Is it OK to leave a dog alone for 8 hours ?
Wondering if you can leave your dog alone all day and go to work?
The answer is yes. Yes, you can leave your dog alone for 8 hours or more every day if you want as long as he is over a year old, crate trained, trained to stay alone, non destructive and of course to respect some rules, like :
- Do not give him access to a lot of space
- leave your dog something to occupy him during your absence, such as toys, music…
- Ignore your dog the minutes before you leave in the morning and the moments after you return in the evening.
- Walk your dog before you leave in the morning (important!) and after you come home in the evening so that he can exercise and get a little tired.
It was just a few quick tips on what to do if you leave your dog alone all day, and if you want more details on the subject, I invite you to continue reading…
How to teach your dog to stay more than 8 hours at home without destroying it?
The secret to successfully teaching your dog to stay alone for long hours is to do it gradually
For example start by teaching him to stay alone in one room of the house while you are in another...and increase the time and distance as you progress in the training.
In fact, what causes dogs to behave badly during their owner’s absence is separation anxiety.
If you leave a dog that suffers from this problem alone all day long, he will either :
- Destroy and ransack the house
- Defecate everywhere and indulge in marking all the rooms
- If he still has some energy left, he will bark like crazy and turn all your neighbors against you lol…
How do you know if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety and therefore cannot stay alone in the house for too long?
Here are the signs that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety and is not yet ready to stay home alone all day long ..:
- If your dog is usually overexcited when you get ready to leave the house in the morning and also when you come home in the evening, you will notice that your dog follows you around the house as if he is still afraid that you will leave without him…
- If you find when you come home that your dog hasn’t touched his toys or his food if you have left him some kibble in a “Kong” for example … etc…
- If your neighbors come to you and complain because they heard your dog barking for hours while you are not there !
- If your dog destroys everything in the house, shoes, table legs, bed … etc…
Mistakes you should not make if you want to teach your dog to stay alone
Here are the three things you must stop doing with your dog today if you want to prepare him to endure your absence for 8 hours or more:
- Never stay with your dog all day, so you must learn to leave your dog alone from time to time.
- Never ask your dog to follow you everywhere in the house or the property, if he is for example with you in the living room, you are not obliged to call him if you go in the kitchen and he does not follow you!!
- Never let your dog sleep with you in bed , even under the bed , even under the bed !
How can I make sure that my dog can stay alone at home l all day without stressing him ?
Here is what you have to do to get your dog used to your absence all day long and help your dog to really enjoy his time even when he is alone at home :
1- Ignore your dog before you leave and right after you come back
The first thing to do is to make a habit of ignoring your dog for 3 to 5 minutes before you go out in the morning and before you come back in the evening.
It’s hard to do, I know it’s hard to do, but do it for the good of your dog, who has gotten used to dramatizing those two moments because he feels the anguish of leaving him alone for all his hours and becomes stressed in his turn.
Why should you ignore your dog when he gets excited ?
You have to ignore your dog when you come back home in the evening so that he doesn’t associate your coming back with the fact that you are playing with him …
In fact, it is important to make your dog understand that it is normal for him to stay home alone all that time and that you, as his owner, know what you are doing and he must trust you.
2-Make your dog insensitive to your departure and arrival times
Your dog’s stress starts long before you leave, in fact as soon as your dog sees you looking for your car keys, putting on your coat …etc.
He knows that you are going to leave and that you may be away all day long, and that he doesn’t like…
So you have to start by making your dog insensitive to this moment of departure and all the things you are used to do before you go out in the morning.
During your weekends, for example, you can practice the ” fake leavings ” exercise with your dog.
Here are some examples
1- You will simulate your departure, you take your coat and your keys, but instead of going out you just sit down to watch TV or play with your dog, you can even give him some treats.
2-You go out, close the door behind you and wait for a while and then come back, play and reward your dog, don’t go in if you hear your dog barking or scratching at the door … !!
Try to increase the amount of time you stay outside before coming back to your dog.
You can use the webcam on your laptop to spy on your dog and see live how he behaves while you are outside
“You can also use two Facebook accounts and call each other live.
Ignoring your dog from the moment you arrive until he calms down, will make him understand that staying alone all day long is a normal thing and he doesn’t have to be rewarded for it !
Little by little, your dog will accept his new truth and his new way of life which consists in seeing you only during the night and the weekends.
You can start by teaching your dog to stay alone in one room of the house while you are in another room, so you will gradually get your dog used to not having you in sight all the time.
To do this, just take him to that room, show him where he should sit or lie down, go back to the other room and if he follows you, close the door behind you and ignore whatever he does.
Only open the door if he is back in the room or if he stops crying …etc….
3- leave your dog with something to keep him busy during your long absence
Some people feed the dog just before going work and close the door behind them, by doing so, the dog won’t notice.
Toys that your dog can chew on or that can be stuffed with food and treats , see the one i recommend on Amazon .
There an other toy , it’s really cool “Treat Tosser” ideal to keep your dog company while you are at work , you will be able to see your dog , talk with him and give him treat directly from your Office , juste by using your smartphone !!
So you’ll choose a few toys, such as the kong, and you’ll stuff them with the treats your dog loves the most, you can freeze them so they last longer.
Your dog should only have these treats while you are away, so never give your dog these treats when you are at home !
The goal here is to make sure that these toys filled with treats can replace you at home and that the dog sees this as a good deal !
You also have to leave the dog his water bowl next to his basket or his crate, you can also see how to do the Crate Training if it’s a puppy that you have and you want to learn how to leave him alone in his crate ( not more than 3 to 4 hours!!).
You can also help your dog to bear your absence by leaving him one of your old T Shirts …so that he will have a strong smell of you right next to him even if you are not at home.
4. Make your dog spend some energy before you leave and a little after you return in the evening
If you are used to jogging in the morning, think about teaching your dog to run with you and take him with you every morning.
If not, walking your dog early in the morning before you go to work and leaving him alone in the house will exhaust him and he will spend most of his time sleeping when he is alone in your house.
Help your dog to mentally exercise himself because that’s what will make him even more tired, play brain games with him at night, let him sniff at everything that interests him and use his nose when you walk him ….
5- Some other tips to keep your dog busy during your prolonged absence
If you’re away all day and you have to leave your dog alone at home, you could leave the TV on on an animal channel, or some music, here’s some music specially made to soothe dogs ( 9 hours ) plus an Anxiety solution Ebook if you want to buy it for your dog ( check ou the price , i think it was $29 ).
It would be like a background noise that will cover all the other noises that will come from outside and that can stress your dog during your absence.
There are also smells known to soothe dogs, like the smell of lavender, you can also buy a Bach flower, they say it calms dogs too. There are also Dog Calming Diffusers ( link to Amazon ), these are scent diffusers that are supposed to calm the dog when he is left alone at home.
Which dog breeds are more tolerant of loneliness?
To begin, you should know that dogs like Labrador, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds or Border Collies are very active dogs and it would be very difficult to make them accept to stay alone all day without making them sad !
It is also important to know that regardless of its breed, a dog does not like to stay alone, especially for long periods of time, that’s why you must train your dog and make him get used to your prolonged absence.
But I did some research and I found that specialists have selected a few breeds of dogs, which are more inclined to stay alone than others, here is the list if you want to adopt a dog when you can’t stay with him during the day:
- Chow Chow
- Lhasa Apso
- Shiba Inu
- French Bulldog
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Basset Hound
- Boston Terrier
- Scottish Terrier
- English Foxhound
- Chinese Shar-Pei
They are generally dogs that do not require too much interaction and exercise that is why they are included in this list, but they must be conditioned to stay alone for 8 hours training them and getting them used to solitude, although this will be easier to do with these breeds than with other dogs such as the German shepherd …
Can I leave my puppy alone all day?
No, a puppy needs your presence, you can leave him alone in his crate, I showed you how to train him in a previous article.
But if you work all day and you want to adopt a dog, think rather about an adult dog, that you will get used to solitude
If not , you should consider even a senior dog, because an old dog that you will bring back from a shelter, will quickly adopt your lifestyle and will easily stay alone, 8 hours at home and will wait for you nicely because he will spend most of his day sleeping, especially if you walk him a little in the morning before you go to work.
My opinion is if you have a puppy, If you’re crating you could go younger but you’ll need a dog walker, because if you leave the puppy more than 4 hours locked in his crate, he’s really not going to like it and become hysterical …
Bring a new playmate for your dog
It’s true that if you can adopt another dog, who has a calm temperament, like an old dog, this one will keep your dog company when you are not at home.
Even a cat could do the trick, if your dog gets along well with cats of course…
There, you know now that you can’t just close the door and leave your dog alone all day without preparing him for it, because dogs are very social animals and if you don’t get used to them, they can’t stand to be alone especially for long periods of time.
My last piece of advice is that even if you can get your dog used to waiting for you for 8 hours, try from time to time to surprise him by going for his lunch walk or ask a dog walker to do it for you .