Staffordshire Bull Terriers are one of the most people oriented breeds on the planet. The Staffy prefers the company of their family, and people in general, more than anything else. I know, I have had a Staffy for over 10 years, and she loves her humans.
Can you leave a Staffy alone? As a general rule a Staffy can be left alone for varying amounts of time depending on their age. Though Staffies would much rather be spending time around their people, a well balanced Staffy can manage being left alone during the day. An unbalanced Staffy will however have troubles.
When I first brought my Staffy puppy home she hated being left alone. In fact she didn’t even like it when I would leave the room without her. Now she is a very well balanced dog, that might still give off a bit of a sigh when she knows I am leaving the house, but is otherwise content to spend a few hours alone.
I have picked up a few tips and tricks to help with an anxious Staffy. My years with my girl Ruby have taught me a number of things that will keep her happy, and balanced while I am away from home. Keep reading to learn a few tricks on leaving your Staffy alone, without the anxious behavior.
Can You Leave A Staffy Alone?
For a Staffordshire Bull Terrier being around their owner is the ultimate level of contentment. This is in the Staffy’s DNA as a breed. They love people, and want to be right next to their human every moment of the day.
Unfortunately we all have lives outside the home that require us to leave our Staffy alone at times. Running errands, heading out to work, or enjoying a dinner out with friends all take us away from home for at least a couple hours most days.
To a well balanced Staffy these times alone at home are fine. They know you will return, and that they are safe in their home. So long as all of their needs are being met that is. Proper training, exercise, and desensitization to your absence are needed to create this well balanced dog.
As I mentioned earlier, my Staffy hated being left alone at first. It took me a few weeks to figure out what I could be doing to help her not become so anxious when I would leave even for 10 minutes. Once I started to apply some of the tips and tricks I learned, her anxious behavior slowly disappeared.
Learning why your Staffy might be anxious when you leave them alone is crucial to fixing any problems. Once you are able to understand their anxious state, you can better apply these tips.
Are Staffies Prone To Separation Anxiety?
Staffies are prone to separation anxiety due to their attachment to people, especially their family. All dogs can experience separation anxiety, but the Staffy is far more likely to experience this type of anxiety.
How Do You Calm An Anxious Staffy?
These are some of the tips and tricks I learned over the first few months of my Staffy’s life. These all helped me better meet her needs, as well as train her to feel calm and content when alone.
Exercise For An Anxious Staffy
Giving a Staffordshire Bull Terrier the necessary amount of exercise each day is important. The Staffy is a very high energy breed of dog and requires at least 1-1.5 hours of good solid exercise each and every day.
A Staffy that is not getting the exercise they require will begin to feel pent up, and this extra energy will manifest in other unwanted behaviours. Anxiety, stress, and aggressive or destructive behaviors are all signs of under exercised Staffies.
Tip #1 – Exercise your Staffy before you leave them alone for any extended period of time.
To help calm an anxious Staffy first and foremost give them their daily exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog I always say. This becomes particularly important if you have a Staffy with some separation anxiety.
When you know you will be leaving your Staffy alone for a few hours, give them some exercise beforehand. This extra release of energy for them will make all the difference in their anxiety level when you are gone.
A good 20-30 minute walk, followed by some calm obedience training can provide your Staffy will enough physical and mental exercise to keep them content for a few hours. I would walk my Staffy every morning before I left for work and this made a huge difference.
Tip #2 – Basic obedience training, or mental stimulation can drain a lot of energy, leaving you with a calm, content dog.
When I would return home at lunchtime to check in on her I could tell she had been just snoozing the morning away. Unlike before where I could tell she had been anxious.
This technique of exercise before leaving the home paired with some training techniques eventually made all of her separation anxiety disappear.
Training For An Anxious Staffy
I know you might be scratching your head right about now. Training a dog not to be anxious? How can you train a Staffy not to be anxious? I thought the same thing, but stick with me this will all make sense.
One of the first training techniques is crate training. Giving your Staffy their own safe, comfortable place to be while you’re away from home works brilliantly. Crate training my Staffy was one of the better decisions I made early on in her puppy years.
Dogs are den animals, and feel safe in smaller, covered spaces like a crate. When your puppy or adult Staffy has full access to your home, they may feel as though they are tasked to watch over the whole space. A big job for a dog. This alone can cause anxious behavior.
Tip #3 – Crates are an excellent place for dogs to relax when you leave them alone.
Get yourself a good crate and introduce your Staffy to it slowly and patiently. You do not want to force your dog to get inside their crate, you want them to want to go in their crate. These are a few steps I used to crate train my Staffy.
- Invite them into the crate with a treat
- Once inside the crate reward them with a treat, then invite them out
- Repeat this a bunch of times.
- Next invite them in the crate and gently close the crate door. Reward them if they are calm inside the crate.
- When they are calm, gently open the door and invite them out.
- Repeat this a bunch of times
- Next invite them in the crate, close the door, and leave the room for 1 minute.
- When they are calm, return to their crate, open the door gently, reward, and invite them out.
- Repeat and gradually increase the time you leave the room.
Tip #4 – Practice crate training with gradual time increases and reward calm behavior
This might take a little practice, and they may not take to it right away. Be patient, and always reward calmness inside their crate. You are aiming to create a positive connection with their crate.
My Staffy kicked up a stink the first few times I left the room for a couple minutes. I just patiently waited until she settled down, rewarded her calmness, and repeated until she never fussed again. Trust me, practice and patience will go a long way.
Tip #5 – Make your Staffy’s crate a comfortable, relaxing environment they want to be in.
Make sure you have nice comfortable blankets, maybe a chew toy or two that won’t get destroyed while you are away. Heck I even had a small radio I placed next to my Staffy’s crate that played calming music. Whatever works to create a comfortable, inviting environment for your dog.
Tip #6 – Never use a crate as punishment
Never use the crate as punishment! This will undo everything you are trying to accomplish. The crate is a place of comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment for you Staffy, not a place of fear, and anxiety.
Make sure you get a properly sized crate for your Staffy. One they can comfortably stand up and turn around in, but not so big that they can take several steps in a row. Cozy and not confining.
I recommend something like the iCrate that allows you to adjust the size of your crate as your Staffy grows from puppy to adult. These are top quality and really affordable. They also easily fold up for storage. Grab an iCrate over on Amazon.
The next training technique that was a game changer for me was desensitization training. We already touched on this a bit with the crate training, but I’ll explain a little further here.
Tip #7 – Make leaving your Staffy alone a non-event. Do not excite your dog before you leave them alone.
Making coming and going from your home a non-event for your dog is key to keeping them calm. You can leave your Staffy alone very easily when they are not triggered by the event itself. Calmly leaving, and calmly returning can desensitize them to the whole event.
Much like crate training you can practice this in small increments of time and gradually increase the duration. The important part is making this a non event. Do not get your dog excited before you leave the home.
This means no “Mommy’s gonna miss you! Be a good boy!” or any games or play time activities. This kind of behavior for you is affectionate, but for your Staffy it creates excitement and that is the state you will leave them alone with. A major trigger for separation anxiety.
Practice, Repeat, Practice
Simply leave the house while ignoring your Staffy. Wait outside the door for a minute or two. Return back to the house in a calm state. Again no excited behaviors like “Daddy missed you so much!” Just walk in like nothing happened.
Repeat this and increase the time outside the door each time. Walk to the mailbox or around the block even. Practice and repeat. Eventually your Staffy will learn that not only is you leaving them alone no big deal, but you will return eventually, and there is nothing to get excited about.
I did this technique with my Staffy when I wanted to give her the option of staying in an open door crate when she was about 9 months old. She could always go to her crate when I left, or snooze on the couch. But I used this technique in the very beginning to get her used to the idea. It worked like a charm.
Distractions For An Anxious Staffy
When you leave a Staffy alone for long or short periods of time they will look for ways to cope with any anxiety they have. Even if they have been well exercised, crate trained, and desensitized to you leaving the house, there may still be a little anxiety.
Providing your Staffy with a few distractions can both help with their anxious behavior, and prevent negative behaviors. Things like chew toys are a perfect distraction for a bored or anxious Staffy home alone.
Tip #8 – Chew toys are a great self soothing technique your dog can use when home alone.
Keep Them Busy
Dogs chew for a few reasons. One of which is to relieve anxiety. It is a very natural behavior for dogs to chew in order to relieve their anxiety. Giving your dog a good variety of chew toys can distract them and provide them with a self soothing technique for any anxiety or feelings of boredom and frustration.
Staffies are known to be bigger chewers in general, and over the years I have found some of the best chew toys available. The chew toys I recommend on my resource page are all tough, durable, and delicious toys your Staffy will love and keep them entertained while you are away from home.
Turn On The TV or Radio
One thing I used to do with my Staffy is leave calming music on when I left her alone during the day. I didn’t conduct a precise scientific study, but I did find her to be much more content when she wasn’t left in silence all day. She seemed much more rested and relaxed when I returned home.
Tip #9 – Music and Television can reduce stress, and provide a calming environment for your Staffy when home alone.
There have been scientific studies conducted however that shows positive results with music in shelter dogs. The shelter dogs were more likely to lay down, and have a lower heart rate variability, demonstrating a decrease in stress levels.
Specifically designed television programs have been developed for dogs in recent years. DogTV was scientifically programmed to provide your dog with a happier and more relaxed environment to keep them company during the day.
DogTV was developed to reduce stress and anxiety, provide sights and sounds your dog will love, and enrich your dog’s well-being and quality of life. To learn more about DogTV head over to their website.
Supplementation For An Anxious Staffy
Supplementation can have a positive effect for a Staffy with anxiety. When you have given your Staffy some exercise, training, and distractions, but still need a little help, some natural supplementation can aid your anxious dog.
There are a variety of chews and treats available to help naturally calm and relax your Staffy when you leave them alone. Products like PetHonesty premium hemp chews use ingredients like chamomile, melatonin and valerian root in their delicious chew formula.
They are a non-sedative way to calm and relieve your Staffy’s stress naturally. PetHonesty is a great company that offers terrific products, fast shipping and money back guarantees. Learn more about their products on PetHonesty.com
Tip #10 – Natural supplements such as calming chews and CBD oil can be a great non-sedative solution to aid with anxiety.
CBD Oil has been something I have recently begun using as a supplement for my Staffy now that she is entering her senior years. This helps with any joint pains she may be experiencing, but is also a fantastic non-sedative calming supplement.
I have been looking at CBD oils for a number of years now, and am convinced they are a great non-medical, natural way of treating anxiety, among other ailments. For a Staffy with separation anxiety CBD oil could be a great supplement option to explore.
My resource page The Best CBD Oil For Dogs covers the topic of CBD oil and provides you with the best companies around. These companies are all lab tested, third party verified, and respectable companies with your dogs welfare at the forefront of their business.
How Long Can You Leave A Staffy Alone?
You can leave your Staffy alone from anywhere between 2 hours up to 8 hours depending on their age. When you are using a crate for your Staffy it is recommended to never leave them in there for more than 3-4 hours at a time.
Give your dog a break from a crate every 3-4 hours. They may be comfortable and feel content in their crate, but they will need to stretch their legs, move around a bit, get some water, and have a pee break most likely.
When you leave a Staffy alone out of a crate they can manage up to 8 hours if they are full grown adults. By the 8 hour mark they will need to go potty, so it is recommended to not exceed 8 hours.
Rule Of Thumb
A general rule of thumb for puppies, is that they can be left alone for 1 hour per age in months. Therefore a 2 month old puppy should not be left alone for more than 2 hours. They have tiny bladders and will need to go to the bathroom within 2 hours at that age.
This rule of thumb applies up to the age of 8 months, when your puppy is fully potty trained and able to make it through the day. That is the general cutoff for the 1hour/age in months rule. As mentioned 8 hours is the longest a Staffy should be left alone.
Though an adult Staffy, or even an older puppy can be left alone for a fair chunk of time, it’s worth considering hiring a dog walker. Maybe even asking a friend or family member to get them outside for a walk and pee.
Staffies need plenty of exercise and being home alone all day is no fun. Giving them a break in the middle of a long day home alone can greatly benefit their wellbeing.
Raising a well balanced Staffy is important for their well being as a family pet. I know I’d rather take my Staffordshire Bull Terrier with me everywhere I go if I could. Unfortunately I can’t, so ensuring I can leave my Staffy alone comfortably was a priority.
Taking the time to make sure your Staffy is getting a good amount of exercise, training, and distractions can make alone time easier to manage. The tips I talk about in this post are all things I have used personally, and have recommended with great success to others.
Set your Staffy up for success and follow these tips to keep them calm, comfortable and content when you have to leave them alone during the day.