Leaving our Australian shepherd home alone isn’t something we want to do, but often have to. It’s important to know how long is too long, and the adverse effects of too much isolation. All of your questions will be answered below.
Australian Shepherds should not be left alone for more than 3-5 hours at a time. Australian shepherds need a lot of human interaction and can quickly develop anxiety or behavioral issues when frequently left alone.
Can Australian Shepherds Be Left Alone?
Of course, there are times when you will have to leave your Australian Shepherd home alone, and that’s perfectly okay and normal.
After all, our dogs can’t come with us everywhere. However, it is very important to limit how long and often she is left alone.
Dogs are social animals and crave interaction from both humans and other canines, but some breeds require more social interaction and attention than others.
Australian Shepherds are one of the breeds that crave a lot of interaction and do not cope well when left alone.
How Long Can I Leave My Australian Shepherd Alone?
The next logical question many owners ask is how long can their Aussie be left alone. And the truth is that all Aussies will have their own tolerance.
Your Australian Shepherd may be fine for only 30 minutes, but another Aussie may be ok for 5 hours.
In order for you to find out, it’s necessary to observe your Aussie every time you come home. After a while, you’ll get a sense of how long is too long.
When you come home, carefully assess how she/he is reacting to your arrival. How does she look? Does she look like she’s just woken up from a nice nap, or is she overly anxious with evidence of destructive behavior?
Signs to look out for that indicate you were gone too long:
● Destruction, chewing items she shouldn’t have been, scratches around the door or windows
● Hearing howling or whining as you approach your home
● When you arrive she’s very erratic and anxious (but not happy) this means cowering, shivering, and generally nervous
● There’s urine on the floor despite eliminating before you went out
Negative Effects of Leaving Dogs Alone Too Often
So what can happen if you leave your Australian Shepherd home alone for too long too often?
There is a range of negative side effects to be aware of:
● Isolation distress
● Separation anxiety – (Hard to cure once developed)
● Destructive behavior
● Understimulation and boredom
● Stress and depression
There’s no way to tell which issue will set in first, but they are all very undesirable and will contribute to an Aussie that isn’t happy.
It’s quite sobering to realize the negative effects of leaving your dog home alone, and for many households, it’s a common occurrence.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent your Aussie from being alone for too long, which will be covered further below.
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How To Deal With Leaving Your Aussie Home Alone
Here are several ways to help keep your Aussie feeling comfortable and content while you’re at work, college, or running errands. Take a look below!
1. Get a dog sitter or ask friends and family
The best way to keep your Australian Shepherd happy is to keep the time he spends alone within his tolerance. This is by far the most effective and important tip on the list.
If you know he’s okay up to 3 hours, but you’re going to be gone for more than that, hire a dog sitter to come round and keep him company, or ask a friend or family member to visit him.
Nothing beats having human company. This is the best thing you can do for your Aussie and will prevent all of the negative health issues associated with being left alone.
2. Create a dedicated space for your Aussie
It’s highly recommended to develop a dedicated space that your Aussie goes to when home alone. A dedicated space with his crate, blankets, toys, and water will act like his “den” and will allow him to feel safe, secure, and comfortable.
Make this a space that’s as far away as possible from outside noises and anything that may spook him.
A good way to develop a new “area” for him, is to frequently play with him only in that space. Bring his crate, toys, and a blanket there to signify that this is “his” little zone.
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3. Leave him a comfort item (your old t-shirt)
An unwashed t-shirt of yours that you don’t mind sacrificing will be the ultimate comfort item.
The sense of smell is incredibly powerful for dogs, in fact, it can be anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more powerful than our sense of smell.
Giving your Aussie an unwashed t-shirt of yours will be very comforting for him, as he’ll be able to smell you when you’re not there.
This is a well-known tactic often used when taking puppies away from their canine mothers for the first time.
Important side note: If your Aussie is a big chewer and likely to rip your t-shirt, then do not try this tip for safety reasons.
4. Leave the radio on or a recording of your voice playing
If you have the required equipment, leaving a short recording of your voice playing on loop in the background will be an excellent way to reduce anxiety and nerves when you leave.
This is such a powerful technique that it has often been used to cure separation anxiety in dogs who can’t handle their owners leaving for even a few minutes!
If you don’t have a recording device, then leaving the radio on will still have some benefits. Although the voices will not be familiar, it will help drown out noises coming from outside. Hearing cars, strangers walking by and other animals will be unsettling for most dogs when left home alone.
5. Provide interactive dog toys
Interactive dog toys or otherwise known as puzzle toys are great at keeping dogs occupied for prolonged periods of time.
A toy like the StarMark Bob-a-Lot is simple, yet interesting and can in some cases keep a dog occupied for up to 1 hour straight.
Puzzle toys come in many different styles and some will require you to be there, but others can be left with your dog without worry.
Our favorite interactive dog toys: StarMark Bob-a-Lot
6. Get a two-way camera with audio
If you’re into gadgets, this one is definitely for you!
Two-way cameras with audio capability will allow you to see your dog and him see you, plus you’ll be able to speak to him, all from your smartphone wherever you are.
There’s a little bit of setting up required and you’ll need to fix the camera and screen in a safe position, but after that, you’ll have eyes and ears on your Aussie at all times.
The benefit of being able to view your Aussie in real-time will allow you to see if he’s ok or if he’s panicking and you’ll be able to act accordingly. Maybe you can acquire a short break, or call a friend.
Plus, it doubles up as an indoor CCTV camera.
Our favorite two-way camera with audio: Kamtron Two Way 1080p Pet Camera
Recommended Read: Are Seizures Common In Australian Shepherds? Safety Advice
Getting Another Dog Isn’t The Answer!
Dog’s are happier in pairs, we know that for sure. But getting a second dog is not the solution to this problem.
It’s understandable that many owners think getting another dog will keep the first dog company. And to some extent that is true.
But dogs don’t replace us, and what you will have is two dogs that are both just waiting for their owner to come back.
So the problem has now doubled…
It’s only fair that this issue is properly resolved before getting a second dog.
Australian Shepherd Articles on The Puppy Mag:
- Australian Shepherds in Cold Weather: Safety Advice
- Why Your Australian Shepherd Isn’t Fluffy
- When Do Australian Shepherds Go Into Heat?
So you now know that Australian Shepherds do not cope well when left alone and are a breed that craves having human company.
How long your Aussie can tolerate will be different from other Aussies, so you’ll need to follow the steps outlined above to find out.
Once you do find out, you’ll be able to put in place certain measures to keep your Aussie from suffering any negative side effects commonly seen in dogs that are left alone for too long.
View more Australian Shepherd articles >>
Can Australian Shepherds be left alone?
Yes, they can, but not for long periods. Australian shepherds crave interaction and having company, time spent alone typically leads to anxiety, stress, and behavioral issues.
How long can Australian Shepherds be left alone?
3-4 hours should be the maximum for most Australian Shepherds. Some won’t even tolerate that long. All Aussies are different, so it’s important to find that and stick within it.
Can I leave my Australian Shepherd while I go to work?
If you’ll be out of the house for more than 3 or 4 hours, then this is too long. In these situations, it’s advised to hire a dog sitter/walker or ask friends and family to help.
What will happen if my Aussie is left alone too much?
Typical negative effects from too much isolation include heightened stress, anxiety problems, behavioral issues, disobedience, and even increased aggression. For a breed that craves having company so much, being left alone is the thing they want.
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