How long can you really leave your dog home alone for?

Dogs are happiest with people around - but having our pooch with us 24/7 isn't always practical. How can we keep our beloved pets happy while we are away?

Saying goodbye to your dog every morning can be a heart breaking experience.
Those eyes… that sad whine… how could we break their little hearts like that?
You know no matter how much you reassure them you’ll be returning soon (and with treats), they almost definitely don’t have a clue what you’re saying and will be sitting forlornly at the door pining for your return.
It’s all part of the complex life of being a doggy parent.
Look, we’re not saying it’s more complicated than human parenting, but hey, having responsibility for another living being is rough (dare we say, ruff) – and it’s about to get a whole lot more complicated.
We know that dogs are pack animals and they are happiest when people are around, so leaving them alone for long periods of time is obviously not recommended.
But how long is too long for your dog to be left alone? Experts suggestthat at an estimate, you shouldn’t leave your dogs at home alone for longer than 3-4 hours. We say estimate here because that number also depends on the dog in question.
Puppies, for example, should not be left alone for long periods of time – a maximum of two hours is recommended, and some adult dogs can be left alone for 6 hours. It’s about understanding the needs of your dog.
Full-time workers are probably having collective heart attacks right now.
Not everyone is always going to be able to meet those time frames, and while we don't recommend leaving your dogs alone for more than four hours, there are things you can do make sure your dog is at the very least content in your absence.

Before you leave the house

Priority number one is making sure your dog is house trained and has access to adequate food and water for the time you're away.
Before you leave your dog alone make sure to put it through some vigorous morning exercise. An under-stimulated and lonely dog is a dangerous combination for your dogs emotional well-being but also for the longevity of your shoes and furniture.
Check with your vet to find out the right amount of exercise for your pooch.

While you're away

It may seem obvious but they key here is keeping your dog occupied and as stimulated as possible while you're away.
That could be with entertaining toys or it could be by leaving the radio or TV on for them in your absence.
Ideally you (or someone you know and trust) will be able to check on your dog every 3-4 hours throughout the day.

When you come back

The purest of all pure joy is your dog greeting you after you've been away for the day.
After a quick cuddle and some baby talk, it's important to give your dog another walk as soon as possible.
Play with it and reward it for being such a good dog all day long.
Then be prepared to start the full emotional roller-coaster all over again tomorrow.