Dogs don’t like to be alone since they don’t have that inherited habit to be separated from the “pack.” You’ve probably noticed that wandering dogs rarely walk alone, and pet dogs prefer to be with the owners who love and take care of them. They even enjoy the company of another dog.
Temporary removal from the pack is some kind of a discipline measure that mother dogs use to keep order in the litter. Our pets just have that social instinct “written” in the genes. They consider every separation from their owner very dangerous, and they think of it as punishment.
As much as we like to spend time with our puppies, in the life of every dog, there is a situation when they have to stay alone at home. Our way of life means that we have to move, leave the house, go to work and interact with other people. Depending on how busy we are, a dog can be alone for just a few minutes, or several hours, or even a couple of days.
Leaving Shouldn’t Be a Problem
The discomfort that separation from the owner causes in dogs can be big trouble if you didn’t approach it on time and in the right way. Except for your loving pet, it can be a problem for you and your property. Barking, squealing, scratching the doors and walls, and chewing random things are just some of the symptoms of intensified activities of your pet, which it does whenever feeling lonely.
You have to prove to your pup that you wouldn’t leave it forever because you are always coming back home. As a responsible dog owner, you agree that long-term leaving, especially without monitoring, should not be a common thing. However, sometimes you just have no choice.
No one can tell you exactly how long your dog can be alone. It depends on many factors like breed, ages, whether you have more pets or just one, but also from the way you train them from the puppy age. You should love your dog, but you definitely shouldn’t spoil it.
Get Use Your Dog from an Early Age
No matter where and how we live, your pet needs to get used to loneliness from an early age. Given that dogs are intellectually inferior than human beings, it will take a bit more time and patience. As soon as you get a dog, if possible, take a couple of days off and spend time with the newbie. Apart from getting used to each other, during this period your dog can get to know the environment and learn to relieve outside.
Dogs don’t have the sense for the time like we do. They “measure” it by what they were doing. How many times they ate, slept, and played. You may have noticed that your pup is looking forward to your return from the store as if it did not see you for months. They know one thing for sure – you miss them as soon as you walk out of the house.
Pay Attention to Dog’s Behavior
You might think at first “Aw, how cute,” when your pup squeals from time to time because you are not around. Even if you have gone to the toilet for a few minutes. If you ignore this initial sign, after a while, it won’t be cute anymore. An adult dog, who barks every day, bites the furniture, tears a carpet, and so on, can bring many problems.
At this stage, this behavior is not funny either to you or your neighbors and that’s least funny to the dog. It can escalate into depression and self-destructiveness. If you failed in training from the start, maybe it’s still not too late, if you ask for a professional help.
Don’t Let Your Pup Sleep in Your Bed
Although there are many good things in sharing beds with a dog, if we look at this in long-term, it’s not a good habit. Maybe we enjoy tucking in by our pup and feel safe and relaxed, but this is how we actually spoil them. Spending so much time with us, the dog creates a (pathological) habit of being nearby 24/7.
We can’t always prevent a dog to follow us, but we can stop this behavior from the beginning. Simply, the dog should have its own sleeping place from an early age. It shouldn’t even have to be in your bedroom. A cozy corner in the hallway, just for your pup, would be just fine.
A dog is hard to change its habits, and if it only spends a month with you in bed, get ready for a life-long scratch on the door and begging to get inside the room. And just imagine what can happen if your spoiled pet doesn’t find you in the bed?
Meet All Their Needs before You Go Out
You can’t explain to your dog that you are back in ten minutes. As we already explained how dogs measure time, you shouldn’t leave your pet alone if all physiological needs are not met. Feed it, wait a couple of minutes to go outside, and fetch two or three times. That should keep your pet still for a while.
Also, make sure to remove all the things that your pup could destroy and which are possibly dangerous, like cables or chargers. If you can, close it to separate room or hallway, until you come home, but leave all the necessary things.
Leave your dog some toy, which it cannot break or swallow. Never give it a bone or raw meat. Instead, buy your pet a gadget where you can put treats that drop out while playing. Prepare a bowl of fresh water and a blanket or doggy bed. Puppy can’t endure for a long time, so there is a possibility of tinkles here and there. So it’s better to remove carpets and similar things.
Convince Your Dog that You’ll Be Back
Dogs don’t like uncertainty. Therefore, think of the routine that you will do each time before leaving your canine alone. This way, your pet will be aware that you’re going somewhere, but more importantly, it will know that you’ll return.
Do all required activities with your dog before you go. It will be much easier if you are away for a couple of hours, instead of leaving a hyperactive pup. Show your pet its place, and talk to it. It may seem strange, but, although dogs do not understand what you are saying, your voice will calm down your canine.
Give your pet a toy and say that you are going now, but you’ll be back soon. Do not cuddle it too much; be gentle, but decisive. While your pet is still a puppy, you can learn it a specific command, to remember it means you’re leaving and coming.
Act as Usual when You Get Back Home
After you have pleased your dog’s needs, go out quietly. The same way you should enter the house when you come back. Don’t look for your loving pet as soon as you walk in. Get inside without ceremony, calmly cuddle your pet and after you change, go outside to play a while.
The dog needs to understand that it’s nice that you came home but that your departure and return is nothing special. The ritual you establish does not need to disturb your pet in advance, but to calm it down. Your walkout and coming home have to pass as less noticed as possible.
Ask for Help when It’s Necessary
If they get a bad habit of being aggressive and destructive when you’re not at home, dogs can develop some psychosis. If you can’t devote enough time to this problem, it may be better to seek professional help from therapists and trainers.
When you know that you will be away for a few days, consider the dog daycare, or guest house, or ask for a friend to look after your pet. Or at least charge someone to visit your pup several times a day, to check for water, food, and to let it out.
For this purpose, you can also hire a dog sitter, who will spend a few hours a day with your pet. Of course, it’s of great importance that your pet got used to your occasional absence.
A dog, that is well-trained to stay alone, can be without supervision for a few hours, with no problems. We all know it’s not a great idea to leave them all they long, but the job and all other obligations take us time, and we can’t change that.
So spend some quality time with your pet whenever you can. The positive side is that dogs rest a lot, and when you exhaust them, they can sleep most of the day.