Can Border Collies Be Left Alone? Home Alone: A 16 Step Guide To Help!
Many owners wonder if they can leave their beloved Border Collie alone at home for periods of time; we all have a busy life and they cannot be joined at our hips for 24 hours a day. We have a lot to do and adding a Border Collie puppy into the mix does add complexity and spreads our time more thinly. (BUT WHAT an amazing reward, sharing our lives with them!). In this article, we look deeper into the topic of leaving your companion at home and how to do this safely.
Can Border Collies be left alone at home? Most Border Collies can be left alone for short periods of time; however, the specific length of time depends on factors such as age, personality and the safety of your home. As high-energy, intelligent dogs Border Collies may become bored and destructive if left alone without enough exercise resulting in unwanted behavior like chewing sofas and barking. If your collie is sufficiently stable and happy to be left alone, they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation prior to this and plenty of food, toys and puzzles to keep them occupied whilst you are away.
Can I leave my Border Collie home alone? How long can I leave them? What are the risks? Are there alternatives? And how can I entertain them with TV/radio? … we answer these important questions in the below article to help you make the right decision for you – and for your companion.
Can Border Collies Be Left Alone? Will It Cause Separation Anxiety?
The short answer to this is yes, the majority of Border Collies can be left at home in apartments or houses for short periods of time. But without wanting to be annoyingly cryptic, the longer answer is ‘it depends’. There are SO many factors at play when it comes to deciding when the time is right to leave your beloved collie pup on their own for the first time. Their age (puppy, adult or senior), the size and safety of your home, the specific length of time… and most importantly, your dog’s individual personality.
Almost everything depends on the individual dog and their personality type. Some Border Collies can be left alone and will be just fine, while others may become anxious or destructive. The stakes are high, not only for the chewed-up furniture, torn-up carpet or frustrated neighbors listening to incessant barking. It concerns your friend’s safety and mental well-being… which is, after all, why you are taking time to research this topic!
Border Collies have traditionally been bred to be ‘working dogs’ and they are a breed that needs to feel occupied with an activity and plenty of mental and physical stimulation. They can therefore become destructive if left alone for long periods of time especially if this is done suddenly without preparation and build-up. One of the most important aspects when leaving your dog alone for the first time is to crack that morning routine before you wave goodbye. Exercise, food, toilet breaks and toys!
Read on to find out more as we go in-depth with 16 essential tips to safely leave your Border Collie at home.
How Long Can I Leave My Border Collie Alone? (Can You Leave Border Collies Alone For Too Long? )
Most people recommend no more than 2-4 hours. Experts suggest that leaving a dog alone for long periods of time can be very harmful to their emotional health, leading to such problems as depression and separation anxiety. Dogs are social animals and need companionship. If you are not able to have someone come in to walk and play with your dog during the day, you may want to consider getting another type of animal for company.
How long can I leave my Border Collie alone? It is recommended that they are left alone no more than 2-4 hours. However, this depends on your dog’s age and personality. If they are young or old – or have attachment trauma – you may not be able to leave them more than a few minutes to one hour. If they are adult and in good mental and physical health they may be able to go for considerably longer. However, dogs are pack animals and like to have company so for longer periods make arrangements with dog sitters or your neighbor to walk your dog and prevent them getting stressed or lonely.
If you are going to be away from your home for longer than a couple of hours or so, it is best to ask a friend or family member to come over and let your dog out for a potty break. Or, consider hiring a pet sitter to visit your home once or twice per day to take care of your furry friend. As pet owners (or pet parents!) we know that asking friends or family to help out is par for the course, and they often love spending time with our fur baby too!
How Do You Leave A Border Collie Alone? 16 Essential Steps!
Border Collies are an intelligent breed – and a social breed – and they of course need lots of exercise and constant stimulation (‘high energy dogs’ is an understatement!)! Being left alone can therefore cause isolation distress and destructive behavior.
With this in mind… here are 16 essential steps for you to follow to leave your canine companion safely alone for the first time.
FIRSTLY, evaluate whether your dog is physically and mentally fit and healthy enough to be left alone for longer than a few minutes
1. Puppies and Senior Dogs: If your dog is a puppy or an older dog with health issues you will want to consider not leaving them alone at all. You can either take them with you or ask a friend or dog sitter to lend them company. Ask your veterinarian to advise, and use your own judgement, you know your dog better than anyone else!
2. Anxious Dogs: Assess your dog’s personality and current mental state, you will already know if being left alone triggers any anxiety – for example when their human companion goes to the toilet or to the shops for a few minutes! If your dog is a rescue or has survived traumatic experiences, they may have symptoms of separation anxiety that requires more careful proper training and possible specialist intervention before leaving them alone for longer periods.
If they are left alone too soon for too long, they may become restless and destructive and this may compound their trauma. They may also start to bark or whine excessively. Be gentle and patient – with your companion and yourself.
Establishing a good morning routine is absolutely essential if you are leaving your dog alone. The exercise, breakfast, toilet break – and then a break from their human – will become part of their daily routine.
3. Physical Exercise: Get a nice long walk in before you leave them alone. Collies need plenty of exercise and a good amount of interaction with their humans to avoid developing behavior problems. Morning exercise will get this out of their system and tire them out so they may spend most of the time you are away napping!
4. Food: A healthy nutrition breakfast or lunch before you leave will establish a routine and prevent their tummy from rumbling whilst you are away. Always make sure there is plenty of water. Again, exercise and food will mean your companion may have a well-earned sleep when home alone.
5. Toilet Break: Train your collie to go to the loo during their morning walk, twice if possible. They should then be able to hold on until you return, but make sure there is always an option for them to relieve themselves inside. At 20 months old your dog should be able to control his bodily functions for that long, but if you’re worried he won’t be able to ask a trusted neighbor or friend to take him out mid-day.
6. Intensive Play: As if the walk has not tired you both out, your pal with LOVE a few minutes of intensive indoor play/game with you before you leave the house. This could include: i) playing indoor fetch; ii) tug-of-war; iii) hiding treats around the house; iv) teaching them tricks e.g. agility tests or v) a good old-fashioned wrestle on the sofa! This will make sure you leave on a good note, why not make this part of your routine?
Preparation – Before You Leave
After your lovely morning routine, run through these checks and preparations so you can leave your canine companion alone in safety and in confidence:
7. Mood Monitoring: It is important to observe your collie and her/his behaviour when you are away (see point 16 with the web camera!). If he/she is unhappy or stressed when you are gone, then you may need to find someone to check in on him occasionally – at least to begin with.
8. Mental Stimulation (Toys!): Provide them with plenty of toys and activities to keep them entertained when you’re not home. Puzzle toys or a brain training game will help immensely, keeping their brain occupied so they can leave that sofa alone!
9. Food and Water!: Leave sufficient food, water and snacks for your collie. If they have just had breakfast or lunch you won’t need to leave a full meal if it is only a couple of hours.
10. ‘Kong’ Snack Toys: Snack toys like ‘Kong’ release treats gradually over time as they play with them. This keeps them occupied and uses mental energy; these toys can also become a signal to settle down, once the food toys are done with and his brain has been worked he might well just fall to sleep, especially as his body is also being exercised before you leave
11. ‘Doggie Den’: Prepare a “doggie den” or nice cosy padded crate where they can feel safe and secure when you’re away from home.
12. Crates: Dog crates when made nice and comfy can be a good safe space for your dog, especially if they are young or anxious. However being confined to the crate should ONLY be for very short periods of time – DO NOT lock your collie in a confined space like a crate for any extended periods, this can traumatize them and lead to psychological harm and unwanted behavior.
13. Music and Talk Radio: If your dog enjoys it, consider leaving some quiet music or talk radio on when you are away from home so your furry friend has a familiar sound and voices to listen to.
14. IMPORTANT – Safety Check: Scan your house for any hazards such as exposed electric cables, poisonous food, sharp objects and potential choking hazards.
15. Safe Rooms: If necessary, block off hazardous areas like a kitchen and make only those rooms available which are nice and safe. Just make sure these rooms have floors that can be cleaned easily if needed!
16. Web Camera Monitoring! In the age of technology, we can now buy a £30 web camera with a microphone and connect this to our phone via an app! Especially to begin with, this will give you huge reassurance that your dog is safe. You may find they spend most of the time sleeping! And if they are howling or ill, you can quickly respond to this accordingly, and send mum or dad round!
You can even speak to your dog in emergencies, for example, if they get sick. However, be careful not to make them too reliant on having access to you via the camera. They should learn to be happy and self-sufficient for the short periods they are left alone.
On Your Return
And after all that – when you return – then enjoy the tail wagging and slobber during the reunion. But try not to make a huge deal of this, this is just business as usual.
And this stability in habitat and routine will help reassure your dog. Give your dog a small reward and a cuddle… and enjoy your afternoon or evening.
Time for that second walk and some fresh air!
Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog Alone? Dog-sitting and Dog Walking
Dog sitters and dog walkers cab be the perfect solution to worries about leaving your Border Collie alone. However, it can be hard to find someone who is willing to care for your dog while you are away, especially if they are an older or ill Border Collie. If you cannot find anyone in time, consider leaving them at a doggy daycare center instead of alone in the house for longer periods of time.
Hopefully, though you will find a friend, family member or neighbor who is willing to pop in a feed them, and let them out to pee or even have a short walk. Pet sitters are becoming increasingly common ask at your local veterinarian or look online for local groups.
ALSO… consider bringing them along with you! Your collie would likey love to accompany you on your various jobs if this can be done safely and whilst you retaining your job! Dogs are extremely social animals and can get bored alone at home if left unattended for long periods of time. It may be inconvenient to bring your dog with you, but in some cases it is far better than leaving them alone to get into mischief.
Do Border Collies Like TV and Radio When Alone?
Do Border Collies Watch TV?
Border Collies are extremely smart and they like to be entertained. As a herding breed, that herding instinct with your high energy dog means extra stimulation will help, including possibly TV or radio!
If you’re gone all day, leaving the TV on might help to keep them company and occupy their time. However, just make sure that the TV isn’t too distracting and doesn’t have any shows with loud noises because they will bark along with whatever is going on.
We actually recommend radio rather than TV, as the images can be distracting – and this will save on your energy bills too!
Do Border Collies Like Music When Alone?
A radio playing can be the perfect companion for your companion dogs and it can be a good idea to leave the radio on while you are away. As pet parents, we really do have to think of everything, don’t we!?
Dogs can enjoy upbeat music, pop or country. Or they may prefer classical, their taste varies like ours. Try playing music for your dog so you can figure out what they like. If you have friends with dogs, ask them to help you test it out on their pups.
Also try having a talk or sports station playing instead of music to see which your pup prefers. They may also prefer complete silence!
Can Border Collies Live In Good Apartment Dogs?
Can Border Collies Live Outside?
Do Border Collies Bark A Lot?
Are Border Collies Good Guard Dogs?
Do Border Collies Get Separation Anxiety?