How Long Can Australian Shepherds Be Left Alone?
August 24, 2021 2021-08-24 4:36How Long Can Australian Shepherds Be Left Alone?
Any owner of an Australian Shepherd knows how high maintenance they can be, but what happens when you need to go out?
As a general rule, dogs shouldn’t be left by themselves for more than four hours at a time. So, let’s take a look at how to keep your Aussie safe and happy when they’re home alone.
Table of Contents
How long can Australian Shepherds be left alone?
Dog’s Trust, the UK’s leading dog charity, recommends that you don’t leave your dog home alone for longer than four hours at a time. Elderly dogs may differ based on the condition of their health.
Aussie pups below the age of 6 months old shouldn’t be left on their own for more than one hour per month of their age. This is because their bladders work by the same rule!
Should I get an Aussie if I work full time?
When you have a dog, they rely on you for everything – and not just food and walks. They need lots of love, social interaction, and play. As a full-time worker, if this is not something you feel you can provide, your Aussie could become emotionally neglected.
However, if you’re able to spend lots of quality time together when you are at home, it can work. That said, you shouldn’t adopt a rescue Aussie with special needs if you work full time and live alone.
Many owners who work full time find it beneficial to plan ahead, work from home where possible, and almost 20% of owners in the US even take their dogs to work with them at least once a month! Of course, not everyone can do that, but it doesn’t hurt to make inquiries.
What should you do with your Aussie when you go out?
Young Aussie pups should be left in a crate or pen until they’re old enough to know right from wrong, otherwise they could endanger themselves by chewing or knocking over something dangerous. Alternatively, you could invest in a dog gate that keeps them confined to a small, safe area of the house. Either way, your pup should have enough room to stand up, lay down, and move around.
Be sure to leave adult Aussies with access to their bed, drinking water, and some toys to keep them company (as long as your dog won’t destroy them). If you can’t just leave them roaming free in the house, make sure they’re in a well-lit part of the home with windows and that the house is secure. Never leave your Aussie shut in one room, especially when they’re rescue dogs.
If you’re going to be out for longer than 4 hours at a time, ask a close friend or relative to come over and check on them, or take them to a family member’s house for the day. You could even try leaving the radio on so that they feel less alone.
If you’re going to be away from home on a regular basis, you could also consider hiring a pet sitter, dog walker, or taking your Aussie to doggy daycare.
Do Australian Shepherds get lonely?
Aussies are very sociable dogs. They can feel lonely when they’re left alone often and are prone to suffering from separation anxiety. This is when dogs feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety over being apart from their owners.
It is a common puppyhood phase, but can also come about from being bored, lonely, or coming from a background of neglect or abuse. It can also lead to destructive behaviors out of distress, such as chewing or ripping up household furniture, excessive barking, and going to the toilet indoors. This can be especially difficult for Australian Shepherd owners who live in apartments.
No matter how frustrated you feel, you should try not to react angrily to these destructive behaviors, as it is a symptom of a bigger issue that you, as the owner, need to fix. Plus, the attention can actually encourage them. Instead, show them that this kind of behavior gets no attention and try confining them to a safe place in the home until you can fix it.
To prevent/overcome separation anxiety, you need to instill a sense of confidence and independence in your Aussie. Start by leaving the house for a small amount of time and slowly increase the length of time that you are gone each day. This way, they get to learn quickly that you always come back. Never make a big deal of leaving, but always make a fuss of them when you come back so that they know there’s something to look forward to when you go out.
Encourage solo play with puzzle toys and treat dispensing balls to build their confidence. This shows them that spending time alone can be fun and rewarding. As long as the toy is safe, try leaving them with it when you go out to form a positive association with spending time apart.
If their anxiety is severe, you could even invest in some anti-anxiety products to aid your training, like herbal supplements or plug-in diffusers. You could also try using a pet camera that connects to your phone, alerts you to noise, and lets you see what’s going on when you’re not at home. Some of them even let you talk to your pets through your phone.
Do Aussies get bored when they’re left alone?
Australian Shepherds are highly susceptible to boredom because they are super intelligent dogs. However, they don’t get bored just because they’re on their own. Aussies get bored when they’re underworked, and this can lead to self-destructive behaviors like limb biting when they are left to their own devices.
On average, a fully grown Aussie needs at least two hours of exercise every day, preferably split into two or three walks. Young pups need 5 minutes per month of their age twice a day, and elderly Aussies need gradually less exercise as they age, following your vet’s advice.
To keep walks interesting and engaging, vary the location and try to do different activities, like running, hiking, swimming, and playing games of fetch. Try to interact with lots of friendly dogs, too.
Exercising the mind is just as important. Aussies need to be challenged and entertained regularly with fun games, toys, and learning new things. They love to play games that exercise their natural herding abilities, so fetch and chase are always firm favorites. Some owners even like to set up mini agility courses in their backyards or teach them new tricks, like the names of their favorite toys.
Hide & seek and the cup game are two popular games among Aussie owners. To play hide and seek, hide somewhere in your home while your dog sits and waits in another room. Or, hide their favorite toy or some treats. Then, call them to come and find you or the hidden objects.
To play the cup game, place two empty cups side by side, upside-down on the floor in front of your Aussie, make sure they’re watching and put a treat underneath one of them. Then, switch the cups around and ask your dog to find the treat. If your Aus is a pro, try switching the cups twice or add another one into the mix!
Toys are another great way to challenge your Aussie. Invest in a few mentally stimulating toys like puzzles, feeders, and treat dispensers. Toys that engage the senses with different sounds, textures, and flashing lights are good, too, especially for pups and Aussies with disabilities.
The bottom line
Australian Shepherds are bundles of fun, but they are also highly sensitive dogs. You should never leave an Aussie alone for more than four hours at a time, and try to make the most out of every day to prevent boredom and loneliness when they’re left to their own devices.
Writer and Border Collie Mom
Laura is a dog-lover with an animal-related degree and plenty of hands on experience. She is passionate about dog health & welfare and wants to arm owners with all of the essential info they need!
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