Complete Guide to Leaving a Dog at Home Alone
Most dog parents often have to leave at one time or another to run certain errands or attend to work commitments for a couple of hours. Their pets are usually left at home alone during this period, which can be very demanding, even for grown dogs.
These dogs are social animals that enjoy spending their entire time with their owners. Learning to keep them comfortable while we are away will ensure that they do not exhibit destructive behavior.
What Happens When your Dog is Alone?
Have you heard your neighbor’s dog barking incessantly when nobody is home? Well, this is a sign of fear, separation anxiety, or boredom which may cause them to develop other unpleasant behaviors.
- Separation Anxiety: Dogs simply cannot understand why their owners would ever want to leave without them and for how long. They soon get worried and try to attract attention by exhibiting behaviors like howling, barking, and scratching especially at the home entrance. These behaviors may continue for the entire duration of your absence which may start to annoy your neighbors.
- Boredom: Due to the ability of dogs to form social bonds with humans as well as other canines, it is easy for them to become bored when they are alone. Boredom from being alone can cause dogs to start chewing on household furniture and clothes, digging, or trying to escape. If your pooch manages to escape, having a collar with a name tag, microchip, or GPS tracker will ensure that they are found easily.
How to Keep Your Dog Comfortable While You Are Away?
Puppies may be able to stay alone for 2 hours a day since their bladder is not fully developed and would need to pee more often. They tend to easily develop separation anxiety since they are used to having their owners around.
Adult dogs that have exceeded 18 months are able to stay alone for up to 6 hours, as their organs are fully developed. They would have developed coping mechanisms that make it possible for them to get by on their own without getting bored until you return. As these canines get older, some of them tend to suffer certain health issues that would require extra care and attention from their owners.
Here are a few tips to help your pooch stay comfortable while you're away:
#1 Create a Pet-friendly Space
Making your home pet-friendly will go a long way in ensuring that they feel safe even in your absence. Pulling the curtain up before you leave to give them a view of the outdoor environment from the window would work for those living in small apartments in cities. If you own a backyard, making it easily accessible will ensure that they have enough room to play and tire themselves out.
#2 Good Water Source
Most people use standard food and water bowls that are usually made of plastic because they are durable and easy to clean. The problem of accidental spillage is the reason why you should endeavor to get a non-spill bowl that can store enough fresh water to keep your dog hydrated. One with a reservoir that can store and automatically dispense up to 2 liters of clean water is ideal for a single pooch.
#3 Dog Potty Spot
Although adult dogs can hold their pee for long hours, having a potty spot in your home ensures that you do not have to panic if something keeps you away for over 6 hours. It is recommended that puppy or senior dog parents should make potty spots available for their pets to ensure that they can pee or poop when they need to.
Potty training is also important to ensure that the dog relieves itself appropriately, whether you are using an artificial grass pad or any other indoor potty pad.
Some dogs tend to sleep when they are alone at home while others make frantic efforts to draw attention to themselves. This is why having pet toys in your home is necessary to keep them occupied while you are away. These toys should contain treats that can keep it fed until you return, as compared to placing food in the bowl which the dog may eat up at one go.
Chew toys like stuffed kongs are also great for dogs due to dental health benefits and stress relief from the chewing action. Puzzle toys and scenting games are good for stimulating the brain of your dog and they get rewarded with treats while they play. Your dog tries to solve puzzles or sniff out goodies that are hidden in strategic places, thus keeping it occupied until you return.
Extra Tips for New Dog Parents
Training your dog to be less dependent on you for comfort while they are young is key to ensuring that they can get by on their own whenever you have to attend to other duties away from home.
It is usually challenging for new dog parents when they have to leave their pets at home alone for hours, hence the need to perform the following three (3) steps:
Get a dog crate which is cozy and the ideal size for your dog. Placing your dog in the crate for a couple of minutes while you are there will help them relax and familiarize themselves with it. It should contain treats, toys, and water to ensure that your canine is comfortable.
Practice leaving your dog alone in the crate while you are not present in the room. They would soon get used to playing on their own without fully depending on you.
As you keep leaving, you should try staying away for a longer duration. Avoid saying long goodbyes to ensure that your dog does not get the wrong message.
In recent years, it has become possible to get dog walkers and pet sitters from online platforms like Rover that can assist you in keeping your pooch happy while you are away. A good dog parent should be able to devote a certain amount of time to these pets to ensure that they are in top shape. Play with them and ensure that they get enough exercise to expend energy and prevent boredom that eventually leads to destructive behaviors.