A Whippet is often described as having an on/off switch, meaning he is either in wide-open mode dashing around the yard with wild abandon or is curled up on his favorite couch immersed in his dreams. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground with Whippets. They were born to run, and running is what they love to do. Well, that and sleeping.
It would be nice if there was an actual switch to turn your Whippet on or off to accommodate your schedule. After all, everyone needs to leave home once in a while, and it would be great to do so without worrying. Perhaps you’re wondering if this Velcro breed is ever secure enough to be left alone at home.
Can Whippets be left alone? Well trained and adjusted Whippets can be left alone for a maximum of eight hours though this isn’t ideal. Whippets are social dogs who prefer company. Crate training or adding another Whippet for companionship can help if the dog must be left alone at home.
Keep reading to discover what you can realistically expect when you must leave your Whippet behind and tips to make the process easier when the time comes.
How Long Can You Leave a Whippet Home Alone?
If your Whippet is accustomed to being left, is completely housebroken, is allowed to run and play before and after time alone, doesn’t chew your belongings, and is usually asleep whenever indoors, you may be able to leave him for up to eight hours. Less is always better though. Puppies, however, are another matter entirely.
A puppy’s little system just isn’t mature enough to “hold it” for long periods of time. A general rule for time between potty breaks is one hour for every month of age. So, a 3-month-old puppy will need to go at least every three hours.
You may want to consider enlisting the help of a trusted neighbor or friend if you are unable to pop in at home several times throughout the day. After all, you don’t want to undo the strides you’ve made in housebreaking. Your pup will appreciate the chance to relieve himself and the extra human interaction.
How Many Hours Is Too Many?
Although eight hours of alone time is possible with an adult Whippet, it is neither recommended nor ideal. Anything beyond that, however, is definitely too long. Puppies should never be left longer than the recommended potty break guidelines.
Signs that your dog has been left alone for too long include:
- Accidents in the crate or around the house.
- Signs of depression or extreme changes in behavior.
- Unusual hyperactivity when you return home.
Should They Be Crated When You’re Away?
A crate is a great way to ensure your dog is safe when you’re away from home and is a terrific housebreaking tool when used correctly. So, yes, crate training your Whippet is a wonderful idea, especially if you enjoy coming home to find your belongings still intact and your pup alive and well.
Keep in mind that a crate can feel like a cozy den to a dog who has been properly introduced to the idea. Denning is a natural instinct for canines, providing them their own space to feel protected and relaxed in.
If you must be separated from your dog during the day (in today’s hectic world, who isn’t often busy away from home?) a crate will give you some peace of mind. You can be confident that your little one won’t be chewing through walls, consuming toxic products, or having accidents on your expensive carpet.
What Age Can They Be Left Out Alone?
There really isn’t a magical age for a Whippet to be considered okay to have free roam of the house. Every dog matures at a different rate. Some will leave destructive chewing behind before they’re a year old. Others may be closer to three before puppy behaviors vanish completely.
Your Whippet’s maturity level will be the deciding factor as to when you can start to leave the crate door open while your away. Although most puppies are through with teething by eight months, some will continue to get into trouble until they are fully mature.
Note how your Whippet has evolved in recent months. Have you not had to replace your slippers in a while? Does he generally sleep when indoors? Are you confident that he respects the house rules you’ve taught him? Is he housebroken? If you can honestly answer these questions with a “yes,” then he may be ready for some freedom.
How to Transition From Crate to Free-roaming?
Don’t worry. Transitioning to more freedom is easier than you may think. The trick is to make the transition gradually, just a little at a time, until you feel that your Whippet is trustworthy enough to have free reign of the house. Here’s the way to do it:
- Put your Whippet in his crate just as you normally would when leaving the house, but leave the crate door open.
- Come back inside after just a minute or two and praise him if he’s been quiet and calm.
- Repeat step one, but this time stay outside for a few more minutes and praise him if he’s been good. If he has panicked or loudly protested, back to steps one and two.
- Continue the process, increasing the time increments slowly. Work up to 30 minutes, then an hour, then two hours, etc. until you’re confident that he’ll behave when you are away from home.
What Are Some Things You Can Do to Make Alone Time Easier For Your Whippet?
A radio tuned to a classical music station can surround your dog with a relaxing atmosphere and encourage him to snooze away the hours. Leaving the television on will work too, just steer clear of violent channels or any that feature barking dogs.
Leaving some treats and toys for your Whippet will help the hours to pass more quickly. Make sure that any toys are completely safe and indestructible. A Kong stuffed with peanut butter or mashed bananas and frozen will keep him safely occupied for a while.
Don’t make a big deal of leaving. Lengthy goodbyes will only create anxiety in your dog. If you make a big fuss about leaving, he will assume that it is a big deal, and that is exactly what you want to avoid.
Practice walking out the door a few times. Give your pup a treat and say something like, “Back in a bit!” For the first few attempts, come right back in the house, and praise him if he’s calm and relaxed. Gradually increase the time that you remain outside until he hardly notices when you leave.
The most important things that you can do for your Whippet are to give him plenty of exercise and lots of attention both before and after you leave the house. If his physical and emotional needs are satisfied, he’ll likely snooze away the day.
How Can You Avoid Separation Anxiety?
Perhaps you’ve heard that Whippets sometimes suffer from separation anxiety, and indeed, in some cases they do. Because this issue is usually caused by improper training and/or spoiling the dog, separation anxiety does not have to be part of your dog’s story.
So, what can you do to prevent separation anxiety? Avoid coddling your Whippet. You want to teach him that it is perfectly okay to not spend every single minute with you.
- Crate train.
- Don’t encourage him to follow you from room to room when you’re home.
- Praise him when he naps in a separate room from where you are working.
- Don’t go overboard with the goodbyes and greetings.
- Ignore the bad behavior and reward the good.
This may sound counterproductive, but consider adding another Whippet to your household. Many Whippets deal with their owner’s absence much better when they have a canine companion to keep them company. In fact, many Whippet breeders recommend bringing home two dogs instead of one for this very reason.