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Can You Leave A Dog Alone Overnight?

Dogs are sociable animals and love company. But as much as we might want to, we can’t always spend every moment together. After all, what happens when you go on holiday or need to travel for work? In this blog we’ll be answering the popular question: can you leave a dog alone overnight? Keep reading for our advice!

Can You Leave A Dog Alone Overnight?

It’s always good practice that your dog or puppy learns to be home alone for a period of time. This is an essential part of their development and can help to prevent separation anxiety in dogs from becoming a future issue.

That said, it’s not advisable to leave dogs or puppies alone for long periods. This includes leaving dogs alone overnight.

Many dogs feel worried when they are left on their own, especially if they have been used to having company. There are also things that need to be considered when it comes to the length of time they can be left alone:

Brown dog giving human a paw on a dockHow long can you leave a dog alone?

Generally speaking, young puppies can be left alone for up to 2 hours, but this has to be built up gradually with the right training. Dogs over 18 months old meanwhile can be left a little longer, up to 4 hours. Just remember that this will vary from dog to dog.

When your dog reaches its senior years, the length of time they can be left alone will very much depend on their health. In general, it could be between 2-6 hours.

Tips For Leaving Dogs Home Alone For Short Periods

  • When you are planning to be away for any length of time, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise before you leave.
  • Ensure your dog has been to the toilet – this will help them to settle when you are not there.
  • Leave plenty of water, along with their favourite chews, toys, or a food puzzle to keep them occupied if they get bored.
  • Consider leaving the radio or TV on, or put on a calming video.
  • If your dog is prone to barking at people or other dogs passing the window, it might be an idea to close the curtains on those windows.
  • Consider setting up a pet camera to allow you to check on your dog when you are not there. Some systems allow you to talk to your dog and dispense treats or toys. Just bear in mind that some dogs may find hearing your voice confusing if they cannot see you.

Used regularly, an ADAPTIL Calm Diffuser can help your dog stay calm and adapt to situations like staying alone. This pheromone plug in for dogs creates a reassuring environment at home and continuous use will provide constant comfort for your dog.

Husky sitting in grass outside being pet by happy young womanAlternatives to leaving your dog alone overnight

Tips For Leaving Dogs Home Alone - A Dog Sitter

If you are unable to take your dog with you overnight, consider engaging a dog sitter to look after them when you are away. This could be a friend, a neighbour, or a family member. You should ensure that they meet your dog a few times before you leave so that they can get to know each other. This will also help the sitter to learn your dog’s routine, including how to give them medication if necessary, and you will be able to see how they interact.  

Some sitters will offer to take your dog to their home. This can work very well once your dog gets used to a different environment. Either way, always leave them with a list of emergency contact numbers, including the vet.

Tips For Leaving Dogs Home Alone - A Local Dog Kennel

Some dogs see their local kennel as a home-from-home and they know what to expect when visiting there. If your overnight absences are frequent, it could be a good option to introduce your pooch to a local kennel when they are young. This will help them to become familiar with the process, and they will also learn that you will come and collect them when you return.

German shepard looking up while receiving pets on the chin from a manSigns that your dog is not coping with being left alone

Some dogs cope well with being left alone, but others might not. Always keep a watch out for signs of separation related problems in your dog, which could include:

  • Panting and/or salivating
  • Barking or whining when you leave
  • Pacing, restlessness, chewing at door frames, scratching carpets or jumping up at windows looking for an exit
  • Toileting in the home

When you return, signs of a nervous dog may include them becoming very excitable! They might also follow you wherever you go in the house. While it is tempting to make a fuss of them, try to remain passive when you return. This will reassure them that your leaving is normal. You can then reward them when they are calm again.

With practice and training, it is possible to help an anxious dog recognize that you will return home, and that a calm response to your return is ok! 

To help a nervous dog who may be struggling when left home alone, start small. Leave them in a room where you know they’ll feel relaxed for a short period of time. You can then increase this gradually to going out the front door for a very short time before returning, building the length of absence over time.

Make the most of practice runs that incorporate things you would do as part of your usual departure. For example, picking up your keys, putting on your coat and shoes, and so on. This can also help you determine which step is particularly worrying for your dog, so you can then adapt your training appropriately. 

Remember to work at a pace that your dog is comfortable with during training. Always reward them for staying calm, and gradually build up to a point where they are comfortable staying at home without you. At the same time, it’s important not to leave your dog for any longer than you’ve successfully trained them to be alone. This is a common issue that can be surprisingly detrimental to your dog’s training!

Lastly, remember to only reward a calm response in training. If your dog becomes overexcited or nervous, stop the session. You can always try again with an earlier step when they are happy and calm!

Golden lab puppy giving high five to young woman outside

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