Do you feel guilty when you head out the door in the morning, knowing your dog will be alone while you’re at work? Or maybe you dread coming home at the end of your workday, wondering what dog-related disaster awaits.
Leaving your dog home alone does not make you a bad pet owner. Like most things, a little awareness and preparation can make these days easier on everyone. BEEVET Animal Hospital has some great ideas and tips to get you started!
Leaving Your Dog Home Alone
Most people want to make sure they are leaving their dog home alone only as long as the dog can go without a bathroom break. How long that is depends on the dog, but most adult dogs can go four to six hours without a potty break. Of course, sick pets, puppies, and senior dogs will need special consideration and may need more frequent bathroom breaks.
Practice Makes Better
Helping your dog to learn that being left at home is no big deal will go a long way toward success. Acclimate your dog to alone time with the following ideas:
- Leave your dog alone for the first time for only 1-2 minutes; gradually increase the time you are away once he’s completely relaxed while you’re gone.
- Give him a treat when you leave, but not when you return.
- Consider crate training him, so he has a safe, secure place to hang out when you leave.
- Greet him when you return home in a calm, matter of fact voice so he knows your leaving (and returning) is no big deal.
Important Note: These tips should be for dogs who exhibit no signs of separation anxiety. If your dog has separation anxiety or you’re not sure things are going well contact us for help. Separation anxiety rarely gets better on its own, and usually worsens with time.
A Busy Dog is a Happy Dog
Dogs were bred to work or be companions, so giving your dog a job is a good way to keep him mentally stimulated and out of trouble while you’re away. Here are a few tried and true options:
- Food puzzles that can keep your dog working for their food.
- A Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter can be a welcome pastime.
- Games like the Furbo and the Bob-A-Lot engage your dog and keep them occupied.
- Provide a crate, soft bed, and a quiet relaxing spot with a t-shirt that smells like you.
- A window to look out of can also give your dog something to do to pass the time.
Any toys left alone with your dog should be indestructible. You don’t want to risk them ingesting part of a toy, which can have dire consequences and possibly require emergency surgery.
Exercise matters! Most breeds need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, and hunting and sporting breeds need much, much, much more. Benefits of physical exercise for dogs include:
- Stimulating the mind
- Expelling excess energy
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding boredom
- Decreases undesirable behaviors
Aim for a 20-30 minute walk in the morning before you leave to release excess energy and help keep your dog better behaved and relaxed when you leave. A midday walk or playtime in the yard, and an evening romp at the dog park is a great stress reliever after you get home from work. For the both of you!
The Bottom Line
Leaving our dogs home alone is a reality for most of us. Each dog is different, but all dogs need and deserve potty breaks, mental stimulation and physical exercise. If you need help during the day, a professional dog walker, doggy day care, or boarding with BEEVET can be great solutions. And taking care of your dog’s needs during the day will make your homecoming a sweet time instead of a nightly surprise!
Call your team at BEEVET Animal Hospital for more information or if you have questions or concerns.