We know that it is okay to leave our Chihuahuas home alone for a period of time, but how long is too long? What about separation anxiety?
If you ask a dozen different Chihuahua owners, you’ll get 12 different answers. What is the correct answer?
Many Chihuahuas spend the majority of the day home alone and they are okay. But are they really okay? Or do we just tell ourselves that they are okay to assuage our guilt? What do you think?
The Effects Of Being Left Home Alone
Let’s talk about what effect being left at home alone has on a Chihuahua. What are the negative effects? Are there ways to overcome the negative effects? Can you minimize those negative effects and improve your dog’s well being while alone?
It is not uncommon — whether we admit it or not, to leave a dog alone while at work. Some work 10-12 hour days with long travel time back and forth and may even run errands after work. Then there may be evening activities when the dog is — once again — left home alone.
How many times have you heard: “What? You’re not coming because of your dog? That’s crazy! You’re letting your dog run your life!” I’ve heard it too. Those people just don’t understand dogs and have not been educated on what a dog needs for their well being, health, and happiness.
Do Dogs Adapt To Being Home Alone?
It is stressful for a Chihuahua to be home alone. It may cause stress, anxiety, and fear. They are sociable, pack animals and really need human companionship. We know what harm stress can do to a human. Cronic, continual stress for a dog can also cause many stress-related health issues.
I know what you are thinking right now. “But, I have no choice and I’ve always left them alone for 10-12 hours and they are just fine!”
It is true that dogs have learned to adjust to our routines. After all, do they have any choice in the matter? Dogs are so adaptable. They learn to cope with whatever situation we may throw at them. We all know that if our dogs had a choice, they would certainly not choose to spend all that time alone.
Separation Anxiety and Destructive Behaviors
Then there are the dogs that do not adapt so well. Those that have difficulty adapting are the ones that develop behavior problems such as barking, destructive chewing, anxiety, fear, and even aggression.
Just like people, individual dogs are different. Some cope well and some simply do not. You know your dog best.
Exactly How Long Is Too Long?
I’m often asked “what is the maximum amount of time I can leave my Chihuahua home alone at a time? Come on, do you really think I’m going to answer that? Well, I am. The bottom line, 10-12 hours at home alone is too long. Other than that, there is no simple answer to that question. You know your dog best and are the best one to answer that question.
However, even if your Chihuahua is one that has learned to cope with the situation and adapted to being home alone for up to 12 hours doesn’t mean that he should. Consider your Chihuahua’s basic needs.
Chihuahuas are tiny dogs and therefore have tiny bladders. A healthy adult Chihuahua should be able to relieve himself or herself 5 to 6 times a day. Do the math, a Chihuahua that is left at home for 10 to 12 hours at a time would not have an opportunity to meet that very basic need.
If you leave your Chihuahua home for more than 10 hours and you come home to pee or poo in the house, I’m sorry, but you simply can not blame the dog! You can’t say he is hard to housetrain, or he’s just not housetrainable. Yes, I know, that is not actually a word, but I’ve heard people use that exact non-existant word about their Chis.
Have a dog door that allows your Chihuahua to go out to potty anytime he needs to during the day? That’s great, but not a solution. Please consider predatory birds and animals that may lurk in your neighborhood. A Chihuahua should never be let outside completely unsupervised. These little dogs look like lunch to predatory birds such as hawks and owls. Also, make sure that there is absolutely no way for them to escape should they smell or hear something irresistible.
Do Dogs Get Lonely?
Yes. Dogs are social animals. They NEED interaction with people and with other dogs if they enjoy that. But, because they have a dog or cat sibling at home with them does not mean they are not lonely. They need time and interaction with their people. You are the most important thing in their life. They get lonely for you and they miss you.
We have been talking about adult Chihuahuas. When it comes to puppies, that is a whole different story. It is even more important not to leave a puppy home alone for long periods of time.
Puppies that are 14 weeks and younger are in a sensitive socialization period. This is the period of time when they are most fearless and this is the time for socialization. They should be introduced to any people, children, pets, situations, even surfaces that they will come in contact with at any time during their lives. It’s during this time that you need to spend lots of time training, socializing, and bonding with your Chihuahua puppy.
What About Crates?
I am all for using a crate to housetrain a Chihuahua. Or having one that they can go into for a nice cozy nap, but with the door open. For that, it can be a very helpful tool. But, never for confining a Chihuahua all day! A Chihuahua should never ever be left in a crate for more than 2 hours at a time, period! Whether they are an adult or a puppy.
So What Is a Working Person To do?
How can you minimize the negative effects of leaving your Chihuahua home while you work and how can you maximize his well being at the same time? There are more solutions than you may think. It can be hard to make it work, but the benefits of the effort you put forth are well worth any inconvenience or cost. But, most of all, you and your Chihuahua will be much happier.
- Doggie Day Care. Yes, this can be costly, but even if you can do it just one day a week, that is one day less and only four more to think about in a normal workweek. Just be sure to carefully check out the doggie daycare facility and staff.
- Come home for lunch. If possible, come home for lunch to let your Chi out to potty and to spend a little time together. Use that time to play and enjoy being together. No scolding or negativity at that time. If there are more family members, take turns going home for lunch.
- Hire a dog walking service. Again it costs money, but if you do it for one or two days a week that leaves fewer days of the week to find a different solution for. There are a variety of dog walking services, from an in-home visit to a walk around the neighborhood, and more. Again, be sure to carefully check out the company AND the person. There are always bad apples in every industry.
- Occasionally work from home. I know that this is not possible for everyone, but it is certainly something to think about and maybe talk to your boss about. Telecommuting is becoming more and more common as technology is making it easier for workers to perform their duties from home.
- Bring your dog to work. Obviously, this also is not possible for everyone. But, before you cross it off your list of possible solutions talk to someone in charge at your job. They may be more open to it than you think. Bringing your dog to work is also something that is becoming more common as more and more people become aware of how important it is to address their dog’s needs. And how having their dog at work with them often makes for a more productive employee. Be sure to see:
- Arrange for someone you trust to come to your house and let the dog out and spend some time with them. Not everyone is comfortable with this, however, if you think about it, you may come up with a neighbor, a teenage niece or nephew, grandchild, or friend that you know you can trust.
I know that these solutions cost money, however, think of it as part of owning a dog. When you calculate a budget for caring for your dog, you may already figure in expenses for food, supplies, and occasional vet visits. So, include training, daycare, boarding, and dog walking as part of your dog care budget.
How To Talk To Your Employer About Allowing Pets At Work
You can show them this list of 30 companies in the U.S. that do allow employees to bring their pets to work: 30 Most Pet-Friendly Companies In The U.S.
If that doesn’t work, give them all the reasons that it will benefit them as a company to allow their employees to bring their pets to work. Here is a link: Benefits Of Bringing Pets To Work.
Tell us what you think. How long do you think is too long to leave a Chihuahua at home alone? Do you have a solution not mentioned in this article? Let us know! Leave your comment at the bottom of this page.👇