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Leaving a dog alone for 12 hours (not straight through) - is this okay?

  1. #1

    Leaving a dog alone for 12 hours (not straight through) - is this okay?

    Hi - I am new to this forum, but I need some input. I have had my dog for 10 months. I rescued her from a pretty hard core shelter and she had some separation anxiety and other behavior issues (barking at men, mostly), but we've worked through these issues for the most part with positive reinforcement training, socialization, confidence building and crate training (for the separation anxiety). She is an adult (~3 years old) lab mix.

    The crate has worked really well for us. She loves it in there, and I feed her frozen kongs when I leave. Basically it takes her an hour to get through the kong and then she sleeps the rest of the time I'm gone. I work a mile away from home and go home at lunch to take her out and give her another small kong as a snack.

    She really isn't ready to be out of the crate when I leave her alone. We've tried a few times and she has had accidents. We met with a behaviorist who said I should wait a full year before leaving her out of the crate when she's alone. I'm fine with this, but I have recently been accepted into a class that meets from 6-10pm every Monday and Wednesday night through mid-December.

    So, my question is, is it cruel to take this class and leave her alone this long on days when it meets? I would be able to go home and be with her for about 45-60 minutes between work and class (walk, play a bit, feed her dinner), but I am feeling SO guilty over this.

    This is what a typical weekday looks like for us right now:
    6:15-7:45 am: we run for 30 minutes, spend 45 minutes at the dog park, and then walk home.
    8:45-1 pm: I leave her in the crate with a frozen kong while I go to work
    1-1:30 pm: I am home for lunch, take her for a quick walk to pee.
    1:30 - 5:15 pm: she is alone again, with another (smaller) frozen kong, while I am at work.
    5:15 pm: I come home, we go for a 45 minute walk.

    During the week, the rest of the night is usually spent together. Occasionally I go out for an hour or two to meet a friend for dinner or go to yoga or something, but for the most part I'm around. I walk her again one last time around 9:30pm.

    So, the way this would change on Mondays/Wednesdays is that I would work from 8:30 - 4:30 instead of 9-5, so we'd get up earlier in the morning, and the schedule would shift a bit, but she'd still get running, park time, lunch walk, and post work walk. But then I'd leave her again for 4 hours in her crate to go to the class. I'd take her out again for a walk as soon as I got home, and I would not schedule other activities during the week, so I'd be home with her Tuesday/Thursday/Friday nights. I already spend 80% of the every weekend day with her, which wouldn't change.

    What do you think? I do not have the resources to get another pet at this time, and it would be pretty tough for me to get her to doggie day care or something (maybe I could do this once each week). It would be for 14 weeks. The class is next to my office, which is about 10 minutes away from my home.

    She does not sleep in the crate at night.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Las Vegas, NV
    Hi honey and welcome to the forum! As I was reading through your post I was trying to think what would be a good solution for you. I think you might have a good idea yourself though! If you could do the doggie day care I think that would really help. Better yet what about doing two half days (on your class days) for her? If that isn't possible you could think about hiring a pet walker/sitter. It could even be someone like a teenager in your neighborhood. If they could come and take your dog for a walk and play with her this could give her a great break in her day.

    Kudos to you for rescuing your furbaby!

  3. #3
    Thanks for your reply! So the good news is, a friend of mine who lives nearby is going to come by for 2 hours one of the nights while I'm at the class. She has a dog too, who gets along really well with my dog, so it will be good play time for them (it also works out for her dog because he has a hard time socializing with most dogs, but for some reason he and Honey get along great). After two hours playing with my friend's dog, Honey is always very worn out, so I think this will be even better than having me around

    As for the other night - I'm not quite sure. I will call around about doggie day care, but it is quite expensive. I may just take a longer lunch break midday so I can spend more time with her then. My boss is pretty understanding, and if it's only one day each week, I can make up the time on days when I don't have the class.

    She'll still be alone longer than I'd like in the evening, but since it's only one night, I think it will be okay. It's only for 14 weeks, so that's 14 nights she'll be alone for an extra 4 hours. I'll see how the first couple of weeks go, and if she is really upset by it, I'll find the money for day care.

    Thanks again for your input.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Las Vegas, NV
    That's great! I bet Honey will love having a friend over for playtime. She should sleep really well that night! I would definitely give it a try and see how she does on the one night she is left alone. How nice that you have great friends and an understanding boss .

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    I just want to say good on you for rescuing a dog, we have a Lab that we also got from a rescue shelter he is also three years old, he has a female shepherd as a mate, but Labs favorite thing seems to be sleeping, and watching what our shepherd does, so I don't think your Lab would be too worried about being left alone if she is anything like our Lab, before we got our shepherd our Lab used to sleep if we went out.A good Idea that we did was to buy a small 8 hour digital voice recorder and put it on while we were out just to see if there was any crying or barking, and when we played it back there was never any dog noises, also another good Idea is to leave a radio on for company.

  6. #6
    Hi honey i have been around animals all my life and i own a pet sitting comapany so have seen this sort of thing alot. i def agree with wombat. leaving on a radio is an awsome idea. something soothing like classic music. another thing you can do is find an old sweatshirt that you dont care anything about. wear it so your smell is on it and put it in the crate with her while your gone. its a sense of security. like a kid with a blanket. another thing you can do is if you have an old time answering machine that plays the messages out loud when a caller calls you can set it up so you can call during the day and just say hello. these are all things i have seen be done and work great. about the leaving her out of the crate while you are gone i would start in a small area like the utility rm where there is no carpet. use a baby gate. put down some news paper in case of an accident. just try it when you go to the grocery store or run a short errand. just to see how she does. then work up to a longer period and a bigger space.
    hope it helps. good luck!

    check out my online pet supply store

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