For most dog owners, one of the main concerns is leaving their pooch home alone for a short period e.g. while at work.
Although it is hard to leave your furry friend behind, your dog can (and should be able to) handle short periods of alone time just fine.
Let’s see how you can convert this recurring situation into a safe, healthy and comfortable experience for your pooch.
Here’s a list of suggestions that you can put into practise to guarantee your dog’s safety when he’s alone at home.
This is one of the first things that I recommend to everyone that brings a dog into their home.
It’s sound basic but dogs can be a handful and they can easily get themselves into trouble. Plus, because of their curious nature, they can jeopardize their security unintentionally.
As a rule of thumb, keep your dog away from anything that can be dangerous or that you simply don’t want it to get damaged.
Here’s how to dog-proof your home:
|❐ Use baby gates that limit access to rooms or stairs.|
|❐ Get covers for electrical outlets.|
|❐ Hide cables behind furniture.|
|❐ Put safety locks for your kitchen and bathroom cabinets.|
|❐ Keep all doors closed that are accessible within your dog’s safe zone.|
|❐ Keep accessible windows closed too.|
|❐ Keep breakables and tearables out of reach, from shoes to glass vases.|
|❐ Store dangerous and toxic substances for your dog, including human |
food, medications, plants, cleaning products.
For a room by room checklist and poisonous substance list, check out our How to Make Your Home Dog-Friendly and Safe blog post.
Preparation is the key to leaving your dog alone.
Getting your pooch gradually ready to be alone will result in a confident dog that stays calm and comfortable by himself. He will learn that he’s safe and that you will always return with him.
For achieving that, train your dog from day 1. As part of house-training your pooch, consider crate training.
You don’t necessarily have to lock your dog in a crate. But you have to teach him to be okay in a confined space that has enough room for him to move and to stay by himself for a while.
You can start with 5-minute sessions and build up to 20 minutes.
In the How Long Can I Leave My Dog Alone? blog post, you can better understand how long is considered safe to leave your pooch at home alone (age plays a part in this).
Insider Tip: Reward your pooch during the training process to encourage him to stay calm when alone and for him to know that he’s being a good boy!
By training your dog to be alone, you will prevent your dog from ever becoming anxious when by himself – also known as separation anxiety. Also, you can hire a dog walker for a lunchtime break or a dog sitter while your pooch is getting used to being alone.
Want to know what I think fits the bill for this purpose?
Head over to my favourite dog care page to find out more!
Setting up a dog safe zone is one of the effective strategies for easing the process of leaving your pooch alone at home.
Basically, you are setting limits to potentially harmful situations and at the same time providing your pooch with the comfort he needs.
Your dog safe zone provides many benefits for both of you:
Think of your dog’s safe zone as an extension of his crate (Amazon link) or bed. When you leave the house, you can either limit the space where he’s allowed using a playpen or baby/pet gates (Amazon links) that compliment your interior without compromising your dog’s security.
Either way, he should be restricted from wandering around the rest of the house to avoid dangerous situations or accidents (urinary, reaching to something valuable or harmful, etc.)
Finally, never leave your dog held up in his crate (door closed) for the whole day. He needs to be able to move around!
A crate should be temporary location tool used for training (this is the time you close the crate door) and only used for short periods of time (for example, no more than 2 hours).
Insider Tip: As part of your dog’s safety when alone, don’t leave your pooch in the garden when you are not at home. This can lead to fatal situations like your dog escaping, or suffering from hypothermia, sunburn, or dehydration, for instance.
Exercising your pooch before leaving is the best way to tire him.
If your furry friend has gone for a walk and spends some time sniffing, for example, he is more likely to sleep during the day. The result you’re looking for is that when your dog gets home, he goes to his bed to snooze.
How much exercise and what kind depends on your dog’s age, fitness, body type, and state of health, but also on the weather.
By exercising your dog, you will not only tire him out but also prevent boredom. According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), an animal rights organization, dogs don’t want to be left alone due to:
Lack of mental and physical stimulation can lead to various health and behavioural problems such as:
So, if your pooch misbehaved whilst you were away, don’t punish him; it’s not his fault! Instead, use our How to Keep My Dog Entertained While at Work guide for some tips that might help you and your dog.
Finally, before leaving make sure to leave water in an accessible place and provide some entertainment, which also helps to prevent the problems listed above.
Surveillance gear is an option to consider when it comes to dog home alone safety. Technology has come a long way when it comes to pets, and there are a variety of options out there that help worried dog parents when they are away.
Note: the links above will take you to Amazon.
If you have multiple dogs or other pets in the house, consider whether you need to separate them or not.
You know best how they get along and how likely it is for them to have disagreements. If your dog’s sleep separately at night, you can take this as an indication to keep them separate when you are away.
The main reason dog owners separate their dogs while away is to prevent possible injuries.
If you think that it might be best to keep them separate while you are not home, establish different safe zones for them. You can keep dogs apart by simply using a dog gate to keep them in separate rooms, for instance.
Multiple pet household story: When growing up, my Mastiff and Boxer would sleep with our cats, but not together. So we provided separate spaces that they could call their own. However, my parents now have two Spanish Mastiffs that are siblings and they like sleeping together, and when they stay apart it’s because they are guarding different parts of the farm.
Anxiety is a major concern for many dog parents, especially when leaving their dogs alone.
If you are training your dog to gradually tolerate being alone (as I explained in #2), you should be able to prevent this situation. However, if your pooch is still adjusting or if he’s an adopted dog, there are other measures that you can take to ensure your dog’s safety and wellbeing.
Soothing your dog’s uneasiness:
Note: the links above will take you to Amazon.
P.S. If you have any concerns and are looking for solutions + insights, I recommend giving our How to Calm Dog Fears and Anxiety blog post a read.
Another dog home alone safety measures is a dog tracker.
This option is especially useful if your dog is an escape artist. However, I think it will provide peace of mind to many dog parents regardless of their dog’s tendency for wanderlust.
Losing your dog is a dog parents worst nightmare and microchips cannot help you locate your dog.
Thanks to these GPS tracking devices, you are able to know where your dog is at all times. You can simply use your phone to check on your dog while away. Brands like Whistle (Amazon link) will map your dog’s movements and report back to you. You just need to attach the monitor to your dog’s collar.
Depending on where your dog’s safe zone is, there are a few dog safety hacks that will definitely keep your pooch out of trouble!
Note: the links above will take you to Amazon store.
Finally, once you get home, you should expect that your dog will need your attention and care after spending some time by himself 🙂
It’s good to be prepared for it and dedicate some quality time to your pooch (although you’ve probably missed him equally as much!). Following the code of practice for the welfare of dogs (source), your dog’s needs include:
When you get home, after saying hello, you should address his most pressing need – having to pee and poop.
If possible, instead of a potty break, take your pup for a walk. Alternatively, you can have some playtime together. After that, you can feed him and later on chill together for some cuddle time.
Whatever your routine after you get home, keep it consistent so your dog feels more assured and also knows what to expect. This has very beneficial effects on his general wellbeing and behaviour. It also helps your dog to manage better the time he is alone at home.