Solutions for when your dog has to stay home alone

Having worked from home for a long period and then suddenly have to return to the office can be difficult for your dog, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your world. Here are a few ideas of what you can do to keep your dog occupied and happy while you’re at the office.

Prepare your dog

Behaviourist Samantha Walpole says that it is extremely important to prepare your dog before you go back to the office. Do the following for at least a week before:

  1. Mock leave Pretend that you are going somewhere by going through the normal rituals – take your car keys and your handbag, lock other doors, and then exit the house – even if you have to sit in your car for a while.
  2. Go shopping When you leave, go through the same routine as you would when going to work. Your dog will get used to the fact that you will return.
  3. Alone time Do some things alone, without your dog. Instead of calling him to join you to do a certain activity, leave him to do his own thing.
  4. Put up a barrier Use a baby gate, or close some doors, so that he isn’t in your presence every minute of the day. This will also help him to get used to being on his own again.
  5. Play games Play hide-and-seek or ‘find the treats’ with your dog, during which you disappear out of his sight for a while. He’ll get used to you showing up later again.

New routine

Dogs are creatures of habit and, just as routines are important to children and adults for mental wellness, they are also important for our dogs. Your dog will pick up when the routine has changed. “Stick to a schedule with your dog as much as possible. A stable and consistent routine provides security and predictability and will help your dog to feel more secure and better able to cope when you return to work,” says behaviourist Alyson Kingsley-Hall.

Safety first

When your dog has to stay by himself at home during the day, you need to ensure that his environment is safe. You can install cameras or use baby monitors to see what he gets up to while you’re at the office. Don’t be too surprised if you find that your dog actually sleeps a lot during the day. But if he suffers from separation issues, you need to know so that you can do something about it, like consulting a behaviourist.

It’s also very important that your dog has access to a place where he can relieve himself. Not only is it unhealthy to expect your dog to ‘keep it in’ all day long, but you also don’t want to place your dog in a situation where he doesn’t know where he can go. And of course, you wouldn’t want to get home to a place that is a mess.


When you leave your home in the mornings, don’t make a big fuss when you say goodbye to him. The more excited he gets, the more difficult it will be for him to settle down once you’ve left. Keep the fuss for the evening.

Pet day care

If your furbaby doesn’t do well home alone, then you might want to take him to a reputable pet day care. It might be worth your while to first find a few and then investigate them without your dog, and when you’re happy, then take your dog for a short visit. At first, leave him there for a very short period and see how he copes before you leave him for an entire day.

Some dogs just don’t do well at day care. For those dogs, a pet sitter might be a solution. You know your dog best and you’ll know if a pet sitter for an hour or two will do, or whether the pet sitter should be with your doggy the entire day.

Another option is to find out if your employer will allow your dog to accompany you to the office. There are many things to think about before you choose this option – like where your dog will be at the office, whether there are people who are allergic to or afraid of dogs, whether your dog is well socialised, and if he will be happy at the office.

Special times

Whatever you do to keep your dog busy during the day, make sure that he has many toys to play with and make time when you are at home to play with him. Spend dedicated time with him and make sure that he is doing well mentally and physically. And don’t worry too much – many dogs cope well on their own during the day.


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