Boston Terriers are very popular family pets. Their charming faces, cheerful nature, and clownish antics make them irresistible to everyone, from actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and Rose McGowan to legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, even US presidents like Gerald Ford and Warren Harding!
So how do all these busy people juggle demanding jobs with being dog owners? Can their dogs handle being left alone without their human companions? Let’s take a look at how Boston Terriers might deal with this situation.
What is a Boston Terrier?
Boston Terrier: History
These charismatic little dogs have been around since the 1800s and were first seen in America. They were originally the product of cross-breeding the English Bulldog with the (now extinct) White English Terrier.
They were intended to be used in pit-fighting, but their friendly demeanor and lack of aggression meant that they very quickly became more popular as family pets.
Boston Terrier: Temperament
Boston Terriers are known for being very friendly and good-natured. They are gentle and cheerful but can be easily excited by new people. They are also super clownish and goofy, but remarkably intelligent.
Boston Terrier: Sociability
These little dogs are naturally friendly and tolerant of just about everybody. They do fine with kids and other pets, so make a great addition to any family. They can be a little protective of their loved ones and might bark at strangers, but once they realize they aren’t a threat they quickly relax and become excited at the prospect of a new friend!
Boston Terrier: Activity
Boston Terriers can vary in activity levels, being anything from a total couch potato to a ball of hyperactive, google-eyed energy, bouncing off of every surface in the house (including you!).
But even high-energy Boston Terriers don’t actually need an awful lot of exercise and will tire pretty quickly. A brisk walk or quick run will do just as well as a game of fetch in the backyard (although new sights and smells are important for their mental well-being).
Boston Terrier: Health
Like all brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs, Bostons have difficulties with their breathing. This means that you have to be careful with them getting out of breath because they might not be able to get enough oxygen in. They also are not very good at regulating their body temperature, so you need to be sure they don’t overheat.
What does this mean for leaving them alone?
Dogs are highly social animals, so being alone is not a naturally comfortable thing for any breed. Boston Terriers are no exception, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t get used to it. Like with all dogs, this isn’t something that can happen overnight and has to be done gradually. Here are some tips and things to bear in mind for leaving your Boston at home alone.
Start them young and start slow
The easiest way to get your dog comfortable with being alone is to start them off early (this doesn’t mean you can’t do it with an older dog, but it may take a little longer). Start them off with really short periods by themselves (maybe 30-60 minutes), so that they understand that you will always come back. As they get more comfortable, you can start to extend this period more and more.
Have reasonable limits
Don’t push them too hard. Bostons are very sociable and become very attached to their owners. This means that they shouldn’t be left alone longer than 4-8 hours even if they are used to it (very calm and confident dogs may manage 12).
Puppies will need to eat and go to the bathroom more frequently and need more attention than adults, so should never be left alone for more than two or three hours.
Use a crate
Crate-training can be a really useful tool, not necessarily because you have to keep them in it all day (and actually no longer than 4 hours at a time is really fair), but because it can become a safe space for them. This can help them deal with anxiety when you’re not around because they have space that is confined and familiar and they feel safe in.
Keep them entertained
Anybody would get bored sitting at home alone all day with nothing to do. Boston Terriers are upbeat and playful little guys, so leaving them with plenty of toys, puzzles, and games is a great way to stop them from getting bored. It’s also in your best interests, as they can get a little destructive if they’re bored (don’t get attached to your furniture!).
Burn off their energy
Take them out for a runaround or a walk to tire them out before you leave. This will mean they have less energy to burn while you’re away, so they’re less likely to get bored or anxious.
Don’t feel guilty
It’s hard for any dog owner to leave them behind, especially knowing that it won’t be easy for them at first. It’s very easy to get caught up in feelings of guilt or shame but don’t. Firstly, with the right approach, your dog won’t suffer, so you actually have nothing to feel bad about.
Secondly, they are really in-tune with your emotions. If you’re anxious or upset, they’ll know, and that will make them anxious and upset too. Just stay calm, take it easy, and show them there’s nothing to worry about.
Don’t make it a big deal
You might be tempted to make a big fuss of them when you leave or shower them with affection and excitement when you return (especially if you’re already feeling bad about leaving them). This actually isn’t really the best thing for your dog. This kind of behavior blows things up and makes you leaving seem like a much bigger deal than it really is.
Lead by example. Show your dog that this is a normal thing and not something that they need to pay a lot of attention to or get emotional about.
Understand the issue
If your dog is struggling with being left alone, try to understand why. Understanding the cause of the problem is the best way to start finding a solution.
There is a difference between isolation anxiety and separation anxiety. Isolation anxiety means your dog doesn’t handle being alone very well, whereas separation anxiety means your dog doesn’t want to be separated from a specific person (i.e. you!).
If they just don’t like being alone, you can help them out by having a friend or neighbor come to check on them, or leaving them with family or doggy daycare. If they struggle being separated from you though, you’ll have to work a little harder to convince them you’re always going to come back
Either way, if your dog is really having a hard time or you don’t feel like you’re making progress, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help.
You will always need to make sure they have:
- Food and water
- A toilet space
- A safe space
We know a little more about how to go about leaving your dog alone, but how do you actually physically leave them? Can you leave them outside? Is it better to keep them locked in a pet-safe room? Is it safer to crate them?
There are pros and cons to all of these options, but here’s some information that makes helps you figure out the best option for you and your Boston.
|Crate||Safe: Your dog can’t hurt themselves They can’t damage anything The crate is a safe space, so they will feel less anxious||Restrictive. They can’t move around or go to the bathroom easily They might get bored 4 hour maximum|
|Playpen||Safe for your dog and your furniture Can fit plenty of toys in Gives a little more room for movement Can put crate inside too||Still not a huge amount of space May be harder to set up|
|Room||A lot more space and room for movement Bigger, so more to look at/smell More options for toys Can fit a crate in Can easily create a “toilet corner”||Needs to be thoroughly pet-proofed|
|Outside||Lots of room to run around Lots of room for toys and a crate Easy toilet clean up Plenty of exciting smells and sounds More going on around them so stays interesting||Needs to be pet-proofed Less safe Bostons don’t do so well with weather conditions, so not suitable all year/in all climates They may feel a little threatened or anxious if there are loud noises or other dogs passing frequently|
Ultimately every dog and every situation is different, so you have to work out what suits you guys best, but for a lot of people, keeping your dog in either a playpen or a puppy-proof room, with plenty of toys and access to a crate is a really good option. Your dog will be safe (as will the rest of your house!), but not confined or bored.
As with all dogs, if you make sure that you get them used to being alone gradually and safely, your Boston Terrier should do just fine alone for a few hours, and should adapt and be stress-free and happy.