tips for leaving a dog home alone

8 Tips For Leaving A Dog Alone When Returning To Work

You are headed back to work and need tips for leaving a dog alone. At some point dogs will need to adjust when we go back to work in the outside world. I am fortunate in that I’ve worked remote for close to two decades, but not everyone is as fortunate. On a happy note, I there are time-tested ways for leaving a dog alone after your work-from-home time is over.

Many dogs are going to feel the emotional impact of not spending 24/7 with their moms and dads. Dogs are creatures of habit, and helping them adjust means establishing new routines while you are working from home. Setting up a schedule and routine now with both mental and physical stimulation will help dogs adapt to being home alone. The worst thing a dog parent can do is go from being with their dog 24/7 for months to leaving them all alone for eight hours or more.

Routines give dogs a sense of structure. Now that your dog has learned being together all the time is the norm, it will be a slow but steady process to wean him back to being alone for periods of time. Humans understand why they are going back to work and leaving the house, but the dog is left behind with a whole host of emotions. Your dog is likely to be confused, may act out, urinate or defecate in the house, or even bark or stare out the window all day waiting for your return. Here are our best tips for leaving a dog alone as you head back to work.

Note: This post is sponsored by DOGTV and I am being compensated. However, Fidose of Reality only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. We only recommend what we use as dog lovers of the highest order.

8 Tips For Leaving A Dog Alone When Returning To Work

Although there is no magic wand to wave to get a dog loving the idea that you will be gone for hours on end, there are things you can do to ease the transition.

If leaving a dog alone for more than two or three hours, always make sure someone can take him outside for a potty break.

1. Start Establishing A New Routine Now

Before heading back to work, your dog’s routine needs to be re-established. Much like children, dogs need structure to feel safe and secure. A dog’s entire day is structured around what we do, when we feed them, when they potty outside, and when it’s nap or break time.

Put pen to paper and decide what the times will be for:

  • Getting up each day
  • Going for a walk
  • Eating
  • Exercising
  • Nap or break time
  • Snack time
  • Any medications or specific routines

Most importantly, plan time they will be alone in the day. Even if you get in your car and drive to the corner of the street for 10 minutes or put gas in your car and come back, start leaving the house without your dog. Dogs need routine, and this will help get you started.

2. Give Dogs Something To Do While You Are Away

Leaving a dog home alone with nothing to do leads to boredom. Dogs can experience situational anxiety when their parents go back to work. They can also feel isolated and alone.

When my dog experiences situational anxiety or during the day when I am working in the home office, I put DOGTV on to stimulate his mind. DOGTV features a variety of programs with different sights and sounds to enrich a dog’s mind.

When a dog goes for a walk, he is exposed to different scents, sounds, and sights. In the same way, DOGTV stimulates a dog with images and sound. My dog is going deaf, but he still enjoys watching the images on DOGTV. He responds to what he sees, and that makes me feel good because he is entertained while I work.

I’ll share a discount code below to get a 30-day free trial of DOGTV to see if your dog digs it, too.

dog home alone watching dogtv

3. Train Your Dog To Separate With Ease

If your dog is anything like mine, he knows when the keys come out and the shoes go on that mom is going somewhere. If you leave without the dog after months of being together, don’t say goodbye or make a big fuss. Simply leave. Put DOGTV on for background noise and a visual distraction at least an hour or so before you depart.

Your dog may revert back to behaviors associated with being alone or develop new habits such as barking or whining when you leave. Try leaving the house for a few minutes, stand outside the door, and see what happens. Slowly increase the time you are away. Don’t fuss over the goodbye, simply do it.

Pro Tip: Don’t get another dog to simply keep the first dog company. I’m all for adopting a dog or adding another dog to your family if the time is right. Getting a second dog means two mouths to feed, two vet bills, grooming bills, and more. Your first dog may not like a second dog, especially if you then leave him alone with the new pooch right away and return to work.

4. Get Your Dog Used To Indoor Activities

I wrote a list of 101 things to do indoors with your dog. Try some of the dozens of ideas on the list to keep your dog’s body and mind active while you are home.

When it’s time for you to go to work, plan for some one-on-one time at least 30 minutes before heading out. You want the time spent with your dog to be a no phone zone, so keep all electronics in another room. Play a game, engage in tricks for treats, or show him how much fun a brain game or DOGTV can be. I sit down and watch programs on DOGTV with my Cocker Spaniel.

5. Focus On The Human-Animal Bond

Pets share a special connection with their family, often called the human-animal bond. The way you feel good around your dog is an example of that. Studies from HABRI show that dogs are happier around us, too.

Rather than leaving a dog all alone, consider having a work-from-home or retired neighbor to stop by and give your pooch some attention. That same person can take the dog out, change his water, toss him a ball, or simply spend some quality time with him.

leaving a dog home alone with dogtv

6. Leave A Piece Of You Behind

Did you ever catch your dog curled up on your socks, a shoe, or maybe a sweatshirt or robe? They are taking comfort in the scent of you. Yes, dogs love us that much.

Many dogs feel better when they are left alone with the scent of you in the air. Put a robe in his dog bed or leave a pair of socks near his favorite couch. Coupled with the soothing sounds and stimulating activities on DOGTV, your dog will pass the time alone like a pro.

7. Pheromones In The Air

A few years ago when I switched vets, the vet tech put a pheromone-infused bandana on my dog when we arrived for the visit. The calming spray is meant to ease a dog’s worried or anxious mind and reassure him it’s okay and safe. We use Adaptil.

I’ve also used a pheromone diffuser in my home when I know storms are coming. My dog doesn’t realize it, but the pheromones are designed to keep him calm. For general stress, which can be equated with you going back to work, plug a pheromone diffuser in for a few weeks ahead of time.

Fun fact: Pheromones are the chemical signals dogs can sense and smell from other dogs but that humans can’t see or smell. Each dog pheromone diffuser plug-in is slightly different, so check reviews and try one.

8. Spy On Your Dog To Assess Progress

As your dog gets used to being home alone, check in with any number of web cams or home surveillance apps. There are many pet cameras on the market to see what your dog is up to in your absence.

Pro Tip: Never scold a dog if he makes a mess or pees in the house while you aren’t home. Be kind, be courteous, and be understanding because dogs revolve their lives around us and don’t try to get us upset.

Try DOGTV For Free

Fidose of Reality is able to offer our fans a 30-day trial of DOGTV. If you love it after 30 days, you can simply sign up for $9.99 a month. That comes out to about 33 cents a day, which for my dog, is worth it. You can cancel at any time.

Simply visit and sign up – and where the screen comes up for a code, you type in FIDOSEOFREALITY.

tips for leaving a dog home alone


  1. Some great suggestions – I never thought of DogTV as something to leave on in particular for my dogs – I always leave a radio or shows that I like – might be nice to try to see if they particularly enjoy DogTV instead. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the good tips! Sometimes a specific dog can’t tolerate being alone at all. It is especially difficult for animals that get used to a company!

  3. These are really good tips! Dogs get used to us being around all the time pretty quickly so an abrupt change can upset them. I love the web cam idea, I’d love to get one of those! When we leave the house for a longer period of time, after we’ve been home 24/7 for days, or if we take one dog somewhere and not the other I’ll give the stay at home dog a chew stick or puzzle toy just as I leave the house. It grabs their focus and keeps them occupied at least for a little while. That seems to help – they’re not focused on you walking out the door, leaving them behind all alone.

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