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Leaving Bernese Mountain Dogs Alone: What You Must Know

Although we can’t bring our dogs with us whenever we leave the house, it’s important to consider how they handle being alone.

For Bernese mountain dogs, being left alone can be quite an issue. This article explains everything owners must know to keep their friendly giant happy and content.

Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Be Left Home Alone?

Bernese Mountain Dogs do not cope well when left alone. Berners are highly sociable dogs and desire a lot of human interaction.

Berners tend to develop strong bonds with their owners and human family and therefore struggle when left alone for many hours on end.

In today’s world, it’s very normal for the average family to be out of the house from early morning to evening. Whether it’s work, college, school or running errands most households remain empty throughout the day.

This is a big problem for our dogs, who are highly social animals. Although it’s “normal” in most households it’s actually very detrimental to a dog’s mental health and behavior.

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How Long Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Be Left Alone?

The next question people ask is how long?

Most Bernese Mountain Dogs can be left alone for around 3-5 hours, but this doesn’t mean yours will be okay with this. All Berners are different, some may even go longer than this, but for most three to five hours will be the max.

This is why it’s important to find out your own Berners tolerance. Let’s look at that below.

Finding Out How Long Your Berner Can Tolerate:

To find out how long YOUR Berner can tolerate, you’ll need to leave him alone for different time periods, 30 minutes one day, 1 hour a different day, then 2 hours, and so on.

Observe the following when returning home:

Does your Berner look calm? relaxed? Anxious? Overly-excited? Their body language is one of the most important things to check when you come home. If it looks like your Berner has just woken from a nap, that’s awesome, but if he’s shaking with his tail between his legs, then you know this was past his tolerance.

Did you notice destructive behavior? scratching on the doors or near windows? Destructive behavior isn’t just a matter of training, it can happen when frustration and boredom set in. Even the most well-behaved dogs resort to destructive behavior when frustrated.

As you’re approaching your home, listen for whining, barking, or crying in any form. This is a clear sign your Berner is not coping well.

Use an indoor CCTV camera to monitor your Berner in real-time. I will cover this tip more later.

Knowing how long your Berner can tolerate is invaluable information. If you know that he’s always okay up until around 3 hours, then you can make arrangements to come home or have someone else visit before the 3-hour mark.

This will significantly reduce the long-term negative side effects that the next section is about to cover.

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Why Berners Should Not Be Left Alone Too Much

If your Bernese Mountain Dog spends too much time alone, there can be a range of negative health issues developing. Let’s take a look…

What can happen if your Bernese Mountain Dog is left alone too long, too often:

Isolation Distress
Separation Anxiety
Destructive Behavior
Temperament changes including aggression and aloofness

All of the above are serious conditions that any responsible pet owner should want to avoid at all costs.

Perhaps one of the saddest things about being left alone, is just how unhappy it will make your Berner.

These social dogs crave human-company, so not having it, will likely lead to stress, anxiety, and eventually depression.

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6 Ways To Keep Your Bernese Mountain Dog Happy When Alone

Here are 6 more ways you can help keep your Berner happy when home alone.

I must state, however, the only true way to keep him happy, is to have real, human company… Although the following tips may help, nothing beats getting a dog sitter or having friends visit your house to keep him company.

1. Give him an un-washed t-shirt of yours

The ultimate comfort item is laying in your dirty laundry basket… Yep!

So long as your Berner doesn’t have a tendency to rip things to shreds, giving him an unwashed t-shirt of yours will go a long way!

A dog’s sense of smell can be 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than ours. And the smell of you on an old unwashed t-shirt will keep him feeling calm, relaxed and it can even “trick” him into thinking you’re still in the house.

As long as your Berner doesn’t shred things, this is a valuable tip that will instantly help.

2. Create a dedicated space for your Berner

Creating a dedicated space will help your Berner feel more secure and comfortable while left alone.

This area can include his crate, toys, a comforter, a water bowl, and blankets. Create the ideal den, and your Berner will feel better for longer.

The environment plays a big part in how a dog feels, so ideally this area should be in a room where there is the least outside noises and distractions.

People walking past, cars driving by and other animals can all cause extra anxiety that your Berner doesn’t need while alone.

3. Leave the radio, TV or a recording of your voice left playing

We just mentioned outside noises, and it’s a big factor. So leaving the radio or TV turned on is a good tactic. It will help drown out outside noises, allowing him to settle and relax.

The ultimate version of this, (if you have the necessary equipment) is to record yourself having a generic conversation (with yourself) and leave it playing on repeat.

This is a very powerful technique used to cure separation anxiety. If the voice recording is left playing from another room, most dogs will think you are still inside the house, even though you are not.

4. Exercise before you leave

Exercising your Berner before you leave them alone is very important and should be done regardless of what time you leave for work.

If your Berner has all of his energy pent up it will naturally lead to frustration much more quickly, than if he has already had a good workout.

A well-exercised dog will happily lay down and sleep for a surprising amount of time. This works in your favor when you’re out of the house for hours.

5. Provide interactive toys

Interactive toys or otherwise known as puzzle toys are toys that involve your dog solving a challenge, usually in order to unlock a treat.

These toys are awesome and every dog should have at least one interactive toy. Not only do they provide valuable mental stimulation which will help prevent boredom and frustration, but they’re also great time consumers!

The Star-Mark Bob-A-Lot is a basic interactive toy that can also act as a slow feeder. You insert small, dry treats or even kibble, and when your dog rolls the toy in the correct position, treats fall out of the hatch. This particular toy has thousands of 5-star reviews, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Handing your Berner a treat-filled toy before you leave will keep him occupied for quite a long time.

6. Two-way pet camera with audio

If you like gadgets, this will definitely be for you!

Two-way pet cameras allow you to see your dog at home in real-time, and with the help of a monitor and speaker, you can directly speak through your phone to get your dog’s attention.

Your dog will see you and hear you, and this usually gets a very positive response.

There’s great value in being able to instantly view your dog from your smartphone. In just a few seconds you can see how he’s holding up, maybe he’s resting peacefully, or you catch him destroying your couch.

You’ll know whether he needs help, or if he’s fine for the time being.

You can a good pet camera with two-way audio from Amazon. This one is reasonably priced with excellent reviews.

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What To Do When You Work Long Hours Or Go On Vacation?

Having to go to work for the entire day is probably what you lead to this article. So let’s address that issue head-on.

The first thing to try is to get flexible hours. I know this is very work-dependant and for some people, this instantly isn’t an option.

Even if you think it’s impossible, it’s worth a try, maybe your boss will allow you to take lunch at home. Securing even just 30 minutes to spend at home will break up the time your Berner is alone.

Not an option?
Ask friends or family to go over to your house to let your Berner out in the yard, talk to them, play with them or even better, go out for some exercise. It’s a bit of a long shot getting one family member to do this every day, so try contacting multiple friends and family members to help.

Still not possible?
If friends or family members are not able to help, you can hire a dog sitter and/or dog walker to fill in while you’re gone.

You may instantly be thinking “no way” but before you rule it out, think about how your Berner would feel about it. Berners are naturally friendly, and this is the ideal way to break up the time spent alone. Because leaving our dogs home alone is such a huge problem, this service is readily available. A simple Google search will bring up many legitimate businesses in your area, all with reviews.

What about vacations?
Instead of going on a vacation where you can’t bring your Berner, opt for a “bernacation” instead. This means taking a short road trip so that you can bring him along with you. But if you’re traveling abroad or using a plane, have your Berner live at a friend or family member’s house while you are gone.

I would honestly avoid kennels completely, as this can be quite a distressing experience for many dogs, which can lead to a range of behavior issues afterward.

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag |

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Final Thoughts

Bernese Mountain Dogs shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time and can have many unwanted side effects in the long run.

It’s a good idea to find out your Berner’s personal tolerance then you’ll be able to make special arrangements before he starts to get uncomfortable.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.