Being left alone is not a natural concept for dogs. In nature, the concept of separation doesn’t exist for a dog. The pack is always together. Even when some members of the pack are away they are waiting with the other dogs. It is a natural behavior for a dog to follow and be with its pack.
In the human world, we have responsibilities that require that we separate from our group to go to work, school, and so on. A dog has to learn what seems like unnatural behavior to feel normal and become natural.
With the right conditioning and training, your dog will learn to become accepting of being left alone and not stressed out about it. This may require a little planning and effort, especially initially.
Can you leave an Australian Cattle Dog home alone?
Yes, a well-trained Blue Heeler can be left home alone as long as they have everything they need and the right preparation. Whether your individual Blue Heeler can be left alone depends on their personality and temperament, age, health, and whether they are used to being left alone.
Australian Cattle Dogs can be what is referred to as velcro breed. This means that they want to be near you whenever possible. Learn more about Blue Heelers as velcro dogs here. Leaving even a velcro Blue Heeler alone is possible, but this may require a little planning and effort, especially initially.
How long can an Australian Cattle Dog be left alone?
With a well-trained Blue Heeler, it should be fine to leave them for periods up to 8 or 9 hours while you are working. This is assuming that they are getting plenty of exercise when you are there and have been conditioned to be alone for long periods of time. It is also crucial to ensure they have everything they need and ways to keep themselves occupied to prevent boredom.
For other Blue Heelers that tend to have mild separation anxiety, 8 hours may be too long. If your Blue Heeler fits into this category it is a good idea to have someone visit to break up the time alone. This can be a friend, family member, or even a dog walker to break up the time alone.
How long can you leave a Blue Heeler puppy home alone?
The needs of a young Blue Heeler puppy are different from those of an adult dog. Ideally, the longest you should leave a young puppy alone is up to 4 hours.
A Blue Heeler puppy will need to go to the toilet more often and be fed more times a day. They also require more social contact. If they recently left their mother and siblings this time in their new home is crucial for their development and bonding with you.
If your Blue Heeler puppy is to be confined to a crate they should not be left for too long. Recommended maximum time in a crate for a puppy is
|8 to 10 weeks old||up to 1 hour|
|11 to 12 weeks old||up to 2 hours|
|13 to 16 weeks old||up to 3 hours|
|Over 4 months old||up to 4 hours|
Do Blue Heelers like to be left alone?
Every dog is an individual even of the same breed. Australian Cattle Dogs prefer the companionship of other people and dogs. However, they do learn to become accepting of being left alone and not stressed out about it.
Do Blue Heelers get separation anxiety?
Although most Blue Heelers can adapt and become accepting of being home alone, some can suffer from separation anxiety and stress about it. There are different types and degrees of separation anxiety. This can range from mild stress to extreme anxiety.
Extreme separation anxiety is a very serious situation where a dog is so stressed by being left they can injure themselves. This level of separation anxiety is not as common as you may think. For a dog that has extreme separation anxiety, only a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can help.
Blue Heelers that have less severe separation issues, can learn to become better being left alone. Learn more about separation anxiety in Blue Heelers here.
Many owners consider getting another Blue Heeler or dog as a companion for their existing dog. This is a serious decision that needs a lot of thought given before making such as move. For more on Blue Heelers in pairs see here.
Importance of exercise for a Blue Heeler that is left alone
Australian Cattle Dogs are an extremely active working breed that requires a lot of exercise and activity daily. It is recommended that they get around 2 hours of energy-burning activity daily but won’t say no to more. For a guide to Blue Heeler exercise with suggestions see here.
If you are going to be leaving your Blue Heeler home alone often, it is crucial that they receive the exercise they require. Failure to do so can result in behavior problems like nuisance barking, destructive behavior, digging, and even escaping. Lack of exercise can often also lead to a Blue Heeler that is hyper all the time. For more on calming a hyper Blue Heeler see here.
Blue Heelers are also highly intelligent smart dogs and require a lot of mental stimulation and enrichment in addition or exercise. Mental exercise can help tire a dog just as much as physical exercise. For more on mental stimulation and enrichment for Blue Heelers see here.
Where to keep a Blue Heeler when home alone
If you have an Australian Cattle Dog that is well trained and you completely trust it is probably fine to just give them the run of the house or property. However, if you have a young Heeler puppy or an adult that has some anxiety or behavior issues you will need to consider where to confine them.
Options for confining your Blue Heeler when left home alone include –
- Crate Confinement: This is only suitable for a Blue Heeler puppy and should only be for short periods of time – 1 to 4 hours maximum.
- Play or Exercise Pen: A playpen is a better option for a young Blue Heeler puppy if you are going to be away for a while. You can attach a crate to the outside of the pen to give them a safe area. I would recommend using a playpen with a roof for a Blue Heeler puppy. They can be quite resourceful at escaping and if they climbed up the side of a playpen they could hurt themselves.
- Room Confinement: You can confine your Blue Heeler puppy or even adult dog to a pet-safe room. The best rooms are the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, or an empty spare room. This is a good option for dogs with anxiety as they will feel more secure. Be sure to remove any potential hazards or cables they may chew.
- Garage or Basement: This can be a good area to confine your Blue Heeler when home alone. Be sure to remove any potential hazards that may cause harm. This can include chemicals like antifreeze, or sharp tools.
- Outside in Yard: If you have a fully fences section you can keep your Blue Heeler in the yard. There are a few things to take into consideration if leaving your Blue Heeler outside. This includes ensuring the yard is escape-proof, the weather, and if they have behavior issues such as nuisance barking. You should also be aware of the potential of dog theft. This is more common they many people realize. Putting a padlock on gates is a good idea
- Outside in dog run: Another alternative to keeping your Blue Heeler outside in the yard is to use a secure kennel and run.
What you Blue Heeler needs when home alone
It is important to make sure your Blue Heeler has everything they will need while home alone. This includes –
- A Comfort Area: This is an area your Blue Heeler can feel safe and secure. This may be a kennel with their bed in if they are outside or a corner of the room or a crate with the door open inside.
- Shelter: For a Blue Heeler that is kept outside you need to provide a shelter for protection against the weather. This can be a dog kennel or access to a garage or shed.
- Food: If you are going to be out when it is their normal feeding time it is a good idea to leave food for them. Dogs like routine and structure. If you are not home when they normally would eat they may feel worried. A good option for leaving food for your Blue Heeler is to use an automatic dog feeder. This will prevent them from just eating the food as soon as you are gone and having nothing at meal time.
- Water: It is crucial Blue Heeler has access to fresh water at all times. A standard water bowl can be knocked only and they may be left with no water. It is a good idea to use a non-spill water bowl.
- Toilet Area: If you are leaving a puppy home alone for a long period they will need to go to the toilet. An adult dog can hold their bladder for up to 24 hours. The best options for a puppy are to use puppy pads or an artificial grass puppy toilet.
- Toys and ways to entertain themselves. See here for recommended toys for Blue Heelers.
Teaching a Blue Heeler to be home alone
Every dog should be able to be left home alone at some stage. Ideally, they should be taught this as a puppy. However, you can teach an older dog to be fine at home alone or at less tolerate it. It is a good idea to give them practice by starting with a short length of time and gradually increasing the time period.
Start by leaving your Blue Heeler in the selected confinement area for around 30 minutes to an hour every day. They will quickly learn to cope with this and have confidence that you always return.
Make the time they are left alone as pleasant as possible. provide everything they need such as food, water, and toys. A Kong toy or chew toy is a good option. See here for recommended chew toys for Blue Heelers. Chewing keeps a dog occupied and is very calming. Learn more about chewing for a dog’s mental health here.
Even when you are home you can practice alone time for your Blue Heeler. Put them in their confined area such as a selected room and go about doing your own thing,
It is important to show your Blue Heeler that being home alone is not a big deal. Keep leaving and returning low key and don’t make a big fuss.
How to entertain a Blue Heeler left home alone
It is important to ensure your Blue Heeler has plenty of ways to stay occupied when left alone. A bored Blue Heeler may look for ways to entertain themselves and this may not be in a constructive way. Some suggestions include –
View to the outside world: Allow your Blue Heeler to be able to see out a window by leaving the curtains open. It is a good idea to make this a window looking out to the backyard. if they can see the street they may be tempted to bark at people and dogs passing.
Background sound: Leave the radio or television on to provide some ambient sound.
Enrichment box: Fill a cardboard box with toys and treats wrapped in paper or put them in smaller boxes. You may come home to a mess of ripped-up paper but it is worth it for the value they will get.
A scent trail: If your Blue Heeler is to be kept outside you can splash some beef or chicken stock around the section.
Leave toys for them: Provide your Blue Heeler with a selection of toys. This should include chew toys or a bone. Treat stuffing puzzle toys are also a good option. See here for recommended toys for Blue Heelers.
For more enrichment ideas for your Blue Heeler see here.
Monitoring your Blue Heeler when home alone
If your Blue Heeler is home alone for extended periods of time you may want to check upon them. There are two ways to go about this.
Arrange Visitors: You can arrange for a neighbor, friend, or family member to pop in and visit. Even if you are unable to arrange a visitor it is a good idea to give your neighbors a contact number to call if there are any concerns.
Use a pet camera: There is quite a range of pet cameras available. These can vary in price and function. Some are just simple cameras that you can view on your phone. Others have extra features such as two-way communication. These allow you to speak to your dog and have a microphone so you can hear them. They may even send an alert to your phone to let you know they are barking. Other devices include a treat dispenser so you can throw your dog a treat.
Alternatives to leaving your Blue Heeler home alone
Some dogs simply are not able to be left home alone. This may be due to separation anxiety or behavior issues. In this situation there are a few different options you may consider. These may include –
This has become a popular option for many working dog owners unable to leave their dogs at home. It is important to do your research to ensure it is a good fit for your dog.
Doggie Daycare may not be suitable for all dogs and not all dogs are suitable for Doggie Daycare. Most good Doggie Daycare will have an assessment day or half-day to ensure it is the right option for your dog.
Doggie Daycare facilities vary in size and what they offer. Many also operate as dog boarding kennels. The number of dogs and group sizes can vary and they may be purely indoor facilities or have an outside area as well.
Another type of Doggie Daycare is the smaller at-home service. This is where someone will cater to a small group of dogs in their own home. This option can be better for an anxious dog that may find a bigger setup overwhelming.
Take your dog to work:
It has become quite common for many workplaces to allow you to take your dog to work. If you are lucky enough to work in a company that has a pet-friendly policy it would be a good option to consider.
Leave your dog with friends or family:
If you have friends or family that can mind your dog at their place or yours would be ideal. The company of people they know and trust would be good.
Hire a Pet Minder:
There are many good pet sitting services that can either visit or stay with your dog. Some pet sitters will bring them to their homes. Again it is important to do your research and find a pet sitter that is right for your dog.
A mix of options:
A mixture of several of these options would be best for your dog. You could choose to bring your dog to Doggie Daycare a couple of days a week. On other days you may have a friend or family member look after them.
You can choose any combination of options that are best suited for you and your dog.
Conclusion – Leaving a Blue Heeler home alone
Whether your individual Blue Heeler can be left alone depends on their personality and temperament, age, health, and whether they are used to being left alone. A well-trained Blue Heeler should be fine to leave home alone.
If you have a Blue Heeler puppy or an adult with some anxiety it may take some training but they will learn to cope with being alone.
Ensure that you leave your Blue Heeler with everything they need such as shelter, food, water, and ways to entertain themselves.