Puppy and dog companionship

Puppy and dog companionship

Why do dogs need lots of friends? How long is it safe to leave a dog alone for? Should you leave your dog with a trusted friend or take them on holiday?


In this section we’ll look at:
  • The ideal approach to companionship for your puppy or dog
  • Why is dog companionship important?
  • How long can I leave my dog alone for?
  • Who should care for my dog if I go on holiday?
  • Research

How long can I leave my dog alone for

How long can I leave my dog alone for?

It’s recommended that four hours is the longest that dogs should routinely be left alone for. Every dog will be different, dependant on how old they are and what they are used to.  For example, four hours would generally be too long for a very active, young puppy. Boredom can cause dogs to bark or be destructive in your home.   

Try to think about how long your dog would routinely need to be left alone, before you get one. If you work long hours, a long way from home, a different pet might suit you better. If you know you will regularly need to leave your dog alone there are some things you can do to help your dog.

When you first get your dog, try to socialise them as much as possible.  This means exposing them to everyday sights and sounds so they are not afraid. Being left alone is one of the things your new dog will need to learn is normal. You can train your dog by gradually increasing the amount of time they are left alone to get them used to it.

You might be able to pop home during you lunch or break times to break up the time. You could also consider asking a trusted friend or neighbour to pop in and see them. There are also lots of professional dog walking or pet sitting services available where someone can come to your home to walk your dog and spend time with them whilst you are out. 

You can find pet sitters and dog walkers through the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Doggy day care and other day boarding services might be available in your area where you can drop your dog off to be cared for whilst you are busy. You need to remember to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date as there will often be more than one dog present.

There might be the occasional time when you have to leave your dog alone for longer than normal, which is a change from their normal routine. Try to make sure they have interactive toys or feeders which will keep them entertained but check these are safe for them to be left alone with.  

Make sure you leave your dog in a safe area of the house so if they do try to chew or destroy anything they cannot be injured. For some dogs a dog flap into a secure garden is a good way to make sure they can get out to the bathroom but if this isn’t possible a friend will need to come a let them out at regular intervals.

Some dogs suffer from a condition called separation anxiety when they become extremely anxious and distressed when away from their owner. This is a severe behavioural problem and it’s best that you speak to your vet or a professional behaviourist if you think your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety.

If you are going away overnight or for longer periods of time such as on holiday you need to make necessary arrangements such as a boarding kennels or pet sitting service. Remember that your dog will need to be up to date with their vaccinations before they can go to kennels.

You can find out more about how to care for your pet whilst you’re on holiday in our Holiday and Your Pet Leaflet

Why is dog companionship important

Why is dog companionship important?

Dogs are very social animals – they don’t like to be alone and need plenty of human companionship. If you’re considering getting another dog as a companion, think carefully about the additional time and money needed.
Who should care for my dog if I go on holiday

Who should care for my dog if I go on holiday?

If you go on holiday, you need to arrange for someone responsible to care for your dog. Dogs can be booked into kennels, or a friend or professional “pet-sitter” could look after them. 

Well-run kennels won’t allow dogs to board if they haven’t been vaccinated, so ensure you check your dog’s vaccinations are up to date well in advance.

If a friend or “pet sitter” is looking after your dog while you’re away, make sure they know about your pet’s requirements. Leave a list of information, such as how much food and exercise your pet needs, any medication they might be on and how to give it – and your vet’s contact details for emergencies.

You can find a pet sitter through the National Association of Registered Pet Sitters. Call 01322 683 564 or visit their website to find a local pet sitter


Research

Research

The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report

Since 2011, we’ve surveyed over  53,000 pet owners, veterinary professionals and children, giving us a huge insight into the wellbeing of pets in the UK. Here are the findings for dogs and their need for company. 
You can read our full PAW Report here.

Overview

 A quarter of all UK dogs are not getting the recommended amount of companionship.  Being left alone for long periods of time can cause dogs to be  lonely, distressed and bored, day in, day out. This can lead to problems including destructive behaviours and separation anxiety. Dogs need companionship and stimulation to safeguard their mental wellbeing.

Key findings from our most recent report:

HOME ALONE – 2.3 million dogs are left alone for longer than recommended every day:

  • 25% of owners leave their dog alone in  the house for five or more hours on a typical weekday. 
  • The average time owners leave their dog alone on a typical weekday varies by the age of the owner: 31% of 18 to 24 year olds typically leave their dog for more than five hours, while just 12% of those aged 55 and over do. 
  • Our research shows that 28% of dog owners believe that it’s acceptable to leave a dog home alone for 6-10 hours on a typical day.

Leaflet