Everyone knows that dogs can’t stand loneliness, which prevents many people from adopting a pet despite their love for animals.
The decision to adopt a dog when you have to leave your home every day to go to work, therefore, deserves reflection, both to avoid harming the animal’s well-being and to prevent the experience from ending prematurely, often by abandoning the animal.
For other masters, the question arises in the event of unexpected absences, during which they have no other solution than to leave their doggie alone.
In reality, there is no general truth about the duration of the periods of loneliness that a dog can bear: each specimen is different, and everything depends as much on his instincts as on his character, his age, his breed, and, of course, his upbringing.
Dogs and loneliness
Dogs are well known for having eyes only for their masters and, in fact, resenting separation from them very badly.
In reality, things are more nuanced, and each dog’s relationship with loneliness is different depending on multiple factors that you can’t necessarily control.
In principle, a balanced dog, properly prepared for solitude, will simply sleep during the absences of his master.
But some specimens – relatively numerous – suffer from a pathology called “separation anxiety” or “psychosis of abandonment”.
Dogs and separation anxiety
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety will very badly tolerate absences – even very short – from their master, and loneliness will generate stress in them that can lead to behavioral disorders and physical damage. .
It is assumed that separation anxiety is due in particular to incomplete weaning, that is to say that the puppy was taken away from its mother before she taught it, little by little, to detach itself from it. she.
This is very often the case with puppies sold in pet stores, which generally manifest disorders, more or less important, related to separation anxiety.
However, other factors also come into play, such as genetic predispositions, other behavioral disorders, trauma, etc.
In dogs with this disorder, separation for several hours is not possible without prior treatment.
This treatment can be medicinal in the most advanced cases (antidepressants, antianxiolytics), but can also be done through behavioral therapy.
The master, generally assisted by a canine behavior professional, will look for the causes of the disorder and try to implement solutions to reduce or eliminate them.
He will also have to follow different positive education methods to learn how to behave so that his animal can live better when he is absent.
Dogs and boredom
In dogs with no behavioral disorder, the master’s absences are not always easy to live with, and it remains necessary to work on the separation so that it does not generate stress.
Indeed, if the separation in itself is not problematic for a balanced dog, he always risks giving in to boredom during the hours of his master’s absence.
However, boredom, just like loneliness, is a real factor of anxiety in dogs who naturally need to exert themselves physically and intellectually to stay balanced.
Dogs that are deeply bored can, like dogs with separation anxiety, develop behavioral problems and, because of the stress, physical illnesses.
How to get your dog used to being left alone for several hours?
As explained above, a dog victim of separation anxiety will certainly have to undergo behavioral therapy or even, in the most serious cases, follow a drug treatment to support the loneliness.
In all other dogs, loneliness can be instilled through two stages: preparation and compensation.
Preparing your dog to be left alone
The first thing to do is to avoid creating a hyper attachment in the dog, especially if you notice that your pooch is playing glue pots, jumping up at the slightest request or constantly watching you in the waiting for a solicitation.
Even if you like being close to your pooch, you have to fight the urge to let him sleep with you, take him everywhere and answer his every cry.
The more you are present for your dog, the more he will become addicted to your presence and find it difficult to tolerate loneliness.
Of course, do not fall into excess: a dog needs to be taken care of, and the attention you give him is essential to compensate for the hours of loneliness, as we will see later.
You just have to stay measured and not brood over your pooch like a mother hen, a reflex that many masters have with small dogs, these breeds in fact supporting loneliness even less than the others. (2)
To do this, get your dog used to being alone little by little, from an early age, by gradually leaving you for a few minutes, then a few hours.
For everything to go well, the ideal is to give your pet something to amuse itself as soon as you leave it (treat, bone to gnaw on, favorite toy, etc.).
The objective is to associate your departure with something positive : when your dog sees you walk through the door, he knows that he is going to receive something that makes him happy and therefore does not feel stress, but joy.
In the same vein, it is important to desacralize your departure and your return after a few hours of absence.
Avoid heartbreaking goodbyes that cause anxiety in the animal, rather leave it quietly, distracting its attention with a toy or treat.
When you get home, don’t pay too much attention to him either, so he doesn’t spend his day waiting impatiently at the door.
Let a few minutes pass before you get interested in him, and if he doesn’t cheer you on or doesn’t react when you arrive – which is pretty rare after all – don’t approach him immediately after you walk through the door.
Compensate for the hours of solitude
For your doggie to experience your absences as well as possible, the ideal is that he takes advantage of his moments of tranquility and solitude to sleep.
This can only be done when he has sufficiently spent himself, both physically and intellectually, during your hours of presence and above all, before your absences.
The ideal is to take your dog out at least an hour in the morning before you leave, and an hour in the evening when you return.
Walks do not have to last for miles, however: all dogs do not necessarily need to walk or run for a long time, but they must be able to satisfy their thirst for stimulation and discovery of their environment.
Also, do not hurry your animal or pull on the leash with the idea of making it accelerate the pace so that it exerts itself more.
Your faithful companion will benefit much more from a walk during which he can take the time to sniff the smells he encounters.
This activity, essential to his well-being, allows him to exert himself intellectually, an exercise that many masters neglect despite its crucial aspect for the balance of a dog.
The compensation for your hours of absence must of course be adapted to each dog according to its age, state of health, sportsmanship and character.
Also, some will tolerate shorter walks, but will really need cuddles and games with their masters (Poodles, Shih Tzu…) and others will really need physical exercise (Greyhounds, American staff, etc.).
How many hours of solitude can a dog endure?
In view of the elements presented earlier in this article, you will have understood that it is impossible to determine a general number of hours of solitude that all dogs could support.
It all depends on the animal in question, its character, breed, age, athleticism and mental balance.
Some dogs will never be able to endure more than an hour or two of solitude, despite their owners’ best efforts to prepare and compensate.
Others are rather happy to laze for hours in peace while their masters are at work, without any need for preparation.
Before adopting a dog, keep in mind that nothing can guarantee that he will not develop behavioral problems when faced with loneliness, and that it is much more likely that he will not tolerate your absences rather than he lives well.
Also, if you work 8 hours a day, adopting a dog may not be a good idea, unless you plan to do everything possible to prevent him from suffering from loneliness, which often involves hire a dog-sitting service and therefore requires a certain budget.
A solution, for masters who can afford it, is to request the services of a professional or an individual who will walk your dog or keep it at home during your absence.
An expensive alternative, but really effective to allow your pooch to fight against boredom and anxiety when you are away from him.
Frequently asked questions about how long a dog can be left alone
Can I leave my dog alone in the garden?
If your garden is fully enclosed and secure, and your pooch has plenty of clean water and shelter to fight against the heat or the cold, you can leave him outside during your absences.
However, there is no indication that he will suffer less from boredom there, as he probably already knows it by heart.
Can I leave my dog alone overnight?
If your animal is accustomed to being left alone for several hours and generally sleeps peacefully at night, you can leave it alone, always leaving plenty of clean water for it.
If your dog is not used to being left alone or suffers from anxiety, I advise you to entrust him to a relative or a dog-sitter so that he does not live this experience as a trauma, which could harm to all your next attempts to teach him to be alone.
Can I leave my dog alone for 2 days?
Leaving your dog alone for more than a day is completely out of the question, because he will be unable to manage his food and water, even if you leave him reserves, and to refrain from doing his business.
If your dog usually tolerates loneliness well, you can ask someone (relative or dog-sitter) to come by to feed him, water him and take him out so that he can relieve himself and exercise himself.
If your dog can’t stand your absences, or if you’ve never tried to leave him alone, it’s possible to abandon him for more than a few hours: entrust him to a relative or a dog-sitter instead.
Which dog breeds do best when left alone?
All dogs need their masters and are likely to resent moments of loneliness.
On the other hand, all breeds can also learn to be on their own – with varying degrees of success.
However, there are two types of dogs: the big sportsmen, who will find it difficult to stay alone if their masters do not allow them to exert themselves to their fullest, and the small dogs, who will find it difficult to stay alone if their masters do not take not careful not to encourage their tendency to hyperattachment.
Do more independent dogs tolerate being left alone better?
Some breeds of dogs, especially the landraces of group 5, are known to be more independent, so much so that they are sometimes called “cat-dogs”.
If these dogs are, in fact, less likely to develop a hyper-attachment disorder which complicates, or even makes impossible, separation from their masters, they remain very sensitive to boredom and therefore will not tolerate loneliness any better than the others. if they are not properly prepared for it.
Leaving your dog alone for several hours is never easy, both for the master who feels guilty and for the dog who can very quickly become anxious in the face of boredom and loneliness.
The organization of your days must therefore be carefully considered before considering adopting a dog, especially if you are absent for 8 hours to work daily.
Remember that, regardless of its breed, it is impossible to be certain that a dog will withstand loneliness when adopting it, so be aware that, in the event that it suffered from boredom, d If you have separation anxiety or hyper-attachment disorder, you will need to find a solution to babysitting or consider behavioral therapy.
In addition, a dog that does not tolerate loneliness well will also tend to devastate your apartment or disturb the neighborhood with its complaints and barking.
Dogs who find it difficult to be left alone are, in fact, unfortunately often victims of abandonment and mistreatment.
To avoid having to separate prematurely from a dog that destroys your property or has behavioral problems due to loneliness, think carefully before considering adoption and budget what it would cost you to call on a dog-sitter. to prevent your pet from being left alone.
Does your pooch resent your absences or, on the contrary, hardly notice them? Share your experience or ask us your questions in the comments of this article!
Last words and important recommendations
To love and educate your dog is also to protect him against the vagaries of life. That’s why I highly dog health insurance as soon as possible. This will save you astronomical veterinary costs in an accident or illness.