When it's just you and your pup living together, the only thing that may ruin your harmony is if you continually stay out for too long.
You sure know what it is like to be left lonely, abandoned, ignored or forgotten. It affects the mind leading to negative feelings like suicidal thoughts, anger, and depression. Everyone craves to be appreciated and loved and the quest for attention will never decline among humans because we are social beings.
In a similar manner, dogs are also social. Their need for attention is much less when compared to ours, but they can be depressed, happy, sad and angry. Dogs are our friends; it's not supposed to be a one way kind of relationship.
Dogs require your time and attention particularly when they are young. It becomes a challenge for your pup and it could be a challenge for you too, especially if you have to inevitably be at work for long hours.
You need to think of their attention requirement as a necessary part of their upbringing because it is. Young dogs need this provision for the healthy maturation of their minds and body. This doesn't mean you have to be around them all the time; they can surely do without you but only for a while. But the length of time they can do without you depend on individual dogs and generally on their age.
Being alone all day can be stressful
History shows that dogs have been left alone for long stretches. In fact decades ago, if a family is going to be out on vacation for a long time, consideration is not usually given to how the dog would feel. As long as an arrangement is made for food and water, most owners feel all is in place.
Well, dogs that have actually appear to be fine for long days and hours without being around their owners have only learned to cope with something not pleasant. They’ve only adapted to our routines, but it’s not ideal for their fun-loving nature.
Some dogs find it hard to adapt, and they display behavioral problems like aggression, anxiety, fear, to name a few. Little wonder many behavior consultants and trainers are kept busy all the time due to the lifestyle dogs have been subjected to.
How do you tell how long is too long?
When you begin to notice separation behavior, you can tell your being away is beginning to affect your dog's wellbeing. Some of this behavior includes:
- Binge eating
- Unnecessarily barking
- Separation anxiety
- Destructive behavior
You can have a dog even if you work long hours. In fact, many dog owners work long hours and still have other responsibilities to attend to afterward. But take a look at this general rule so you can prepare accordingly.
- Newborn dogs should be watched at all times even when they are in their mothers’ care. They can easily die of suffocation or compression. Hence, It's important that's someone is keeping close tabs on them.
- Tiny dogs of 8 to 10 weeks should not be kept on their own for more than one hour. They cannot hold their bladders and will need to be taken out frequently to begin potty training.
- Puppies that are old enough to walk and move around should be taken out every two hours. They should be more than two months old at this point.
- 4 month-old puppies are growing and learning fast. They may have completed the potty training and can hold their bladders. You can leave them on their own for up to 4 hours or more.
- The time range for adult dogs above 18 months depends on the breed. But if you've done your part, you can leave them for 6 hours without them feeling bored.
Pay attention to individual dogs
The above general rule varies with dog's age, size and habits. Some dogs may be able to stay longer others may not depending on training and some inherent factors. There's also a general rule that you shouldn't keep a companion dog on its own for over 8 hours knowing it depends on you.
If you're going to decide how long you can afford to be without them each day, you should take into consideration the factors that can influence his time alone, like how much training you've given him, how you monitor, how much exercise he needs, what may have happened in the past and your dog's breed.
Nonetheless, he has to learn to take care of himself and you're the one to empower him to do so.
With proper training, every grown-up dog should be able to stay on its own for a day without experiencing emotional distress. You teach him that it's completely okay to be alone at home by introducing small breaks and increasing the time gradually as he learns.
Potty training can be used to measure the initial time if it's a young dog. Watch out for potty accidents and other signs.
The procedure is quite simple. To practice leaving him on his own, give him a treat and leave him in his crate or whatever place. After a while, he should start winning and barking to call you. But don't go back until he stops. When he does stop, re-enter the room and assure him verbally that it is fine to be alone. Don't give him a treat when you return. Ensure he's occupied while you're away. Leave him with indestructible toys that he likes.
It is important to keep him occupied while you are away. Give him puzzles to solve and allow him to work for his food. This way you're killing two birds with a stone. A fun thing you can do is to leave treats for him all around the house to discover. It's also very important to ensure that his toys are indestructible.
Exercise helps your dog
Exercise keeps your dog healthy, stimulates his brain, keeps him from being bored, works his muscles and helps him keep fit. "Healthy dogs need up to 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day". This exercise time may be longer and more intense for some very sporty dogs.
If he gets his daily dose of exercise, chances are he will be more content while you're out and behave well. It's an easy trick to walk him in the mornings just before you go out so that he can be more relaxed while you're away.
He may also use an afternoon walk with you if you're available or with a dog walker.
You can minimize the effect of boredom if you teach your dog while it's still very young to be fine while you are out. However, whenever you're around, don’t hesitate to spend time with your dog. Consider playing catch together or visiting a dog spa.
Remember! Don't always reward him if he passes a test while you're both practicing house training. He should understand that there are times and days he can be on his own and be completely fine. Another option is to get a dog-sitter.