Having pets is like having children – as much as you’d love to spend all day at home with them and never leave them alone, the unfortunate reality is that bills still need to get paid. The bright side about having pets is that unlike human children, these furbabies can be left alone at home without you getting arrested for neglect. But the big question that still looms is while pets can be left at home, how long can you leave your dog alone at home before it becomes too much for your pets to handle?
Even if your dog doesn’t get bad separation anxiety and won’t rip up your living room couch, there are other factors to consider when leaving your dog to mind the house. For example, they do need regular bathroom breaks. According to Rover.com, puppies – and thankfully only puppies – need to go bathroom one hour for every month they age. This means that if a puppy is three months old, they have to go out every three hours. Adult dogs can go a little longer and can wait between six and eight hours between potty breaks, but senior dogs slow down more and may need a bathroom break every two to six hours.
While these are simply guidelines, you know your dog better than anyone else, so you would be making the final call on your dog’s bathroom schedule. Every dog is different, so now you have the information to make an informed decision.
“Of course, the above estimates vary depending on a dog’s size, health, and habits. But any dog forced to hold their urine for too long is at risk for urinary tract infection, stones, or crystals,” Rover.com explained. “Plus, holding urine for too long is just plain uncomfortable, and can lead to accidents in the house.”
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to work from home, your dog will be used to having you around for regular breaks then you might want to keep in mind that whenever you do go out for the day, you may want to limit it to no more than four hours. Of course that doesn’t mean you have to be chained to your home 24/7, but it just means you have to consider your pup. There is always ways of working around in terms of people who can help. From friends or neighbors to apps and dog walkers, you’re guaranteed to always find someone who can make sure your precious four-legged baby isn’t alone for long.
“For safety and comfort’s sake, provide a potty break every four to six hours,” Rover.com advised. “Standard workdays are eight-to-10 hours long, so if you can’t swing home at lunch to take the dog out, hire a dog walker for worry-free care.”
Of course, if your dog suffers separation anxiety, it may be that much more difficult to leave them alone. An article was written by Torquay And Surfcoast Veterinary Clinic for the “Surf Coast Times,” features some tips Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gittings on how to calm an anxious dog prior to leaving the house.
“It is very important not to make a big deal of departures (or arrivals). This anticipation can create great anxiety for pets, something vets treat often. However, if we make it a non-event, then our pet also will also see it this way,” Dr. Gittings explained. “When leaving, say your goodbyes well before you go, provide entertainment as you leave, helping to create a positive start to their time alone.”
Besides accommodating for potty breaks, it is also important to make sure that your dog is provided with access to freshwater, adequate shelter, and toys. Also, having a regular dog walker is a great easement if you happen to have an anxious pup. Plus, it’s also a great treat for your dog, as it helps them break up the monotony of the day. If you have an energetic dog, a dog walker works for helping to burn off some of that energy.
If you’re the one with the anxiety about leaving your dog alone at home, then a dog walker helps. Or, you can also consider taking your dog to a doggy daycare center. If your funds don’t allow for a dog walker or doggy daycare, then you can check if your friends or neighbors who have dogs of their own wouldn’t mind taking on one more little pup for the day. It’s also worth a shot asking at work the rules about dogs since many offices now are becoming more dog-friendly.
There is also the option of a doggy cam. It’s basically a nanny cam but for dogs. Through them, you can easily check up on your furbaby throughout the workday. Some of these doggy cams can even dispense treats, which means your dog has something fun to look forward to.
One other way to ensure that your dog feels comfortable throughout the day is to create a safe space. Sometimes called a bye-bye room, it’s basically a nice little spot full of water, food, toys, and perhaps some soothing music for them to relax in while you’re gone. No space is too big or small to carve out a little spot for your pup, it just takes some creativity.
Before leaving you can leave your precious furbaby in the bye-bye room, but before you do, you can test out how comfortable they are in the space with short little spurts.
“Upon [arriving] home take five minutes before any big greetings, regardless of how happy you both are to see each other after a long day,” Dr. Gittings also recommended. “Therefore your return does not symbolize the end of their alone time, and leave them awaiting this all day.”
Of course, before anything, there is something important to remember, and that is that dogs are social creatures. If you’re gone all day you can make sure to get in a long walk before and after you go to work. Not only do they need exercise, but they also need social interaction – even if it’s just passing people or other dogs on the street.
“Whether it’s a training session, exciting neighborhood walk, puzzle feeder, or a round of indoor games, enrichment activities help keep your dog healthy and balance out the time she spends alone,” Rover.com suggested.
There is no right way or wrong way to do it, as it all depends on your dog and their specific needs. It really all comes down to the one important factor: that your dog’s physical and mental wellbeing is completely cared for before you leave home. And as the pet parent, you know best what those needs might be.