In a bustling world, we often wonder if we can leave our pets alone. For those who work, the concern is pressing because we may be talking about leaving the dog or cat at home by themselves for most of the day.
Are some dog breeds more prone than others to separation anxiety? Should you be concerned about a dog that seems to like to be left alone like the Chow? And finally, can Chow Chows be left alone for long periods?
A Chow Chow is one of the few breeds you can leave alone for significant periods. Independent and with many cat-like personality traits, Chows seem comfortable with their own company.
Dogs that fail to connect with their families do not seem outwardly depressed or become overtly destructive.
However, you should not make a habit of leaving your Chow alone for extended periods if you want a healthy bond with your dog and a chance at a socially balanced pet.
A Chow Chow needs to respect and admire you
There are many breeds in which respect for their owners is crucial.
If a German Shepherd does not respect you, she will become untrainable. When an Akita or Great Pyrenees does not look up to you, he will probably ignore your commands and wishes completely.
You can still have a meaningful relationship with these dogs, albeit chaotic and perhaps unsatisfactory if not dangerous.
If you do not gain the admiration of your Chow, there is a strong possibility she will simply disengage from you.
The fact that Chows do not seem to need human interaction makes establishing a connection or bond a challenge.
Therefore, your question should never be, “Can Chow Chows be left alone?” The more pertinent argument is whether a Chow should be left alone.
If you want your dog to be a great household pet, you will need to work at establishing trust and mutual respect with your dog, whether a puppy or an adult.
If you hire a professional trainer or behaviorist, the first thing you will notice them do is to try to establish a rapport with your dog. It is crucial if you want your Chow to prefer your company over being alone.
You cannot establish a bond with a dog such as a Chow if you leave it alone for several hours every day or if you just let him live outside away from the family. Moreover, you must have a few leadership skills in place to win your Chow’s respect.
- Self-assuredness or assertiveness
- Ability to be firm without being harsh or violent
- Always in control of your emotions – endless patience, do not lose your temper
- Combination of small corrections and generous rewards – positive reinforcement
- Spend lots of quality time with your dog – does not include being in the same room with your Chow and ignoring her
Isolation will teach your Chow Chow to be antisocial
Most Chows do not have a natural inclination to be social or gracious.
If you leave your Chow Chow alone all the time, you will exacerbate antisocial behaviors. Your dog will not only display hostility to strangers and other animals but may also begin to turn against you or your family members.
- Avoidance of contact – moves away from you instead of towards you
- Aggression – snarling, growling, or snapping; unprovoked attacks
- Chasing unfamiliar dogs, cats, and children
- Lunging, charging, and other behaviors that indicate underlying fear or hostility
- Guarding food, bedding, possessions, and the area around them
Leaving your Chow Chow alone overcomplicates training
When you acquire a Chow Chow, you should know upfront that the breed is among the least trainable dogs.
It ranks right above Bulldogs at No. 138 of 141, according to Business Insider who presents a study result by renowned canine behaviorist Stanley Coren.
While Chows may very well be smart, their willingness to please their owners is low. They are generally independent and stubborn, traits carried down from generations of primitive working dogs.
Not only is the Chow an ancient breed but it is basal, only branching from wolves a few times before domestication. Two or three thousand years ago, dogs were selected for specific characteristics to accomplish a handler’s goals on the farm or during a hunt.
Owners relied on the Chow’s instincts that they enhanced through breeding. Thus, Chows did not require much training, especially in obedience. Primitive behavioral and cognitive traits persist in the breed.
When you leave your Chow Chow alone, you carry on a tradition that she should fend and think for herself.
She has neither the incentive to look to you for direction nor to care about your wishes. If you feed her, then she might instinctually guard your property.
You need to establish consistent contact to influence your dog to consider tasks that go beyond what he wants to do.
Persistence and endless patience are still crucial in training your Chow but including him in the family will help make him more attuned to your wishes.
An unsocialized Chow Chow can be a nightmare
You may think about your Chow and wonder how social anyone could expect her to be.
Although Chows are not always naturally social butterflies, this characteristic gives you more of a responsibility to instill proper etiquette in your dog. While some Chows are laidback and friendly, yours most likely will never accept any show of affection from your guests.
However, you only need her to be composed and civil, so she does not bite or attack everyone who comes near her.
Your alternatives are to leave your dog alone much of the time and lock her up when you entertain or to never host any events at your home. Your unsocialized Chow Chow can easily become a menace and a liability.
Socialization must start when your Chow is a very young pup and continue throughout your dog’s life.
Since being around people may not seem natural to your dog, regular social outings should be ongoing.
Chows can learn to be civil and pleasant in many situations that will make it easier to manage their needs.
- Veterinary visits – many Chows can be fractious if not outright vicious; accustom your dog to a muzzle and use it in public places if necessary; socialize your dog at a very young age to having her feet, mouth, and ears handled and inspected
- Groomer – interestingly, Chows often have good relationships with their professional groomer; this might be the only person outside the family that your Chow allows to touch her
- Nail trims
- Puppy classes – can help introduce your Chow to be social with unfamiliar people and dogs
- Boarding – if you must kennel your Chow for whatever reason, she needs to be social enough for staff to handle her
- Pet sitting – introduce your dog to a pet sitter before your planned trip; however, know your dog because if she is too territorial, pet sitting may not be a viable option
Conditions in which Chow Chows Cannot be Left Alone
There are situations whereby you should never leave your Chow Chow alone.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Because of their shortened muzzles, Chows do not fare well in the heat. If you shave them and remove the dual insulating properties of their coats, you worsen the risk of heatstroke. Dogs with body clips also have an increased vulnerability to sunburns.
Once temperatures start approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to bring your Chow indoors.
Acclimated dogs with full coats may withstand outdoor life with plenty of shade, fans, surfaces that do not retain heat, climate-controlled doghouses, and cooling mats.
Despite your Chow’s extensive double coat, his short snout makes him less tolerant of frigid conditions than you would initially think. You cannot leave a Chow unattended for extensive periods in below-freezing temperatures.
Some Chow Chows become acclimated to the cold and can do ok with shelter from the wind and a doghouse that allows them to breathe warmer air.
Deep Pools of Water
Unless you know your Chow has a pronounced aversion to water, do not leave him alone near a lake or a swimming pool.
Chows are not proficient swimmers because of their straight limbs and shortened muzzles. Moreover, their coats are not waterproof. Their fur can become waterlogged, resulting in too much weight for an inefficient swimmer.
Most Chows instinctively avoid water, but a few are adventurous, and others could fall in.
You should not leave your Chow alone if she struggles to get up and lie down. Chows suffer multiple health issues that can leave them helpless, especially senior dogs.
- Recovering from surgery
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- Luxating patellas
- Ligament injuries – torn CCL (ACL), cranial (anterior) cruciate ligament
- Blindness from cataracts or glaucoma
- IVDD – a slipped disc is not common in Chows but can occur in any breed and may greatly affect mobility; seen in older Chow Chows
- Degenerative myelopathy – progressive neurologic degeneration; chows carry the gene for DM, and affected dogs will eventually become paralyzed
Dogs recovering from illnesses or injuries mend faster if they do not also have to expend energy dealing with the outside elements.
Even when you bring your dog indoors because she has mobility issues, you should not leave her alone.
Arthritis patients may benefit from regular therapeutic exercise. You may also have to check your dog periodically and reposition her or adjust cushioning to prevent the development of sores.
Painful and ill dogs need to be warm and dry.
In some respects, summer is much worse than winter for a Chow with mobility issues. Not only is your arthritic or dysplastic Chow Susceptible to heatstroke because he cannot move out of the sun, but he can become a victim of a host of other problems.
- Matting and soiling
- Flystrike from soiling – flies lay eggs on soiled or matted hair or skin sores; maggots can be devastating to dogs, both painful and destructive to the underlying tissue
- Fly-bitten ears and nose
- Sores and skin infections
Can Chow Chows be left alone?
The answer for most young and healthy dogs in a climate-controlled or mild environment is yes. However, the question of whether you should leave your Chow alone all the time becomes more pertinent. It begs several other queries.
- Do you want a bond with your Chow Chow?
- Does the fact that your Chow seems to prefer to be left alone say something about your relationship or your handling of her socialization?
- Do Chows not mind being alone psychologically, or are they more stoic than other breeds? If you have a dog, how do you show your love and commitment?
- Is your Chow Chow going to become a liability because you never accustomed her to people?
- Can your dog receive reasonable care at a veterinarian’s office without risky anesthesia?
- Can your Chow go to a groomer? Can you brush her?
- Do you want a pet or a solitary and territorial animal that acts like something between a wild wolf and a semi-feral dog?
At the Groomer’s
This video shows a well-mannered Chow Chow and a great deal of mutual respect between the dog and the groomer.
This Chow appears to have been well-socialized at home with constant human contact and looks like she would not think of biting her groomer. At the end of the day, this Chow will have a neat but intact coat.
It is unclear, but these two probably grew up together. The Chow has grown to recognize the value of the cat in the family. This is not a dog that is left alone and proves Chows can be both social and trained.
Human Animal Bond
This Chow shows the effects of a broken human bond, negligence, and being abandoned after already enjoying life as a family pet. Mistrust makes the dog aggressive in a defensive way.
Note the matting around his neck, likely a source of pain. This video shows why aggression in Chow Chows can become a dangerous liability and yet also reveals the forgiving nature of dogs.
Despite the breed’s primitive ancestry, this dog appears open to rehabilitation and reestablishing a bond with people.
He has already struck up a friendship with another dog, emphasizing Chows can be difficult but are neither untrainable nor impossible to socialize.