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Leaving My Dog Alone

Have you started a new job? Or perhaps you are going on holiday and are not able to take your dog with you. Whatever the reason, there will always be a time when you might need to leave your dog home alone.

Luckily, while dogs are social animals that need the love and company of humans and other four-legged friends, they can also enjoy time by themselves.

The good news is that all it takes is some training and preparation. Your dog will learn to handle, and even enjoy, his time alone. Here are some guidelines and tips to help keep your dog comfortable while you’re not home.

How to leave your puppy or dog alone

Preparation is the key to leaving your dog alone.

Ensure he has safe access to an outdoor area where he can go to the toilet, and never leave him alone for more than eight hours without someone coming to check on him.

If your dog is used to your constant company, start preparing him for your upcoming absence by giving him small periods of time alone. Provide him with an enriching environment and, with some positive reinforcement, he will learn to be by himself and to enjoy the experience.

Tips on training your dog to be alone

There are a number of things you can do to gradually get your dog used to being alone. And the sooner you start training him the better.

  • Socialise your puppy / dog early on. Help him to get used to being around other people right from the start. It will be much easier to leave him with a dog sitter or family and friends if needed later on.
  • From day one, especially for a puppy, try not to constantly pet or interact with him. Leave him on his own from time to time.
  • Alternate times where you pay him attention and times when you don’t. If you have children, explain to them that a puppy needs alone time too.
  • Never start by leaving your puppy / dog for a long time alone. This should be a gradual process. Start with very short absences and only move up to a longer absence once your dog can remain calm for the shorter one. If he relapses into being overly excited or is unable to remain calm when you leave, start the process over again.
  • Start at home: If your dog is used to always being in the same room with you or following you around, try asking him to stay while you leave the room for a short time. Reward him when he is able to do this calmly. If your dog can tolerate this exercise, try leaving the house briefly and then come back.
  • Do not linger over saying goodbye to your dog, and avoid making a fuss over him or being too affectionate when you return. The idea is for him to feel that your leaving and return is a normal experience.
  • Some trainers recommend leaving the house without letting your dog know that you are leaving. In other words, come and go without paying attention to him, several times a day. Prepare to leave (get your coat, take your keys, etc.) and then don’t leave, leave without any preparations in order to prevent your dog from worrying about you leaving.

If you intend to leave for more than a very short time, take him out for a walk or other form of physical activity before you go. He will feel more relaxed while you are away. He might even probably sleep.

Perfect Fit tips to prepare your dog to stay alone at home


Tips on providing an enriching, dog-friendly environment

There are a number of things you can do to improve your dog’s environment, make him feel more comfortable and prevent boredom.

  • Keep a special bag of dog toys that you take out only when you plan to be away. This way your dog will associate you leaving with something fun and positive! There are many great dog toys including toys that can be filled with a dry dog food that your dog will have to work to get out, puzzle toys and more.
  • Timeless tips: Leave the TV or radio on low volume to mask outdoor street noise that could startle your dog.
  • Refreshing sleep: essential for great games. Make sure your dog has a comfortable bed where he can rest and relax. If he is a puppy you may provide him with a favourite sleeping item for comfort.

How long can I leave my puppy /dog alone?

Each dog is different and will experience being alone differently depending on his individual personality. Your dog may be quite independent and not mind being alone for a few hours, while other dogs may at least initially find the experience difficult. However, properly socialized, any dog can handle a few hours' absence. If, despite that, your dog has difficulty staying alone, do not hesitate to talk to your veterinarian or an experienced, skilled dog trainer or behaviour specialist. He will help you to identify the root of the problem and to find suitable solutions.

Your dog’s age and lifestyle will also determine to some extent how long he can stay alone. For instance, even very young puppies maybe left alone for a couple of hours (with their mother ideally). Your puppy will gradually learn how to settle down and to occupy himself alone. When it comes to adult dogs, most can learn how to be left up to four or five hours alone, with the proper training and environment.

However, sometimes we have to leave our canine friends for a longer period. If you are gone from early morning to evening and do not have the opportunity to drop in at lunch, it would be great to have a neighbour, friend, or dog sitter drop in to play with your dog and check on him. She or he can take him for a walk, allow him a toilet break, and check that he has fresh water. Your dog will also greatly benefit from this social interaction. If you are planning on leaving your dog overnight or for two days or more, we strongly recommend in-home pet sitting or boarding with a host-family. When back, it is important to take time to play and interact with your puppy/dog to have fun and relax with him.

Leaving your dog alone can be a positive experience for him and you, provided that you think carefully about how long you intend to leave him and prepare him well in advance for the experience. For shorter absences, your dog should be fine alone at home with the proper training and an enriched environment. He might even grow to enjoy this time thanks to his special ‘alone time’ toys! Nevertheless, keep in mind that dogs are and always will be social animals. The best toy in the world can’t replace your company or engagement with another animal or dog. For longer absences, be sure to consider the many dog care options available today including the adoption of another pet (this will require time and adaptation), to ensure that your dog is happy and well while you are away!



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