Is it ok to leave your dog outside home alone while you are at work? This all depends on your circumstances and your particular dog. Many dogs enjoy being outside, and many dogs can live in the yard all of the time. However, it is important for you to be aware of certain safety and behavior issues that need to be taken into consideration.
You may be considering leaving your dog outside while you are at work because they completely destroy the house or toilet everywhere. The problem is that by putting them outside doesn’t mean that their behavior issues will be solved. It may cause more problems such as barking all day, digging up the yard or escaping. Working with a dog trainer or taking them to doggie daycare would be options to consider.
Considerations for leaving your dog outside home alone
Your particular dog
Some breeds are bred to be outside dogs such as herding and working breeds or even sporting breeds such as spaniels. It doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy spending time inside. Many other breeds just are not suitable for being left outside unsupervised such as many of the small and toy breed dogs. Ultimately it will depend upon your particular dog.
It is crucial to ensure that your dog is not able to escape your property. A bored and frustrated dog can very resourceful at finding ways to get themselves out. This may include jumping or climbing the fence, digging under the fence or even breaking the fence.
If they do manage to make an escape it is important that your dog is microchipped and registered with the local governing body that oversees animal management. It is also a good idea to use a GPS collar so locating your dog is much easier.
If your dog is trying to dig under the fence to escape you can find a solution to this problem here.
This is more of a concern than many people realize. Unfortunately, there are some horrible people out there and dogs are often stolen as a bait dog for dog fighting. Some dogs are stolen simply because someone likes your particular breed of dog to keep themselves or to sell for money. Take precautions to ensure your property is secure such as putting a padlock on your gates to stop access to the property.
Other behavior issues
A bored, frustrated or lonely dog can act up which can cause you trouble with your neighbors or the local dog ranger. This can include nuisance barking, charging the fence at people and other dogs passing by or as mentioned above escaping.
Whether or not it is a good idea to leave your dog outside while you are at work will be dependant on the weather. If you live in a region that has extreme cold it would be cruel to leave your dog outside. Certain breeds such as Huskies, of course, were bred for extremely cold conditions, However you would still need to provide suitable shelter.
In cold climates consider a heating pad for their kennel or provide them with a warm coat.
You will need to plan how you are going to keep your dog confined to your property. Do you have a fully fenced section? Ideally, it is best to keep your dog in the backyard. This is to prevent your dog barking and fence charging at people who are passing by.
If your section is not fully fenced there are a number of other options to keep your dog in. This may include keeping them in a dog run with a kennel, confining them to the garage or using an electric dog fence system.
It is important that your dog receives adequate exercise for their needs. Many people think that if you have a large backyard that your dog will exercise themselves. This is simply not the case. If your dog is going to be spending time home alone it is important that they receive plenty of exercise so they are tired and are not bored.
Mental stimulation and enrichment is just as important as physical activity and can, in fact, tire a dog just as much.
If you are unable to provide the exercise your dog needs it is a good idea to use a dog walking and exercise service. The result will be well worth the investment.
See here for a guide to how much exercise your particular dog needs on a daily basis.
What your dog will need
Provide your dog with an area that they can go to sleep or feel safe and secure if they are anxious. This ideally will be their kennel or shelter.
You need to provide for your dog shelter where they can go to sleep and get protection from the weather. This may be access to a garage or a kennel. The ideal size for a dog kennel is high enough for them to be able to stand and wide enough for them to be able to turn around comfortably. If a kennel is too big a dog is less likely to use it as it doesn’t give them a feeling of being snug and secure.
If confining your dog to the garage make sure they don’t have access to areas in your garage where there may be toxic chemicals for your car such as antifreeze, gasoline, or sharp tools that could seriously injure or kill your dog. Also be aware if the temperature in your garage gets high on hot days.
Ensure that you leave food for your dog especially if you are not going to be home at their meal time. It is a good idea to have food available even if you are likely to be back in time just in case you are held up. Dogs like routine and structure to make them feel secure. It is best not to just leave their food in a bowl for them to eat whenever they want. Most dogs will just eat it all up at the beginning of the day even if they are full. Many dogs simply don’t know when to stop until all the food is gone.
Free feeding is generally not a good practice to get your dog into for a number of reasons
- it puts your dog at risk of becoming overweight
- free feeding can make it difficult to monitor your dog’s appetite and eating habits.
- having access to food whenever they want can lead to resource guarding and food aggressive behavior
- if they are eating just as much as they want they are likely to produce more pooh.
It is best to use an automatic dog feeder with a timer so their meals can be available at the right time.
View automatic dog feeders on Amazon
It is important to ensure that your dog has access to fresh drinking water at all times. A standard bowl can accidentally be spilled or run dry.
This is a problem as you don’t want your dog not to have access to water all day leaving them dehydrated, especially in hot weather. It is important to use a non-spill water bowl for your dog. My personal recommendation and the bowl I use for my own dog is the Torus water bowl.
See Torus water bowls on Amazon
The Torus bowl stores up to 2L of water in its reservoir walls and filters it to remove any contaminants. Each time your puppy takes a drink, replacement water automatically flows from the storage area into the drinking well. The enclosed water storage area also aids to keep the water cool. There is no power or batteries required.
Provide ways to occupy them
It is important to provide your dog with toys and activities that will occupy them to prevent boredom and give them mental enrichment. Mental stimulation can use as much energy as physical activity. To learn about the 6 types of mental enrichment for your dog see here.
Some ways to occupy your dog when home alone may include:
Chewing is a natural instinctive behavior for dogs and has many benefits. It not only keep them occupied and provides dental health benefits. Chewing is also a great stress release for a dog. When a dog chews it releases endorphins to their brain giving them a good feeling and makes them calm. For more on the benefits of chewing and best chew toys for dogs see here.
Digging is also a natural behavior for dogs. Obviously, you don’t want them just digging up your yard. If your dog is a digger it is a good idea to provide them with a digging area such as a digging pit or with toys that simulate the digging behavior. For more on this check out dog toys for diggers.
A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your Pitbull to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Tug of War is a great way for a dog to release and burn pent-up energy while at the same time giving their muscles a good workout.
View Spring Poles on Amazon
Check out the video to see this in action.
A Jolly Ball is a nearly indestructible ball for dogs that they push and chase around. I say “nearly” as nothing is guaranteed indestructible. They come in a variety of sizes, styles and are also available with a handle or rope attached for tug of war. Check out the video to see what great exercise and fun they are for dogs.
View Jolly Balls on Amazon
Fun with water
Many dogs love to play with the hose or splash around in the water. Especially if the weather is hot. Try an Automatic Doggie Water Fountain. These simply attach to your garden hose and are paw activated. your dog steps on the pedal and out shoots the water. Another option is to set up a paddling pool for your dog to splash and play in.
Another option is to set up a paddling pool for your dog to splash and play in. See paddling pools on Amazon.
Automatic Ball Launchers
Dogs love to play fetch. Ball Launchers are a battery or power operated machine that shoots balls across the yard or the house (generally 10-30 feet) so that your dog can chase and fetch them. they can be used indoors or outside.
Your dog can be trained to return the balls to the funnel-shaped opening in the machine and enjoy hours of entertainment fetching balls without any involvement from you at all. Read “Automatic Ball Launchers for dogs” to learn more.
Make up some chicken or beef stock and splash it around the yard. Dilute the stock quite a lot as many stocks are high in sodium (salt) or use a salt-free brand of stock.
Alternatively, hide some tasty treats or chews around the backyard so your dog can find them.
Kongs and Puzzle toys
Kong toys for dogs and puzzle toys are a great way to provide a mental challenge and stimulation for your dog, especially when home alone in the yard. To add another twist to this activity stuff several Kongs or puzzle toys and hide them around the yard. To learn more about these read “Top Puzzle toys for dogs” and “How to use a Kong for dogs”
For more ways to entertain a dog home alone see here.
Check up on your dog
Arrange to have a neighbor, friend or family member pop in for a visit to check how your dog is going and to give them some company. Even if you are unable to have somebody check up on your dog it is often a good idea to speak to your neighbors and give them a contact number if there are any concerns. Alternatively, there are many pet minding services that can provide this service for you.
Monitor them with a pet camera
With a pet camera, you can check in with your dog and even have direct interaction with them. Many pet cameras have two communication so you can speak to your dog. They also have a microphone and can send notifications to your phone if your dog is barking. Other dog cameras can provide even more interaction including giving your dog a treat. For the best pet camera for dogs see here.
For a Complete Guide to Leaving a Dog Home Alone see here.