Many working people who consider getting a dog will research which breeds of dog are better suited to being left alone. But will this approach guarantee you get a dog that won’t suffer from separation anxiety?
There are people that will tell you that no breeds of dog are suited to being left home alone during the day because they are all pack animals, while others will tell you the opposite and say that a happy, healthy, well-trained dog of any breed could be okay.
What is clear is that it’s hard to generalize about breeds because there are always exceptions. On one website I saw a recommendation that the Italian Greyhound would adapt well to being left alone and on another it was listed as a breed that would be poorly suited. On a forum someone was advising against leaving Collies alone as they were too high energy, and yet a dog owner on the same forum said she left her Collie for 8 hours a day and it had never been a problem.
It is also worth remembering that most dog breed guides will give you general characteristics of the dog which are the standard of what the breed should be, but this is not a guarantee of how your individual dog will be.
Consider a Dog’s Temperament, Energy Levels and Age
All dogs have different temperaments even within the same litter. So perhaps looking for a dog with a calm temperament of whatever breed you are interested in, is a good place to start. If you are considering a rescue dog, make sure you ask the staff at the centre as they will be well aware of the dog’s nature.
A dog’s energy levels might also affect how well a dog can be left alone. Low energy dogs are often happy to sleep for hours, while high energy dogs that are looking for more stimulation might get up to a lot more mischief when left to their own devices.
Age is another factor that could affect how well a dog adapts to being left alone for long periods of time. Young puppies are not suitable to be left alone for long stretches of time and even toilet trained puppies can’t hold on for much longer than a few hours. Again, a rescue dog might be a good place to find a dog that is beyond puppy stage. Older dogs (over 3 years of age) are often thought to be more settled and less prone to be anxious about being left alone.
Training to Stop Dog Separation Anxiety
Outside of the factors discussed above, the training you do with your dog will be the biggest determining factor in how well they accept being left at home alone.
One area of training worth considering is learning how to show your dog that you are the pack leader as it is thought that a lot of anxiety is caused by a dog believing that they are leader of the pack and so responsible for the safety of the rest of their pack. When you leave them home alone they panic about where you have disappeared to and can cause enormous damage trying to get out so they can come and find you.
Crate training can also be useful as using a crate can give dogs a sense of security while you are out. It not only keeps a dog out of danger, it provides peace of mind for the owner and acts as a den for a dog. Remember to introduce your dog to a crate gradually and slowly build up the time they spend in it alone.
Whatever breed you choose and whatever approach you take to leaving your dog home alone, remember that each dog has their own personality, and while there are steps you can take in general for any dog, you need to find methods that suit the dog you pick.