The Upper Pawside - Why You Should Not Leave Your Dog Alone

Posted on 11 October, 2021

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Written by Paul Andrews for The Upper Pawside

You obviously love your dog and want to take it everywhere but if you can’t, you must avoid leaving your dog alone. As a responsible dog-owner you are likely to do anything to keep your dog healthy. So while you take your dog on its walks to get them exercise for physical fitness, ensure you spend time with them for their emotional wellness.

Consider this, while you’re running around with a million other things to do, your dogs’ life revolves around you. Leaving your dog home alone while at work may seem harmless, most dog-owners you know seem to be doing it but this could adversely affect your dog’s wellbeing. Read on to find out why leaving your furry companion behind is a bad idea.

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What Happens If You Leave Your Dog Alone Too Often For Too Long

Let’s look at five of the main reasons why you shouldn’t leave your dog alone.


It is fairly obvious that leaving your dog home alone all day will bore them. After all, dogs are social creatures with a lot of energy and your dog may begin to act out if they get bored.

Sitting cooped up at home all day is no fun and your dog could misbehave as a result.

This could include:

  • Biting
  • Chewing on furniture
  • Scratching and roughhousing your belongings
  • Excessive barking, howling, or whining
  • Urinating
  • Binge eating

In dire circumstances, your dog may even run away from home.

Lack of Stimulation

Without the stimulation from meeting other dogs, seeing things, exploring scents, and playing fun new games, your dog’s can be pretty lacklustre.

Staying home all day in the same environment with the same old things to see and sniff could get depressing for your dog. Especially if you’re not around to make them play games and keep them entertained.

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Accidents and Health Hazards

When you leave your dog alone, possibly unsupervised for a long time, they may encounter dangers that could pose a risk to their health and wellbeing.

If there happens to be a storm when your dog is alone, they could be extremely distressed.

There is also the risk of other mishaps, like accidental poisoning, sickness, or choking.

There are ways to avoid these but prevention methods cannot possibly be 100% effective.

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Loneliness and Separation Anxiety

Dogs don’t know that you will return when you leave the house. They may appear calm but they could be panicking when you leave. Spending the day stressed and lonely without their owner is detrimental to dog health in the long run.

Separation anxiety could also manifest itself in harmful behaviors such as:

  • Loss of appetite or binge eating from stress
  • Vomiting
  • Sickness
  • Urinating or defecating indoors
  • Trembling

Lack of Quality Time

This is probably the one that requires active effort from you. While the previous reasons are all things you could take care of, you can’t make up for lost time.

Dogs have a relatively short lifespan and whenever you leave them alone, you are giving up on spending quality time with them. Spending time with your dog should be your absolute priority otherwise you may regret it when it’s too late.

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Dog’s Day In

So, you understand that you should not be leaving your canine companion alone for long periods, but you still can’t be around them all day every day, right? That’s understandable, but there are things you should know if you absolutely must leave your dog home alone.

This section covers everything you should know in order to keep your dog safe and happy when you’re not around. Dog-proofing the house is a must even if you are around as much as possible, but there are other things to keep in mind too.

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How To Safely Leave Your Dog Unsupervised At Home?

There are some things you can do to safeguard your dog’s health and care when you’re not around.

Train Your Dog To Say Goodbye

The first step is to train your dog with the ‘Leave and Return’ before you start leaving the house. You want to start doing this when your dog is still a small pup. It’s a great way to make leaving seem like a very normal, uneventful part of the day.

This way, they know that if and when you do leave, you shall always return. It will stop them from panicking every time you wear your footwear to leave the house.

Don’t Give Them A Free Reign Over The House

Start by leaving your dog alone for a short period in a designated area of the house, so they do not get overwhelmed.

Once they’re accustomed to being left alone, you can eventually let them roam free all over the house.

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Tire Your Dog Out Before You Go

Exercising your dog before you leave is a great way to ensure that they won’t notice your absence or at least miss you for too long.

If they’re tired, there’s a good chance your dog will get comfortable and take a nice, long nap. This gives you the opportunity to leave the house without freaking them out!

Keep Your Dog Fed And Occupied Even When You’re Away

Invest in an automatic dog feeder or food dispensing toys so your dog can stick to their meal schedule even when you aren’t around.

Also, get some fun toys and activities set up so your dog can entertain themselves while you’re away.

How Long Can You Leave Dogs Alone At Home?

Consider your dog’s age, health conditions, feeding times, potty breaks, training experience, activity, and socialization and work around that when you plan to leave them alone.

  • Puppies should not be left alone for more than 2 hours at a stretch
  • Adult dogs (18 months and above) can be comfortably left alone for 4-6 hours a day after proper training.
  • Elderly dogs can be left alone for no more than 2-4 hours.

There are a couple reasons why puppies should not be left alone. They may develop separation anxiety and lack the training required to stay at home without supervision.

Elder dogs may experience health complications and require additional assistance, thus it is better for their safety and your peace of mind that you do not leave them alone for too long.

Some breeds such as Chihuahuas, Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Beagles, Yorkshire terriers etc are better suited to being alone than others. You may want to research dog-specific instructions before you head out.

Alternatives To Avoid Leaving Your Dog Alone?

There are a few ways you can ensure your dog is cared for while you’re away:

  • Doggy Day Care - they’re not too expensive, plus your dog will make friends and have a lot of fun.
  • Dog-sitters - you could employ a dog-sitter to spend a few hours a day with your dog. They could also help train your dog while you’re away!
    • Homesitters Ltd - While you’re away, our employees will stay in your home and look after everything – pets, garden and security – providing complete peace of mind for you, your animals and your insurers.
  • Friends or family - if it’s an emergency and you don’t have time to hire a dog-sitter, you could always ask your friends, family, or neighbours to keep an eye on your pup.
  • Work from home - if your employers allow you to work remotely, you can do so at least twice a week so your dog spends less time alone.
  • Dog-friendly spaces - if you’re heading out to a cafe, or meeting friends for lunch, you could have your dog accompany you by visiting a dog-friendly establishment.

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How To Greet Your Dog Once You Return?

Just as you train your dog to consider leaving the house extremely normal, you should be nonchalant after returning too. This lets your dog know that it’s just a part of your routine of going and coming back.

However, remember that they’ve probably spent all day missing you and waiting for you to return so it’s always nice to greet them with an excited hello and give them some extra affection when they come to meet you at the door with their wagging tails.

To make up for your absence, you could also do the following things:

  • Take your dog out for a walk or a drive
  • Head to the park for some playtime
  • Indulge in a game of fetch
  • Give your dog a treat if you’re back after a long day

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Is It Bad To Never Leave Your Dog Alone?

Ironically, never leaving your dog alone is perhaps as bad as leaving them alone too much.

Though you must not leave your dog alone too much, being a helicopter parent and constantly smothering your dog is also a bad idea.

It may lead to them being clingy, dependent, and insecure. This means that on the rare occasions that you do leave your dog alone, it will be even more traumatic for them.

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Final Thoughts

Having a dog as part of your family is not different from having a little toddler - they’re even uniform in mental age!

As dog-parents, there’s a good chance that you too will feel a little bummed out about having to leave your dog alone, but your dog will most likely feel it so much more.

Therefore, it is important to avoid leaving your dog alone as much as possible.

We’ve covered everything you need to know from how to safely leave your dog alone if you absolutely must, and how to behave once you return. Now it’s your turn to do your bit and give your dog a lovely, happy life!


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