Can collies be left alone? How to prevent separation anxiety

Collies prefer to have someone around all day as they are highly sociable animals however they can be left alone for short periods as long as

As a general rule, collies should not be left alone for more than 4 hours a day. If they are left alone regularly, collies are prone to developing separation anxiety. Providing stimulating enrichment opportunities while you’re away can help prevent your collie from getting bored or worried.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how long collies can be left alone for, why it’s important that they aren’t left alone for too long, and some tips to prevent separation anxiety or compulsive behaviors in your collie when you do have to leave them by themselves.

Can Collies be Left alone?

Collies don’t like being alone and can develop behavioral and phycological issues if they are left alone for long periods regularly. As a general rule, collies are perfectly fine to be left alone for around four hours each day, but you should avoid leaving them for extended periods.

Of course, we all have to work or nip to the shops but as a rule collies should not be on their own for more than 4 hours a day or else they may develop separation anxiety. After all, would you like to be alone with no one to talk to for the majority of the day?

Collies just cant help how they feel and leaving a collie alone often breaks their minds as well as their hearts.

If you are going to be away from your collie for an extended period of time, its best to hire a dog walker or book them into a doggy day care so they do not feel isolated and develop separation anxiety.

How long can collies be left alone?

Collies can be left alone for short periods. As a rule of thumb, try not to leave your collie alone for more than four hours at a time without some time outdoors and some company to stop them feeling anxious.

If left alone for too long, collies’ minds can become addled, which often manifests itself in unwanted destructive behaviors such as chewing shoes, rugs, and clothes, compulsively chewing on themselves, chasing their tail or chasing shadows, of compulsive barking.

This type of destructive behavior is very sad and is unfortunately quite common in collies due to their intelligence.

Destructive behaviors are often a sign of anxiety and boredom in collies which if not properly acknowledged and managed will drastically impact their quality of life.

Can you leave collies alone when you go to work?

If you will be away from your collie for more than four hours while you are at work then it’s best to hire a dog walker or have family or a friend check in on them. Collies don’t do well on their own and you should try not to leave them alone for more than four hours to ensure they don’t become anxious or stressed.

Hiring a reliable dog walker while you are at work is a good way to provide your collie with the opportunity to go to the toilet and get some fresh air an exercise while you’re not there.

Could you hold it in for 8 or 9 hours? Your collie is the same, so unless you want to come back to a defecated home, hire a dog walker or ask someone you trust to take your collie a walk while you are away.

Of course, if your collie is kept outdoors in a secure dog run then this is a different matter. Chances are your collie would prefer this option rather than being stuck in a small crate indoors for eight or more hours while you are at work.

If this is the case, then yes, you can leave your collie for as long as necessary while you work as a high quality dog run will allow your collie open space to stretch their legs and go to the toilet as well as an indoor area to shelter for them elements.

Luna laps up the luxury at her Grans while I am at work.

How to spot Separation anxiety in Collies

Collies are more prone to separation anxiety than other breeds and if left alone too long then this may manifest itself in destructive, disruptive and undesirable behaviors.

A collie suffering from separation anxiety will not tolerate being left alone and will become anxious or act distressed when they are aware of their owners intentions to leave them.

Collies are smart and they have an intuition when their owners are getting ready to leave. They will recognize their owners putting on shoes or picking up keys and these subtle signs are indicators to your collie they will soon be left alone.

The result is a display of nervous and neurotic behavior even before their owner has physically left.

Below is a list of possible symptoms of separation anxiety in your collie:

1. Pacing

If your collie only paces when they are left alone, this is likely because they are suffering from separation anxiety. Pacing can include walking forwards and backwards along the same line or continually walking in circles.

2. trying to escape

If your collie tries to escape where they have been left alone by either chewing or scraping at windows, doors or their crate this is a sure sign your collie is experiencing separation anxiety.

This type of behavior can inflict injury on your collie if left unchecked and will only occur when they are on their own.

3. barking

If your collie barks constantly when you leave this is a sign they are suffering from separation anxiety. The barking will generally not let up until their owners arrive home and is your collies way of vocalizing their anxiety.

4. destructive behaviors

A collie suffering from separation anxiety may dig, chew and bite on anything and everything when their owners leave. This type of destructive behavior will only happen when a collie is left alone but can be dangerous for your collie as they may break teeth, damage their nails or swallow foreign objects.

Left home alone…Luna sought solace in ripping apart loo roll from the comfort of my bed.

5. peeing or pooping indoors

If your collie is peeing or pooping when you leave the house despite going to the toilet before you left this can be a sign of separation anxiety.

If your collie is defecating and urinating whilst you are still in the home, this is likely to due to another cause and they may just need a little house training.

6. eating their excrement

If your collie is pooping when you leave, they may also consume part of it. This is known as coprophagia. Eating excrement will only occur when your collie is left alone as this is when they suffer anxiety.

Why do collies get separation anxiety?

Collies are more prone to suffering from separation anxiety then other dog breeds because of their deeper level of attachment and bond with their owners.

Collies were originally bred to work as one with the hill farmers in Scotland and the trait of being strongly bonded to their owners has been passed on through breeding.

Collies become stressed and upset if they are left alone for long periods of time on a regular basis. Eventually this will trigger your dog into developing separation anxiety as they feel physically and spiritually lost without their owners around.

Separation anxiety can also be triggered by; moving home, a change in routine, a change of guardian, or a sudden absence of a family member.

Collies which have been adopted from rescue centers are more likely to display separation anxiety rather then collies who have been with the same family unit since puppyhood.

This is because collies who have lost an important person or people from their life are more likely to develop separation anxiety as they fear they may become abandoned again.

Collies love being around people so much, they can get nervous if they are on their own for too long.

How to prevent separation anxiety when you leave your collie alone

Even the most devoted collie owners will need to leave their collie alone on occasions so its best to take action to help prevent your collie from developing separation anxiety.

Below are a few options of how to prevent separation anxiety when your collie is left alone. These options are for mild to moderate cases of separation anxiety. For severe cases its always best to consult a vet or a collie behavioral expert.

1: Turn on the TV or radio

Music has been shown to boost the mood of humans and their canine counterparts. Classical music helps to relax your collie and it works as a natural sedative to help keep them calm.

Background noise of any sort might help your collie as it helps them feel someone else is in the house with them. Leaving the TV on will help mask any outdoor commotion which could add to your collies anxiety.

2: Provide puzzle toys

Puzzle toys such as a KONG are an excellent way to relieve your collies anxiety. Puzzle toys stuffed with treats helps focus your collies mind on completing a job to retrieve treats which alleviates anxiety.

Try freezing your collies KONG overnight as this will make it even more challenging and will occupy your crafty collies mind for longer.

A frozen peanut butter KONG keeps Luna’s busy mind occupied!

3: Hire a dog walker

Investing in a dog walker for your collie is a great option if you will be leaving them regularly. A dog walker will often walk your collie with other dogs so it will allow your collie to socialize whilst also running off their excess energy.

If you plan to use a dog walker regularly, your collie will soon accept this into their daily routine. This will help reduce anxiety as your collie will have their own mental map of the day and know they wont be left alone for too long before getting a walk.

4: get your collie a companion

Collies are highly social and do not like being alone. Getting your collie a friend can really help with their anxiety as they will have a companion for comfort.

If you are considering getting a companion but don’t want the hassle of another dog, consider getting a cat for your collie. If introduced during puppyhood a cat could be the perfect option to help reduce separation anxiety.

If however you have decided to get another dog, why not opt for a rescue dog? This means your giving a dog in need a good home and not supporting puppy farms.

Getting a rescue means you can introduce your collie to them before committing to adopting them. This will allow you to observe if your current collie gets on with them.

Any good rescue center will allow you to take your current dog along to several play dates to ensure your new rescue dog will be a good fit for your family.

A companion can be just what your collie needs to get over their separation anxiety as their new furry friend can offer them the emotional support they require.

5: Leave unwashed clothes for them

Collies miss you when you’re gone but leaving some unwashed clothes about will allow them to smell you, even when you are not there.

Having something with a strong scent of their owner has been proven to reduce dogs separation anxiety as they still feel like you are close by.

When choosing an item for your pooch ensure it doesn’t have small buttons or zips that your collie may accidentally ingest. Socks are a good option as they REALLY smell like you and if your collie happens to nibble it a little, replacing a sock is a lot easier than replacing your favorite sweater.

Whichever item you eventually choose, opt for a piece of clothing that has been against your body as this means more of your smell will be present.

Leaving some clothes around the house for your dog is a good way to keep them calm, since your clothes smell like you.

6: Take them a long walk

Exercise is a great way for your collie to bond with you and develop their trust in you also. Separation anxiety is often a fear of being abandoned but as your bond develops, your collie will soon realize they will never be left for long.

Long walks will also physically tire your collie out. As a rule collies need at least 2 hours of off leash exercise every single day. Exercising will prevent your collie having an abundance of excess energy which may lead to your collie developing more acute separation anxiety.

So, with plenty of exercise your collie will have less energy available to worry about your return and will likely appreciate a long nap and dream about their awesome adventures they had with their favorite human.

Also, just like humans, when collies exercise they release endorphins, the happy hormones that cause a feeling of elation. This feeling can reduce stress levels in your collie and reduce their separation anxiety.

Long walks can sometimes really be natures way of healing the mind.

7: Stick to a routine

Collies are creatures of habit, they absolutely love a routine and knowing what to expect each day. A collie who knows what to expect and when to expect it will often be more relaxed than a collie who has no consistency.

A lack of routine can be stressful for your collie. Sticking to a basic feeding, toileting and walking routine gives your collies day some structure.

Collies will appreciate this structured day as they will soon figure out that when you leave them alone at the same time each day you will also return later that day too!

Taking your collie a walk just before you leave and immediately after you come back allows your collie to know that they are a priority in your life and they will soon associate you physically leaving with a fun walk on your return.

A consistent, stable routine helps settle your collies mind knowing they have scheduled play times with their owners that they can look forward to each day.

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!