The leaving of dogs(4 Posts)
This is inspired by another thread, but thought I'd ask on a new thread. Our puppy is 15 weeks old today, and we've had him three weeks. On four occasions I've had to leave him in the evening for 2 hours (school stuff). He generally sleeps in the evening after his dinner/play, so I haven't felt too bad about it and wouldn't yet leave him for any longer. I'm at home full time, so he will rarely be left for more than a couple of hours but will be kennelled a couple of times a year as we have to travel to visit family. Growing up, we had a dog and when she was 7 my mother had to go in to full time employment, so she was left for 8 hours a day sometimes (sometimes less, depending on when we got home from school/father got in from work). We had a huge garden, and in the summer she would be outside with access to a shed for shelter, but in the winter she would be in the house. It never struck me as cruel, and she didn't seem distressed by it. So how long is it ok to leave a dog for regularly? And what about that one off event which means they have to be left? How do you manage what your dog needs with how your life is (iyswim)?
Our dog has only been with us a week, and is a rescue pup of 5 months...so far I have only left him for a maximum of 1.5 hours, when he was fed and walked and sleepy, and in his crate (which he loves).
But my last dog, once settled, I used to have to leave to work 4 days per week - I got a dog walker to come and take him out for 1-2 hours on those days, so he was never left alone for more than 4 hours maximum, usually less. Personally, I think 4 hours is plenty of alone time for a single dog on a regular basis
I do remember one or two emergency type situations where I just couldn't get home on time (traffic accident, eg) and Dingo coped for 5-6 hours, but was busting for a wee by the time I got back and let me know (loudly - he had a bit of Basenji in him and was a big 'talker') he was not impressed!
My view is that you have to look at the big picture rather than a simplistic 4 hr rule.
E.g. it's no use feeling smug that your dog is only ever left alone for 2 hours at a time if you then spend 10 minutes with her and then leave her alone for another 2 hours. (Unlikely but you get what I'm saying!) Or if she gets 5 minutes outside and you then ignore her. That dog is not having a great life.
Equally they will be absolutely fine if you leave them occasionally (I stress occasionally) for 5-6 hours if they've had a great walk before, and have been given a chance to go to the toilet right before you go and if when you're at home they get loads of interaction and regular quality exercise, ie. a good long walk with you, not just letting them into the garden.
Having said all that I use 4 hours as a rule of thumb but I don't beat myself up if it's 4.5! My dog has on rare occasions been left for 5-6 hours but I've planned accordingly - i.e. we had a 2 hour walk, came back with over an hour to spare before we were going out so she could have a big drink and then we took her out right before she went. So she probably slept most of that 5-6 hours.
I'm looking after some puppies at the moment and I know (because I'm at home all day) that they sleep for about 3 hours every afternoon and I don't hear a peep out of them. That's just their routine as by then they've had plenty of food, exercise etc. So I know that I could leave them then as they're safe in their crate and there's water and puppy pads in there etc.
The key for me is to know your dog and ensure that they have a wonderful life filled with interaction, exercise, affection etc. Far more important than an arbitrary rule of 4 hours with no consideration as to the rest of their life.
Hope that all makes sense!
Just re-read my post - I want to make it clear that I DO think 4 hours is about the max!
What I meant is that people should also look at what they do with their dog when they're with them - not feel that they've fulfilled their responsibilities by the mere fact that doggie isn't left alone longer than 4 hours.
So if they're given plenty of exercise (real, proper, walks in the woods type exercise, not a 10 minute round the block walk) and affection and great nutrition and love and more love and none of that Cesar Milan rubbish, then it won't hurt them if you occasionally leave them for 5 hours.
Puppies of course shouldn't be left for 5 hours!
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