Home Alone

We know it is okay to leave our Chihuahuas home alone for a while, but how long is too long? What about separation anxiety?

You’ll get 12 different answers if you ask a dozen Chihuahua owners. What is the correct answer?

Many Chihuahuas spend the majority of the day home alone, and they are okay. But are they alright? Or do we 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 adverse effects? Can you minimize those negative effects and improve your dog’s well-being while alone?

Whether we admit it or not, it is not uncommon 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 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 alone and may cause stress, anxiety, and fear. They are sociable, pack animals, and need human companionship, and we know what harm stress can do to a human. Cronic, continual stress for a dog can also cause many 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!”

Dogs have indeed learned to adjust to our routines. After all, do they have any choice in the matter? Dogs are adaptable and 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 barkingdestructive chewinganxiety, fear, and even aggression.

Just like people, individual dogs are different. Some cope well, and some 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 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 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.

leave a dog alone, chihuahua lying in bed looking sad

Chihuahuas are tiny dogs and therefore have small bladders. A healthy adult Chihuahua should be able to relieve themselves 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 fundamental need.

If you leave your Chihuahua home for more than 10 hours and come home to pee or poo in the house, I’m sorry, but you can not blame the dog! You can’t say he is hard to housetrain or not housetrainable. Yes, that is not a word, but I’ve heard people use that exact non-existent 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 left outside wholly unsupervised. These little dogs look like lunch to predatory birds such as hawks and owls. Also, ensure that there is no way for them to escape should they smell or hear something irresistible.

Do Dogs Get Lonely?

Yes. Dogs are social animals, and they NEED interaction with people and with other dogs if they enjoy that. But, having a dog or cat sibling at home does not mean they are not lonely. They need time and interaction with their people. You are the essential thing in their life. They get lonely for you, and they miss you.

leave a dog alone, chihuahua staring out window at snow and rain

Puppies

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 alone for long periods.

Puppies that are 14 weeks and younger are in a sensitive socialization period. This is the period when they are most fearless and is the time for socialization. We should introduce them to people, children, pets, situations, or even surfaces they will come in contact with at any time during their lives. During this time, 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 they can go into for a nice cozy nap, but with the door open. For that, it can be a beneficial 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! Whether they are an adult or a puppy.

So What Is a Working Person To do?

How can you minimize the adverse effects of leaving your Chihuahua home while you work, and how can you maximize his well-being simultaneously? There are more solutions than you may think. It can be hard to make it work, but the benefits of your effort 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 standard workweek. Just be sure to check out the doggie daycare facility and staff carefully.
  • Come home for lunch. Come home for lunch to let your Chi out to potty and 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. There are various dog walking services, from an in-home visit to a walk around the neighborhood. Again, be sure to check out the company AND the person carefully. There are always bad apples in every industry.
  • Occasionally work from home. I know this is not possible for everyone, but it is certainly something to think about and maybe talk to your boss about. Telecommuting is becoming increasingly common as technology makes it easier for workers to perform their duties from home.
  • Bring your dog to work. 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 team member. Be sure to see:
  • Please arrange for someone you trust to come to your house, 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, a grandchild, or a friend you know you can trust.

I know these solutions cost money but 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.

Please tell us what you think. How long do you believe to be 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.

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