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Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

Sometimes there will be occasions where you’ll have to leave your dog alone at home while you step out to do errands or work.  While it’s not a good idea to leave a dog home alone for very long time periods, you can't be tied to your home just because you now own a pet.  How can you keep your dog (relatively) happy while you’re out for a few hours?  

Your dog will miss you while you are out, and that’s a given.  But there are things you can do to help your dog to weather the hours of your absence before you leave.  Establishing a routine of some sort helps to provide your dog with a feeling of regularity and predictability, which can be reassuring.  Your dog will get used to the idea that you’re going out and most importantly, will be coming back soon.  It’s a good idea to exercise your dog for ten minutes before you step out.  Try taking a short walk with your dog around the yard so that your pet has time to stretch his legs and burn some energy.  Play with your dog before you head out, and also leave your dog some chew toys to play with while you’re gone.  If you rub them in your palms you can transfer your scent to the chew toys, which will reassure the dog in  your absence.

You can leave your dog indoors or outdoors in your yard, though it’s probably better to go with indoors.  The benefit of leaving your dog in your yard is that your dog will have more room to run around, but there are a lot of drawbacks.  If the weather turns bad, your dog will be very distressed since he’ll be trapped outside.  If the weather is too hot or bright, this can also be distressing—if there is no shade in your yard, leaving your dog out there is definitely a bad idea.  Your neighbors may also complain if your dog runs around barking outside the whole time you’re gone.  

Most dogs will be happier if they are left indoors in a confined space with a comfortable cushion, dog bed, or blanket.  Some dogs eat things they shouldn’t while their owners are gone, which is a sign of separation anxiety.  If your dog does this, the confined space aspect is extra important.  A large bone and no bedding are best in this situation.  If you leave bedding with your dog and he has this tendency to eat what he shouldn’t, he may eat the bedding.

Another good trick is to turn on the television or radio before you leave.  Dogs are typically reassured by the sounds of voices, even if they aren’t yours.  Leaving the TV or radio helps dispel the feeling of loneliness which comes from being in an empty house.  This also is a way of signaling to your dog that you’ll be coming back soon.  When you do, expect a very enthusiastic greeting!


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