10 Tips to Keep Your Dog From Becoming Sad When Left Alone

Updated on July 22, 2019
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

Many dogs will sleep for most of the day when left alone; other dogs become sad.
Many dogs will sleep for most of the day when left alone; other dogs become sad. | Source

Should I Be Worried About My Dog Being Home Alone?

Some of us worry a lot when leaving our dogs alone all day. We probably shouldn't because even though dogs are social animals, they sleep most of the day (anywhere from 10–16 hours) and will usually be fine when left alone for several hours. That fact is not much help when closing the door on your dog's lonely face. I even give my dogs a final command before leaving them alone. Do you think that makes it any easier for them? Probably not.

Are there things you can do to make your dog's day alone a little easier? Sure there are. You may have tried a few of these things before, but if not, here are some ideas to make things a little better for both of you.

10 Ways to Make Your Dog Feel Less Lonely When You Aren't Home

  1. Feed Her Just as You Leave
  2. Take Her for a Brisk Walk Each Morning
  3. Hide Treats Around the House Before Leaving
  4. Fill a Kong Toy With Frozen Peanut Butter to Keep Her Occupied
  5. Get Another Pet
  6. Leave a Radio Turned On
  7. Subscribe to Dog TV
  8. Call and Leave a Message
  9. Use a Webcam and Treat Dispenser
  10. Install a Doggy Door or Window Platform

1. Feed her when you leave the house (or just before).

I think this is very important. Dogs with a full belly are much more likely to sleep. Some dogs will eat everything as soon as you leave the house, others, especially if fed free choice, will not bother with their food until their family comes home. If your dog only eats when you are present, go ahead and give the meal and then wait around until she eats it before leaving.

Note: If you have one of the breeds that are susceptible to gastric bloat and torsion, feeding a meal as leaving the house is not a good idea.

2. Take her for a long walk in the morning.

A quiet dog is going to have a full stomach and be tired after her morning exercise. This is not always easy for everyone, but set your alarm a half-hour earlier and take the time to walk your dog far enough and fast enough to come home tired.

3. Hide treats around the house.

Some dogs will spend time searching for all of your hiding spots. Change the hiding spots every day, and use a treat that your dog likes. Some dogs, unfortunately, will wait to find the treats when you come home.

4. Fill a Kong hollow toy with hard-to-get goodies.

Your dog is going to spend a lot of time and effort getting to the food that you have “hidden” in the toy, and time spent playing with the toy will keep her distracted and prevent her from feeling sad and alone. (I bought several Kong toys years ago and my dogs still use them when I am away from home.) Frozen peanut butter or another type of food that is hard to get out works best.

5. Get another pet.

This suggestion will not always work when your are dealing with a dog already suffering from separation anxiety, but for dogs that get bored when home alone, this may be a good cure. A dog companion may be best since they can wrestle and play when alone, but if you do not want another dog, then a cat, a parrot, or even a rabbit may be a good choice.

My Pit Bull stays occupied sitting at the bottom of my parrot's perch waiting for him to throw her a piece of shredded coconut, and my Schnauzer spends a lot of time just watching my free-range rabbits run around my yard.

6. Leave a radio turned on.

If your dog is bored, sometimes a distraction is all he needs. I cannot tell you for sure if talk radio is better than music, since it will depend on the dog. Change the stations; it may all be white noise to your dog.

7. Subscribe to dog TV.

Many dogs do not like to watch the TV shows that we watch because the images flicker. A new TV station is set up to make it more pleasing to a dog's eyes, and the programming is dog-related so that your dog will be more interested. Think about setting a timer/programmer so that the TV flips on during the day. The noise and images will probably attract your dog and keep him occupied during the program.

8. Call and leave a message.

If you call and leave a message on your answering machine, your dog will probably recognize your voice and come over to take a look.

9. Use a webcam and a treat dispenser.

Get a treat dispenser that can be controlled electronically, and set the answering machine up just next to a webcam so that you can see your dog. Give him a command, and when he sits, for example, tell him he is a good boy and give him a treat. (I am assuming that you have already obedience trained your dog so that he feels confident when left alone. If you have not, get started right away and make him feel better about his place in your household.)

10. Install a doggy door or window platform.

Some dogs will make use of it and spend some time in the back yard. However, some readers are concerned about dognapping in their area. If you are not able to allow your dog out during the day, you can set up a platform (or just the back of a couch for a smaller dog) so that he can sit by a front window during the day and watch passersby.

Dogs depend on humans to find solutions.
Dogs depend on humans to find solutions. | Source

Is Your Dog Sad When Left Alone?

See results

Be Creative

How to Use Technology to Create a Good Routine for Your Dog

Take advantage of all the technology available.

  • Walk and feed your dog in the morning.
  • At 10:00 am, he will probably still be sleeping but have the TV (set to dog TV) come on remotely and leave it on until 12:00 pm.
  • Call at noon and leave a message on the machine so that he can hear your voice and give him a treat for performing some obedience commands that you monitor through the webcam.
  • Have the radio come on until 1:00 pm.
  • Have the TV switch on again for another two hours.
  • Switch on the radio from 3–4 pm.
  • Take a break and call again at that time; speak to him for a few minutes on the answering machine.
  • Come home in the evening to a dog that is happy to see you!

Will your dog get bored with that routine?

All of us want our dogs to be free from boredom, feelings of isolation, and the loneliness that comes with lack of a social life. Not all of these tips are going to work for all dogs, but if give this problem a lot of thought you should be able to work out a solution that makes both of you happy.

If you work all day but still want a dog, check out descriptions, videos, and pictures of these low-energy breeds to find out which will suit your lifestyle.

Follow these tips and your sad dog might just end up smiling.
Follow these tips and your sad dog might just end up smiling. | Source

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • Will it be alright if I leave my two Yorkies at a shelter for two weeks while I am on holiday?

    Some dogs do just fine when boarded during the times when an owner is traveling. If there are two dogs, and they are going to be in a large kennel so that they will be together, they are usually even better. If they are kept in a cage, they will have to be separated.

    Some dogs do not do well in a boarding facility. This varies a lot, so I cannot tell you specifically how the dogs will do.

© 2017 Dr Mark

Any great ideas? Please leave a comment.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Penny Sebring profile image

      Penny Leigh Sebring 

      12 months ago from Fort Collins

      Good advice!

    • poppyr profile image


      20 months ago from Enoshima, Japan

      My father's dog always whines and watches the door when he goes out, it's the saddest thing! I'll send this article over to him; hopefully, it will keep Oscar out of mischief. Fantastic article!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      How to sensibly buy LEGAL and best quality cbd products for my dog? I've heard how CBD dog treats could benefit your dog; reduce seizures, anxiety, pain etc.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      2 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Larry I wish I could say there was something to do, but there really is not. Just make sure she has a comfortable place to lie down and will not have an accident if she happens to be standing when the seizure hits. Most dogs do okay when alone unless they go into status epilepticus, which is a series of seizures and the dog never regains conciousness between each seizure. That can cause heat stroke and death.

      I am glad you are able to spend time with her most days. My dogs seem to sleep most of the time when I go away but will not eat or drink when I am gone!

    • Larry Fish profile image

      Larry W Fish 

      2 years ago from Raleigh

      A great article, Dr. Mark. I do not usually leave my dog alone all day because we are retired. However, when I peek in as I am closing the door I can see the sadness in her little face. I do worry when we have to leave our dog alone for even a little while. She has epilepsy and I hold her and protect her when she does. What about when I am not there and she gets one?

    • rls8994 profile image


      3 years ago from Mississippi

      Great tips! I love the one about hiding the treats around the house for them to find lol. I wish I had done that for mine. He was always so sad when I left him. It would break my heart. I had a miniature schnauzer and he was like my third child. Unfortunately, he died in 2013 and it left me so heart broken. I'll have to keep these tips in mind if I ever get another dog.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Great suggestions, Dr Mark and I will use at least two of them.

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 

      3 years ago from Kuwait

      Great hub DrMark! Very well written with awesome solutions. People who have dogs are going to find this very useful.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Bob always great to read your useful comments. Yes, I know what you mean about visual cues. My dogs know as soon as I reach for a shirt, since here in the tropics we usually only wear shirts when we go out to work. Most days they do not mind, however, since I take them for a run behind my motorcycle and leave them at my neighbor´s compound to play with his Pits. (My version of exercise and dog daycare!)

      I agree with you about the seperation anxiety. I saw it a lot more in Chicago than I do here, since dogs are loose to run around much of the time, and "Vecro dogs" like the Weimarainer are not popular down here. It is definitely one of those problems where prevention is easier than cure, which is why I got a second dog when I noticed Ajej getting too upset as I was leaving.

      Thanks again for dropping by. Carnival is this week so our summer is about over, so hopefully your spring will be coming soon.

    • profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      3 years ago

      I had to smile when I read your title. I'm thinking "Ten tips to keep your dog from ripping your house to shreds when left alone." Another good one is to vary your departure routine in the morning. We tend to be creatures of habit and leave the house at about the same time and in the same order...grab your keys, grab your coat, adjust the blinds, etc...every day. Dogs, being the masters of visual cues that they are, start getting anxious when you grab your keys. Some behaviorists say anxiety begins for some dogs when the alarm clock goes off. Some also say ignore your dog when you first come home; don't engage in his greeting ritual. Give him a few minutes to calm down, then acknowledge him...the idea being not to underscore the fact they you've been gone.

      Would you agree that separation anxiety is one of the most difficult of the behavioral problems to treat? It seems that owners can put up with inappropriate elimination and other issues, but get entirely exasperated by separation anxiety.

      Another good and helpful article, Doc.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks, I definitely understands how she feels. I know they sleep a lot when I am gone, but still want to be needed too!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      3 years ago

      These are fantastic tips, Dr. Mark. Even though I reassure my 80-year-old mom that her dog will sleep when she's away, she refuses to leave home without him. She definitely needs to be needed by her dog!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)