We often feel burdened with the guilt of leaving our dogs alone at home for hours. As pet owners, we are well aware that dogs are social animals. They are wired to spending time with us. It doesn’t matter whether we’re watching a movie or listening to music. They always love being around us. And that’s the reason why we call them our furry best friends.
However, it’s not always possible for us to spend time with our furry friends. We have to go to work or run some errands so it becomes quite difficult to be with them at all times. Leaving them all alone at home is something we don’t want to do but we are often left with no other option.
Read ahead to know how you can keep your canine happy even when you’re not around:
For How Long are They Going to be Alone?
How long is too long? Some say half an hour is too long already, while others might say “Oh! I know my pup. He’s going to be alright.” For the happiness of your dog, we’d suggest you to not keep them alone in the house for too long. By too long, we mean, adult dogs aged over 18 months. These dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 – 6 hours a day. And for small puppies, a maximum of two hours a day could be your limit!
Staying Alone Can be Quite Stressful for Dogs at Times
While you’re busy at an eight-hour work shift a day, followed by running errands and evening plans, it is quite possible that your dog stays at home alone for about 10 – 12 hours a day on a regular basis. Dogs are normally left alone for long hours without a second thought. You might be thinking that as long as they have food and water, they are secure and all set. Here’s the thing, 12 hours is too long for your dog to be all by themselves in a day.
Now you might say that “I’ve done that a couple of times before and my dog seems to be doing just fine!” This means that your dog has just learned how to cope up with something that is completely out of their control. Staying alone for long hours is not something that they would’ve chosen if they had an option. Luckily, our dogs adapt really well to almost everything we want them to.
How About Crating my Dog When I’m Out?
Crate training a puppy can be quite difficult at times. According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), crate training might start off slow but it’s a very essential part of their training. There is a time limit set for your dog to see for how long they can stay in the crate and be comfortable in it. The age and duration for how long a puppy can be kept inside a crate are detailed below:
- 8 – 10 weeks old: 30 – 60 minutes maximum
- 11 – 14 weeks old: 1 – 3 hours maximum
- 15 – 16 weeks old: 3 – 4 hours maximum
- 17 + weeks old: 4 -5 hours maximum (but please don’t resort to this very often)
So as your pets get older, they can be kept in the crate longer. But do you think it will be wise to do so? We would obviously suggest you to use this as a short-time solution. However, it is also extremely necessary for your dogs to do a lot of physical exercise and human interaction, and keeping them alone for long hours prevents them from doing so. Head over to our review of the best dog crates for more options.
How to Minimize Their Alone Time
Here is a few ways you can use to avoid leaving your dog all alone for long hours at home. Although it is quite hard to make this work, you can always be creative and look for other possible options afterwards if these don’t work out.
- Doggo daycare
Dog Daycare centers tend to offer you everything for your dog that no one else can. Whether you enroll your dog for just a day or two, it leaves you with 3 – 4 days more to go to cover your work week. If your dog is fond of the company of other dogs, they will surely like going to a dog daycare. It’s all about meeting their social and physical needs at the end of the day. It is important, to make sure if the care center is well maintained and has all the facilities required for your dog. Don’t forget to check if they maintain proper hygiene because your dog will be spending quite a lot of time there while you’re away. Make sure they have well-trained and experienced staff members so that your dog is treated with proper love and care throughout the day. Also, keep it in mind that dog daycare centers are not eligible for young pups if you have one.
- Put on the radio or your music system
Believe it or not but dogs are HUGE fans of music and radio! In fact, that’s what keeps them going. Since someone over the radio is always talking, it will stimulate them to believe that their hooman is talking to them even though they are far away. Plus, they just love music! So that’s never going to keep them bored. Just in case you’re wondering what kind of music your dog likes to listen to, you can try creating a playlist of Bob Marley or Beethoven. You’ll instantly see the change in their behavior once you return home.
- Get them another companion
Dogs being social creatures, love the companionship of another dog (please ensure that they get along with each other before bringing another one in the house). They can socialize and play throughout the day while you’re busy at work. When the two become a pair, you don’t need to worry about anything anymore.
- Employ a dog walker
There are so many dog lovers out there, who would love to take your dog out for a walk on a regular basis. Many reputable pet care facilities also provide this service. If you’re the type of a pet parent who has to work for long hours and does not have the time to take your dog out for a walk or any other physical activity, then it is highly advisable for you to use this service. This will ensure that your dog’s need for physical and mental exercise is met.
More Toys, Less Destruction
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of toys for dogs in the market. Is there a certain type of toy that your pet dog loves playing with? If so, get them a few of those toys which will keep them busy throughout the day. However, most experts suggest a Kong. This stimulates your dog’s curiosity and intellect. Trying to get the food from inside the Kong is super challenging and fun for your dog. It’s completely safe and risk-free to leave your pet with one of these in the house.
Ensure that your dog has fun ways to engage his time! The best way to keep your dog busy during his alone time is to use food-dispensing toys. These toys can avoid undesirable boredom behavior, like scratching, biting or peeing in inappropriate areas. But do keep in mind, to not leave your furry friend alone with a toy which can be either chewed apart or swallowed. Head over to our review of dog toys and interactive dog toys for more choices.
Exercise is Still the Key!
Your dog needs a lot of exercise during the day. It’s not only because it helps them to stay healthy, digest their meals faster, stimulate their cognizance, and burn calories, but it also avoids boredom. They will not be induced to any unpleasant behavior if they are no longer bored.
Regular physical exercise of a dog depends on its breed. However, every pup needs to burn off that ‘energy’. Before you go for work every day, you can take them out for a walk which will help both of you to stay fit. It’s not just about physical exercise; it has a lot to do with the mental activity that will help to keep your pup happy, healthy, and well-behaved. Note that small puppies and young dogs need more enrichment than adult dogs. Offer them to play fetch and other indoor games whenever you’re around. Balance out the time that they spend alone when you’re not around. Check out our guide on dog ball launchers for more info.
Getting a dog can be very exciting at first but know that it comes with a lot of responsibilities. You need to adjust your routine and take care of your pup’s needs. Leaving your dog alone might not be dangerous, but you wouldn’t want to come back home to some destruction, right? What is the longest period of time that you have left your dog alone in the house? How did you manage? Do let us know in the comment section below, we’d love to know!