Leaving Your Dog Home Alone: Steps to Follow

A dog is splayed out in the entry way of its home, looking out the glass door

As our best friends, it’s no wonder we want to take our dogs with us everywhere we go. And in this day and age, it’s nearly possible! Still, there are some times when we have to leave our dog home alone, sometimes for longer than we’d like.

So what’s a dog owner to do? 

Luckily, there are ways to leave your best friend at home responsibly, without returning to chewed up shoes and stains on the carpet. Come alone with Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital as we show you steps to follow for safely leaving your dog home alone. 

Bladder Control

The practical questions most dog owners ask first is, how long can my dog go without a bathroom break? Most adult dogs need to go outside every 4 to 6 hours. Puppies, sick pets, and older dogs need to go out much more often. 

Your dog’s physical needs and what she is used to determines how long she can stay at home alone. Set a routine for your best friend that works for you both. Try letting her out right before you leave, and first thing upon your return. 

Other Needs

Every dog needs daily exercise, and how much depends on their age, breed, and physical fitness. If you can help your dog release energy before you leave, he may be more likely to curl up for a nap while you’re gone instead of looking for trouble. Try starting your day with a 20 to 30 minute walk. Benefits of exercise include: 

  • Expels excess energy
  • Lubricates joints
  • Maintains weight
  • Stimulates the mind
  • Aids digestion

When you get home, take your dog out for another 30 minutes of exercise. Another walk, a fast game of fetch, or any other activity you both enjoy will be beneficial for your dog’s mental and physical health, not to mention your bond together. 

Every dog should be able to be left alone without destroying the house or falling apart. If this is happening, your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety. This condition rarely gets better on it’s own, and often worsens with time. Call us so that we can get you and your dog on the right path with a behavioral consultation. 

Dog Home Alone: Ways to Improve Their Time Alone

Dogs are social creatures, and can feel isolated and bored when left alone for long hours, day after day, Help your dog feel more satisfied and give yourself some peace of mind, too, with these tips. 

  • Hire a dog walker. Even a day or two per week can make a difference.
  • Board your dog with us during the day. Doggy day care can give her social interaction and exercise during the day while you’re gone. 
  • Create a secure and safe space in your home for your dog. A space with her bed, toys, and treats will go a long way toward her comfort. 
  • Although some dogs are crate trained, most agree that crating a dog all day is too long. By all means, leave the crate open so she can go in if she wishes.
  • Feed your dog in a puzzle feeder or other interactive toy.
  • Leave a Kong with peanut butter or other delectable treat inside.
  • Leave on the TV or radio.
  • Get another dog (only works if this fits into your lifestyle and they get along).
  • Come home for lunch.
  • Take your dog to work with you.
  • Arrange for a neighbor or friend to come over and visit your dog at midday.
  • Work from home on occasion.

The Bottom Line

Every dog is an individual, but they all need daily social interaction, exercise, and bathroom breaks at reasonable intervals. Before adopting a dog, remember that it’s a lifelong commitment. Working full time and owning a dog is doable, you just have to get creative to ensure their needs are being met. 

Make sure any toys your leave alone with your dog are indestructible. You don’t want your dog tearing apart a toy and ingesting the pieces. Doing so could result in a foreign body and emergency surgery. As well, never leave your dog tied up. The risk of injury and strangulation death is all too real. 

If you would like more ideas on leaving your dog home alone successfully, or you have other questions, please reach out to our team. We’re here to help! 

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