How long can a dog stay alone? Expert explains
Mülheim. Many working dog owners face the same problem every day: What do I actually do with my dog when I’m not at home? This then gives rise to the question of how long a four-legged friend can actually stay at home alone. Is there a law that regulates this? Can I leave my darling alone in my apartment for several hours? We clarify.
Leaving the dog alone for 6 or more hours: THAT says the expert
Basically it is not easy to leave a dog alone for several hours. After all, the four-legged friends are pack animals. Accordingly, leaving your dog or puppy alone for a day doesn’t seem like a good idea. “Personally, I think that the limit is six or seven hours,” says the certified dog trainer Sarah Meurer from the Ruhr-Dog school in Mülheim. But she wouldn’t leave a dog alone in the apartment any longer. In principle, however, the animal’s personality would be decisive.
The house dog as a companion for humans:
- Domestication took place around 15,000 to 100,000 years ago
- the wild ancestral form is the wolf
- there are around 500 million domestic dogs worldwide
- In Germany alone, 9 million live as pets
Dogs react very differently to the absence of their owners. Some tend to have fewer problems staying home alone. Others respond to the absence of their owners with yowling and whining after just ten minutes – their fear of separation is much more pronounced. The top priority should therefore be that the dog gets along well on its own during the time and does not have any stress.
Age, breed and the urge to move all play a role: Which breed of dog can be left alone longer?
How long you can leave a dog alone also depends on the age, breed and urge to move around the dog. For example, according to the dog trainer, it is difficult to leave Czechoslovak wolfhounds at home alone. This breed of dog is very focused on its owners. Accordingly, it is likely that separation anxiety is more pronounced than in other four-legged friends. But not only the breed of dog is decisive in how well the animal gets along on its own.
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The age of the dogs also plays an important role. “The younger the dog, the more difficult it is to leave it alone,” says the dog trainer from Mülheim. So that means: You shouldn’t leave a puppy at home alone – who wants to leave a cute little puppy behind? But it doesn’t always work with adult dogs either. In addition, the urge to move also plays an important role. Dogs that need a lot of exercise shouldn’t be left alone for so long. Dogs are social creatures and thus animals that are oriented towards humans and their fellow species.
Leaving the dog alone: What options do working dog owners have?
For the animals, however, it is not only problematic to be separated from their owners, but also that they have to comply all the time, as nobody goes for a walk with them.
“Someone who works 10 hours a day shouldn’t have a dog or at least look for alternatives,” says the dog trainer. The alternatives are, for example, dog sitters. There are, among other things, walkers or day care centers for dogs. Here the dogs have the chance to relieve each other and also meet conspecifics (which can also be good for the pack animals).
Leaving dogs alone: There are training options
However, if you are not sure whether your dog is really that relaxed on its own, the Mülheim dog trainer recommends placing small cameras to monitor your four-legged friend in the apartment. You could then access this via the app and check whether your pet can really stay home alone as well as you think or whether it suffers from separation anxiety after all.
If your dog does not get along well in your absence, there are training options – for example in dog schools. The Mülheim dog trainer also offers this. However, Meurer warns: “Something like this can take a long time.” Before the dog can then stay alone, a stress-free working day must be ensured – including for the dog.
Is there an animal welfare law that specifies how many hours a dog can be alone?
In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for rules and laws relating to animals such as dogs. In Germany there is an animal protection law that sets the rules. But is there a law that regulates how long you can leave your dog alone at home? In the Animal Welfare Act it says, for example: “Whoever keeps, looks after or has to look after an animal,
- Must feed and care for the animal in accordance with its species and needs, and accommodate it in a manner appropriate to its behavior,
- Must not restrict the animal’s ability to move around the species in such a way that it causes pain or avoidable suffering or damage “
So far there is no law that stipulates exactly how many hours a dog can stay at home alone. Last year the Federal Ministry of Agriculture launched a draft ordinance which should provide clearer rules for dog owners. Accordingly, there should be a minimum run-out time for dogs. Neither the weather nor your work are considered a reason to violate them. “A dog should therefore be given exercise outside of a kennel at least twice a day for a total of at least one hour in the open air (e.g. walk, exercise in the garden, etc.). This is to ensure that dogs are offered sufficient exercise and contact with environmental stimuli in the future, ”said a press release from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in August 2020.
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Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said of the new rules for dog owners: “Pets are not cuddly toys – their needs must be taken into account. It is important to ensure that dogs are kept in a species-appropriate manner. For example, that they get enough exercise and are not left alone for too long. We are now adapting the requirements for their posture to recommendations from experts. In this way we ensure an improvement in animal welfare and animal welfare. “
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t let a dog sitter do the walking for you. (gb and dl)