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When you get ready to leave your house for work or a quick errand, are you confident that your pooch will settle down for a leisurely snooze until you return? That’s what the owner of three black Labrador Retrievers thought. But while she was out, those silly dogs ate the popcorn strung on her Christmas tree. Amazingly, the tree remained standing. She wished she’d had a camera to watch how they managed that maneuver.

Unlike this pack of Labs, most dogs do rest while you’re away. One video-based study conducted in 2021 followed 32 dogs in single-dog households and 45 dogs in multiple-dog households. Researchers found that in general, the dogs showed low physical and vocal activity when home alone. Male dogs were more prone to stay by the door, but dogs in multi-dog households were more active.

“We know our dogs are very social and want to be with us. Opinions vary regarding how long dogs can stay home alone,” says Dr. Mary Burch, certified animal behaviorist and director of the AKC Family Dog Program.

German Shepherd Dog puppy chewing on a shoe alone at home.
NikWaller/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

How to Keep an Eye on Your Dog

When dogs become anxious or bored when left at home, there’s no telling what they may do to occupy the time. “Chewing cushions, taking and eating food from the counter, and eating inedible objects are things dogs do when home alone, and these behaviors are potentially dangerous,” Dr. Burch says.

Watching what’s going on via a reliable camera may be just what you need to keep your dog and your house safe. Ring devices, including indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, and video doorbells, allow you to see, hear, and communicate with your furry friends from anywhere, anytime.

  1. The Ring Indoor Camera has high-definition Live View and Two-Way Talk enabling you to see, hear, and speak to your pets. Just plug it in and monitor your dog’s behavior through the Ring App. Plus, get alerts to know when your pup is up and about – or up to no good!
  2. Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus covers large outdoor areas of your home, such as your driveway or garden, featuring a wide-angle view and powerful motion-activated LED floodlights.

Things Dogs Do When You’re Not Home

While most dogs may just be chill as they wait for your return, some pets seek some more entertainment. “Boredom and lack of exercise for a dog can lead to mischief when you’re away that can be harmless, funny, or frustrating to the owner,” Dr. Burch says. “Some dogs watch television if it’s left on for them,

Our friends at Ring captured some hilarious misadventures that dogs got into while their owners were away. See what was caught on camera using Ring’s indoor cameras:

Things to Do Before You Leave the House

As a responsible dog owner, you can prepare your dog for the times you need to go out and leave them home.

  • If you have a puppy, Burch recommends using a crate until your dog is reliable.
  • Build up the amount of time the dog is left alone gradually.
  • Put food away, as well as anything that might be attractive to chew like your running shoes.
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise before you leave, as well as a chance to relieve themself.
  • Leave an interactive dog toy or a stuffed Kong to keep your dog busy for a little while.
  • When you return after leaving the house remain low-key and relaxed.
  • If you’re gone 8 to 10 hours each day, plan for a dog walker or neighbor to take your pet out.
  • Purchase a Ring camera to give you peace of mind and the ability to reassure your dog when they need it.

Dalmatian laying on its dog bed at home, bored and lonely.
SolStock/Getty Images Plus

What to Do if You Notice Anxious Behaviors

If you’ve noticed some more mischievous behavior when monitoring your dog, it may indicate something more than boredom, and you may need the help of an animal behaviorist. “If your dog destroys items such as shoes, furniture, etc., urinates or defecates in the house, or howls or barks for long periods of time, they may have separation anxiety,” Dr. Burch suggests.

In this case, your dog exhibits extreme stress at being left alone. A dog that was never previously left alone or has recently experienced life changes such as a move to a new home, sudden schedule change, or the absence of a family member, may suffer from separation anxiety.

It can be difficult to figure out what triggers the problem, so contact your vet and they can refer you to a specialist. Luckily, speaking to your dog via a two-way speaker remotely or having someone nearby check in-in when you’re away if you notice anything out of the ordinary can help relieve any stress.

Related article: Can Huskies Talk and What are They Saying?
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