How much attention do dogs need? And do dogs need alone time?

We're taking a look at how much attention you should be giving your dog. Is there such a thing as too much, or will they be endlessly happy with you by their side? Do dogs need alone time and, if so, what's the deal?

No matter how sociable your dog is, it will need a safe place to retreat to.
No matter how sociable your dog is, it will need a safe place to retreat to.  © 123RF/Iciakp

A retreat for dogs is more than just a place for them to sleep all by themselves. It's somewhere that the attention dies down, where the stresses of everyday life give way to a sense of relaxation that we humans could only dream of.

Indeed, dogs might not need much alone time, but the time they get needs to be provided in the right way.

Do dogs need to be left alone sometimes and, if so, what is a healthy amount? Also, how can you leave your dog home alone safely?

Dog's startling DNA test results makes his owner shed happy tears
Dogs Dog's startling DNA test results makes his owner shed happy tears

In this dog guide, TAG24 will take a look at the amount of attention dogs typically need.

Let's share the love with our prized pooch!

Do dogs need alone time?

While dogs don't need alone time in the same way that we need it to decompress, they do need a safe place to call their own. It's extremely important that every human owner provides a safe bed or a little room for their dog to spend time in and remain undisturbed.

In households with many children or visitors, the environment can become quite stressful for our beloved four-legged friends. To keep away from such turbulence and remain anxiety-free, such dogs need to be given a designated area away from any children, visitors, or loud noises.

It needs to be clean, warm, cozy, and relaxing. It also needs to be available to your doggo 24/7, so it can't be a room that you use as a study, for example. Instead, it needs to be a place undisturbed by human activity as much as possible and perfectly set up to give your canine companion that little bit of alone time it so desperately deserves.

So no, dogs don't need to be left alone for certain amounts of time per day. Instead, they should simply have somewhere to retreat to whenever they feel that they need some space.

How much attention do dogs need?

Every single day, you should be providing your dog with a minimum of two hours purely dedicated to doggy-human social time. This includes activities such as walking, petting, chilling together on the couch and watching TV, training, or even playing games. It's vitally important, and not something to be overlooked.

Speaking to the American Kennel Club, veterinarian Dr. Vint Virgo explained that while "some dogs will do better with more alone time than others," it's vitally important that a dog gets social time with their humans because there are "behavioral" needs associated with social interaction.

This also goes hand-in-hand with making sure that dogs don't get left alone for most of the day every single day. As Virga says, dogs are "very social animals" and "for a dog to spend all of their day alone is too much." Of course, everyone has to work, so there are various things you can do to improve your dog-work-life balance.

Your dog needs to be given plenty of attention, at least two fully focused hours a day, but also needs to be around its humans as much as possible (for most of the day). That might seem like a challenge to achieve, but it can be done!

It is very important that you provide your dog with a retreat to escape to.
It is very important that you provide your dog with a retreat to escape to.  © Unsplash/Dom Heartley

Leaving dogs at home alone

If you need to leave your dog at home alone, there are a few things that you can do to make it more comfortable and less stressful. The first thing, of course, is to get used to your doggo's idiosyncrasies so that you can plan a routine and setup that will be equipped to cater to its individual needs and wants.

These are our top five tips for leaving your doggo at home:

  • 1. Privacy: Make sure your dog has a private space to be alone in that is a decent distance from any passers-by and is separated from any other pets you may have.
  • 2. Give it comfort: Provide a dog bed that is extremely comfortable, cozy, and warm. Make sure that it will be particularly easy on your dog's joints, as your canine companion will spend a lot of time in it.
  • 3. The size of your space: Dogs shouldn't be kept in matchstick apartments. Instead, they should have space to stretch their legs and wander around. Preferably, they should have a dog-proofed garden to explore as well.
  • 4. Temperature: This is simple and pretty obvious – if your house is too cold, make sure you warm it up, if your house is too warm, make sure to cool it down. You don't want your dog to be too hot or too cold all day while you're gone!
  • 5. Make it a habit: Keep things habitual so that your dog knows what the routine is going to be. Don't change locations too much or the time that you leave for work/come home.

Important: Dogs can suffer from some pretty serious problems when regularly left alone. If you ever get worried about its mental or physical health, make sure to take it to the veterinarian.

How long can dogs be left alone?

Dogs can get stressed too, so they shouldn't be left alone for long.
Dogs can get stressed too, so they shouldn't be left alone for long.  © Unsplash/Alexander Gray

Dogs should not be left alone for any longer than your standard eight-hour shift. This is actually already a little too long, with most specialists believing that your beloved doggo should not spend more than six consecutive hours alone in any given day. In many cases this is impossible, of course, hence the eight-hour suggestion.

If you opt to get yourself a dog, it might be time to look at your working options. Can you work your job from home, can you take your dog to the office with you, is your office close enough to home that you can take your dog for a walk during your lunch break? These are all important considerations, if sometimes tricky.

Every dog is at risk of separation anxiety if they are left alone for too long on a regular basis. For dogs of working people, this risk is especially acute. If this describes you, it might be time to get advice from your veterinarian.

Dog alone time is also important

Assuming that you have provided your dog with a comforting, private, and safe place to be alone, that independent time can be extremely important for their mental health. They need safe spaces, and places where they can be and relax without the stresses that plague their normal living environment.

After all, everybody gets stressed from time to time, and no matter how much we love our home and partners, that bit of alone time every now and again can be an absolute godsend. It's the same for our beloved doggos!

Cover photo: 123RF/Iciakp

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