some dogs – but for some, it can be way too much stimulation. This can result in them learning to be hyper around other dogs, as well as preventing them from getting that all-important sleep they need each day.
– Add calm scents
To help your dog feel relaxed you can add some Valerian Compound for Dogs onto their blanket or bedding. Adding in calm scents for our dogs can really help their mood state. While this anxiety remedy for our dogs can comfort them, if you feel your dog is highly anxious or hyperactive when left please speak to your vet and a force-free behaviourist.
– Appropriate Chewing, Licking, or Sniffing Opportunities
Leaving your dog with something tasty to eat can allow them to feel happier about you heading out without them. Chews, Lickimats or food scatters, all allow our dogs to engage in a calm activity – which can promote happy hormones in the brain, dampening any feelings of stress. These activities also give them a little mental workout so they’re left ready for a nap. Just make sure anything you leave your dog with isn’t a choking hazard or something they might swallow.
In an ideal world, when we leave our dogs home alone they would spend their time sleeping. As our dogs get about half as much of the deep, regenerative period of sleep than we do, they require a lot more sleep than us. Aim for your dogs to be sleeping about 12-16 hours a day (more for puppies) and you’ll have a more relaxed dog on your hands. Giving your dog a calm walk before you leave them may mean they fall to sleep much more readily when you go.
By providing the right environment for an anxiety-free period of being home alone, you will be doing the best you can to keep your pet content.
Caroline Wilkinson is the Head Trainer at Barket Place, providers of supportive online dog training for pet parents. She is a Certified Animal Behaviourist and Registered Animal Training Instructor. Caroline has a passion for improving connections between human and hound, with a focus on relationships and the reduction of stress for canines living in a human world.