One of the biggest concerns when buying a dog is considering how long you can leave them alone. If you have a full-time job or aren’t home very often, you might want to ensure you have a dog sitter or someone who can come over to the house to check on your dog. Labrador Retrievers can be left alone longer than some other breed, but you should still ensure you are home for them whenever they may need you.
Labradors can have separation anxiety, so they shouldn’t be left alone for more than 8 hours. In reality, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone for more than 3-4 hours. If you can’t be with them this often, you might want to consider hiring a dog walker.
If you do need to leave them alone for certain days for long periods of time, you might want to spend as much time with them as you can before you leave. You should also try to exercise them to ensure they have some of their energy out before being left alone.
Can You Leave Labrador Retrievers Alone for 8 Hours?
Technically you can leave a Labrador Retriever alone for 8 hours, but you shouldn’t do it regularly. Leaving them alone for 8 hours every day or on a regular basis can cause them to have separation anxiety.
Here are some tips to better help you deal with your Labrador Retriever and the possibility of leaving them alone:
Understand the Dangers
If your dog is left alone for too long, they might start acting out and acting ill towards you when you come back home. It can also cause your dog to have some physical ailments such as urinary tract infections from not being able to go outside for long periods of time.
You might want to consider creating a place for them to use the bathroom inside the house, such as a small grass pad or potty pads. You could also consider getting a dog door installed if you have a fenced-in backyard.
What are the Possible Dangers when Labs are Left Alone?
The first thing most lab owners discover when they leave their labs alone for long hours, especially the first time it happens, is that the dogs become highly aggressive. Most dogs act out against their owners, despite their previous affection and loyalty.
However, not all dogs act out and behave like they want to attack you.
Some become restless, and others are destructive. You may find they have destroyed some of your items in the house.
Additionally, some dogs develop medical complications due to the infections they suffer. For example, they may not get the bathroom breaks they need as frequently may lead to infections such as UTIs.
Resolve this by ensuring you cater to their bathroom needs.
You can create a place they can use within the house, such as placing specific areas with glass. You could also use bathroom pads. Alternatively, have a doggy door they can use to access the backyard, especially if you have an enclosed backyard.
Make Sure to Leave them Toys
Make sure your dog has their toys around when they are left alone. You can also consider getting special toys from Amazon or the local dog store that are meant to stimulate their mind better. This can keep them occupied for longer periods of time so they might not notice you’re gone.
TV and Music
Leaving on the TV or the radio can help your dog feel less lonely because they will hear voices and it will replicate the feeling of having voices around them. This will help their anxiety and allow them to feel at ease even when they are alone.
Hire a Dog Walker
You might want to consider getting a dog walker for some or all of the days that are you gone for long periods of time. You can always check with a neighbor you trust, or you can hire a professional dog walker to come to the house.
This will allow your lab to have time to exercise and use the bathroom outside. If you choose to do this, make sure you know the dog walker. It might also be a good idea to see how your dog and the walker interact with one another to ensure they can have a good relationship.
You will also need to trust the person they will need to have a key or another way to get inside your house.
Labrador Retrievers are generally active and athletic dogs. This means that they will need lots of exercise.
If you plan to leave them alone for a few hours, then it is best to let them get their dose of exercise before you go.
What’s more, this exercise is essential as it not only helps the dog relax, but chances are that they become too tired to note your absence. Alternatively, hire a dog walker to help keep an eye on the dogs and get them to exercise when you are not in a position to do it yourself.
Do Labs Suffer From Separation Anxiety?
Yes, Labrador Retrievers suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for more than 8 hours. Ideally, you should not leave them alone for more than 3-4 hours when they are adults. If you have a puppy, they can only be left alone for one hour for each month of their age. This goes for puppies that are less than 3 months old.
If you have newborn puppies, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone for more than one hour, especially if they are not with their mother.
Senior labs are also more prone to getting separation anxiety because they may be suffering from health complications. This can make them feel very lonely and uncared for. If you have a senior lab with a medical condition, try not to leave them alone for more than 3 hours.
Keep in mind that the severity of your lab’s separation anxiety will depend on how often you leave them alone and how you raised them. If you worked from home the first 2 years of their life and then all of a sudden have to go into the office 8 hours a day, you can be sure your lab will have high anxiety.
If your puppy was left alone since they were young, they might be less likely to have separation anxiety. It also depends on their unique personality though and their behavior.
How Do I Know If My Lab Has Separation Anxiety?
You might be able to tell by their mood when you get home. There are some definite ways you can tell if your lab has separation anxiety though. The fear and distress of them being alone may cause them to start doing destructive behaviors such as chewing on furniture and barking.
If your neighbors comment that the dog was barking the entire time you were gone, you can be sure they have separation anxiety. You might also notice damage to your house and furniture.
You might also notice your lab getting distressed when they see you grabbing your coat or keys. It’s normal to see your dog getting a little sad when you leave, but them getting agitated or whining excessively is not normal. You might also see them panting or drooling if they have separation anxiety.
If you have a rescue lab or a lab that was in an abusive home before, they might be more likely to have separation anxiety because they are afraid of being abandoned.
Getting Help with Separation Anxiety
The good news is that the anxiety can be treated, especially by rebuilding the confidence the dog has in you. This process will take time. If the separation anxiety has lasted for more than a few months, you might want to consider getting a professional behaviorist to help you.
Ask your vet for suggestions on behaviorists so you can make sure you get a professional and reliable one. Professional behaviorists should go through rigorous training, so make sure you see their certifications and check their reviews and website.
You also need to start leaving your lab alone for only a few hours or less and then gradually increasing the time they spend alone. This will help them gain their trust back from you and allow them to feel less alone.
If you are worried about the dog walker not being a complete substitute for you being there, consider spending time with your lab with the dog walker for a few weeks. Then, you can start allowing the dog walker to come to the house alone.
How Long Can a Lab Stay in a Crate?
This depends on the dog’s age. Adult dogs shouldn’t be left in their crate for more than 6-8 hours. Remember this is the maximum amount and you shouldn’t be doing it every day. If you want to leave them in a crate, make sure it’s the right size.
They should be able to stand, turn around, stretch, and lay down in the crate. Leaving them in a crate that’s too small can be detrimental to their physical and emotional health. Crating them for short intervals and then gradually prolonging them is a good way to help your lab get used to the crate.
If you have been using crates since they were puppies, they will probably adjust to being in the crate better. If you never used a crate, you can’t just start putting the lab in the crate for several hours a day.
Start by crating them for short periods when you’re home or at nighttime while you’re sleeping. If you need to crate them before leaving, make sure to exercise them and let them use the toilet before you put them in the crate.
This will ensure they are more comfortable and have less energy. Make sure your lab knows that the crate is their safe place. Don’t allow your children to play in the crate and don’t use the crate as punishment.
Top Things to Consider When Leaving your Dogs for Hours
You can prepare better when you know what to expect. If you have to leave the labs alone, then there are certain things you must remember.
- Labradors are sporty dogs, so they are likely to play around when you are away
- Labradors will need numerous bathroom breaks in a day
- Labradors are highly active dogs that require both physical and mental stimulation.
With this in mind, dog owners should adequately prepare their dogs for staying alone for hours.
If you own a Labrador Retriever, you need to make sure you have a system in place if they are being left alone. Consider hiring a dog walker for any day you are going to be gone more than 8 hours. If you see any signs of separation anxiety, talk to the vet right away.