People who spend a lot of time away from home tend to opt for cats. While some cats are actually quite needy and dislike their humans being away for too long, most handle the separation just fine. Dogs, on the other hand, generally do not do well with being left alone.
While cats have retained much of their independence, dogs have become increasingly dependent on humans. This makes domesticated canines especially averse to being left alone at home. Dogs are social animals and it’s important to remember that.
How Well Do Dogs Handle Being Home Alone?
One study found that even when dogs are capable of fending for themselves, they won’t if they suspect a human is nearby to pick up the slack. This is one of the many reasons that leaving a dog at home can often be to their detriment. Of course, if a dog finds himself in a difficult situation, the survival instincts return that kept his ancestors safe in the wild. Until it gets to that point, however, Fido is unlikely to try to lift a paw.
This is not to say that dogs won’t do anything while you’re away. That dependence on human beings can make them antsy. When are you coming home? How long will you be away this time? Why aren’t you home yet? You’re usually home by now! These are some of the thoughts racing through some dogs’ minds even when you leave the house for a quick grocery run.
How do dogs handle this anxiety? Some dogs sleep it off and mope, but others can indulge in destructive behaviors. Tractive, a dog tracker manufacturer, identifies the following possibilities, most of which you are probably already familiar with:
- Binge eating
- Scratching and biting
- Chewing up clothes, furniture and other items
- Loud barking and howling
- Jumping the fence if there is yard access
How Long Is Too Long To Leave a Dog Alone?
How long a dog can go before anxiety and destructive behaviors set in really depends on the specific dog. People with huskies and legitimate wolf-mix breeds find that they often handle separation better than most other dogs do, but this is not always the case here either. Because of this, recommendations vary.
Young Dogs: Tractive believes that puppies should only be left alone for a maximum of two hours per day. In contrast, a vet told Reader’s Digest that you can leave a puppy at home alone in a crate for three to six consecutive hours at a time.
Adult Dogs: Adult dogs that have full run of the home can remain alone for eight to 10 hours. Crated dogs, on the other hand, should be let out of the crate every four hours or so to stretch their legs and get some exercise. Tractive sets the general limit for alone-time much lower at six hours.
Elderly Dogs: As dogs grow older, they have more health issues and may need more frequent bathroom breaks. Tractive sets the limit for the time spent home alone to two to six hours daily. The vet in the Reader’s Digest article recommends returning home in the middle of the workday to provide bathroom breaks.
What Makes Long Stretches Easier for Dogs?
Even if you typically spend a lot of time home with your dogs, there might be times when leaving them alone for long stretches of time becomes necessary. This may happen if you take on more overtime, visit a loved one in the hospital or plan an overnight trip they can’t join. Here are some ways to make it easier for them:
- Get a Roommate: If there is another dog lover in the home to interact with your pet, then technically, Fido is not alone. He’ll miss you, but the brief interactions with someone else help to tide him over.
- Use Technology: Some pet owners have installed cameras with two-way microphones and speakers. This allows them to talk to their pets and even listen to them. Your dog knows your voice and might appreciate hearing it throughout the day.
- Get Toys: Tech can play a role here too. Some people buy robots that move around and encourage the dog to chase it. Many deliver treats as well. Some dogs do just fine with regular toys. Both keep your dog active and reduce boredom and loneliness.
- Provide Yard Access: If possible, fence your yard and provide a doggie door so that your pet can relieve himself outside. This reduces the likelihood of accidents and gives room to roam. Remember to use tall fences for big dogs. Even well-behaved dogs might feel compelled to jump the fence if something smells yummy on the other side.
- Hire a Pet Sitter: Pet sitters can stop by to provide bathroom breaks for your dog and offer some companionship. If your dog has way too much energy, then consider scheduling hikes with dog walkers in Saugus so he can burn off that energy before you come home.
Most people who leave their dogs alone at home for long stretches of time rely on dog walkers and pet sitters to keep their animals entertained, healthy and safe. Would you like to hire Saugus pet sitters? Contact Dog Gon’ Good Time today.