Most of us don’t have the luxury of being a stay-at-home dog mom.
But we still want to give our fur babies the best days—even if we’re not there. From entertainment to bathroom breaks and making sure she doesn’t destroy your house, we got you covered!
In this post, we’re discussing tips for leaving your dog at home.
How Long Can You Leave Dog Alone?
How long you can leave a dog alone for depends on a few things:
- Their age
- Their bladder control
- How much exercise they need
For puppies, you probably won’t want to leave them alone for more than 2 hours. That’s because they lack bladder control and can’t be trusted alone yet (after hours, you could walk in to see half of your house destroyed). In addition, since puppies can get into a lot of things, the shorter you leave him alone for, the safer.
For healthy adult dogs, it’s best to leave them alone for 4-6 hours. With that being said, some people leave their dogs alone for the full 8-hour workday without any problems (however, make sure to factor in your commute time). If you notice your dog going to the bathroom inside or with an uncalmable energy, you’ll need to leave him alone for less time. If this isn’t possible, ask a neighbor for help or hire a dog walker.
For senior dogs, the time varies more. You can leave them alone for 2-6 hours, but this depends on their health. As dogs age, they become less able to hold in their pees and poops. Leaving them alone for long periods can lead to a mess and even more so if your dog tracks it around the home. If a dog is really sick, he may require more supervision and care.
#1 Limit Space
If your dog is a puppy or is prone to getting into things, limit the space she can roam around in. For example, let your dog hang out in the living room, but close the doors to bedrooms and bathrooms. If you don’t have doors, you can purchase an easy-assemble gate to keep your dog out of certain areas. This would be a great idea for the kitchen. This way, if your dog doesn’t get in the mood to destroy things, she’ll be limited.
#2 Watch for Hazards
A puppy or constant chewer can get into almost anything in her reach. Before you leave each day, do a scan to see what you need to pick up and put away. For example:
- Cleaning products
- Papers or tissues
- Any toxic chemicals or products
#3 Wear Him Out Before
Get up a bit earlier than usual and build in some time to wear your dog out before you leave. This includes more than just a quick walk around the block. Take her for a jog, long walk, or engage her in a game of fetch or tug-of-war. When she’s already had her fun and her energy is depleted, she will use your hours away to sleep. This means she’ll be less bored and less likely to destroy things out of boredom.
#4 Give a Food Dispensing Toy
An easy way to keep your dog busy is to give him a treat toy whenever you leave. There’s plenty of options. You can choose balls that dispense small treats or kibble as your dog rolls it around. There’s also the traditional Kong that you can fill with a variety of ingredients. Freezing the Kong after you fill it can make it last even longer. Don’t know what to put in it? Read our guide: 50+ Irresistible Kong Stuffing Recipes Your Dog Will Go Mutts Over.
#5 Leave a Delicious Bone
While you may not feed him a bone every day, it can be a special treat a few times a week. Find a bone that your dog absolutely loves. Then, stick it in the freezer so it will last longer. Give it to your dog before you leave. Before you know it, he’ll be happy when you leave!
#6 Hide Treats
To give your doggo an all-day scavenger hunt, place small treats around the home. Hide them in places he can assess but that aren’t immediately visible. This can help work his little sniffer and tire him out. Of course, don’t place treats anywhere you don’t want your dog going, even if it’s just one time. That can build a bad habit. For example, if you don’t want your dog crawling under your bed, eliminate that area from the treat scavenger hunt.
#9 Special Toys
You’ll leave out toys for your dog anyway, but make a pile that you give him only when you go out. Take him to the pet store to try out some toys to see which he likes best. He’ll get excited whenever you bring out the special pile and he’ll likely play with them for longer, getting out more of his energy.
Even if you work shift work, try to create a routine around when you walk, feed and exercise your dog. This will help prevent accidents in the home, but also give him a sense of what to expect. Dogs are creatures of habits and creating a routine helps him in many areas, especially when they’re puppies.
#11 Provide a Comfy, Safe Space
If you block off certain areas of the home, make sure you leave a comfy spot for your dog to rest. Since dogs like the feeling of being sheltered, often a cage or enclosed is best. Make your dog’s cage as comfortable as possible with a soft bed, blankets and toys. Laying a blanket overtop of the cage can also give him an added sense of security. Leave the door of the cage open so your dog can come and go as he pleases.
#12 Get a Dog Cam
Dog cams are like web cams specifically made for the pet parent who’s away. They allow you to hear your dog and for them to hear you too. You can see what they’re up to using connecting apps. Some even have the option to shoot out treats whenever your dog needs a quick pick-me-up. Which dog cam should you go for? Check out our guide: Watch Your Dog From ANYWHERE: 6 Best Pet Cameras According to Reviews.
#13 Leave Some Sound
If your dog gets lonely or is a barker, try leaving on some sound. It can be TV, the radio or an audiobook or podcast. My dog responds best to kid’s shows—ones with bright colors and higher-pitched voices.
#14 Hire a Dog Walker
Most people work long days and the commute there and back can make it even longer. If you’re away for long periods of time and no one else is in the house to let your dog out, hire a dog walker. This will get out some of your dog’s energy and let him go to the bathroom (so you won’t come home to any accidents). Even if you only hire a walker for a day or two a week, it can be worth it.
What to Do When You Get Home
Dogs are always excited to see you come home. Although it’s hard, ignore him until he calms down. This can help to reduce separation anxiety and teach him not to jump up at guests. After he’s settled, give him some love and get him out for some exercise. Then, make sure to pay attention and play with him during your time home to make up for the time you’re away.
Remember: While you’re busy all day, your dog waits hours just to see you. You are his whole life. Even if it’s hard to make time after work, try your very best—because when he’s gone, you’ll wish you could take all that time back and play with him forever.