How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?

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When you bring home a new puppy, you can’t expect him to last more than an hour or two before he needs to go out. As your puppy gets older, he learns how to control his bladder and, eventually, he’ll be able to make it through the whole night. Bladder control is only one aspect of being able to leave a dog alone. You also need to think about your dog’s need for human interaction, attention, and exercise.

If you work long hours and don’t spend a lot of time at home, your dog probably won’t be happy. How do you know what’s an appropriate length of time to leave your dog alone? Keep reading to find out.

Related: How To Spot True Separation Anxiety in Your Dog

You are not a bad dog owner if you leave your dog at home when you go to work. We all have obligations that take us away from home and, most of the time, we can’t take our dogs with us. But just how long is it okay to leave your dog alone at home?

The answer to this question depends largely on your dog’s age. Puppies under 10 weeks of age shouldn’t be left alone for more than an hour because they physically cannot control their bladders. After two to three months, puppies can last about two hours and puppies four months old can last four hours. After your dog hits a year old, it’s generally okay to leave him for six hours at a time.

Related: Dog Anxiety Treatment: 6 Ways to Treat It

As long as your dog can handle six hours alone with no problems, you can usually work your way up to 8 hours. It is better, of course, if you can send in a dog walker or friend to check in your dog during the day and to give him some play time and interaction, but this isn’t always possible. The important thing is that you do your best not to leave your dog alone for extended periods of time as much as possible.

You have to work to earn a living and, for most people, that means leaving the house for extended periods of time. You shouldn’t feel too guilty about leaving your dog because, after all, your job is what helps you provide for his needs. You should, however, make sure that your dog gets the attention and exercise he needs when you are at home. You can also take certain steps to keep your dog from feeling bored or anxious while you’re away.

Here are some tips for keeping your dog busy when he’s home alone:

  • Make sure to give your dog a walk and some play time before you leave – this will tire him out and prevent him from becoming immediately frustrated when you leave.
  • Have a dog walker or friend check on your dog halfway through the day, even if it’s only for a few minutes – this is important if you have a younger dog or one who experiences anxiety.
  • Leave your dog with a puzzle toy or interactive toy to keep him busy for a while and to give him some mental stimulation to tire him out.
  • Find a particularly special toy that your dog really loves and only give it to him when you leave the house for an extended period of time.
  • Consider buying a pet camera that allows you to interact with your pet via mobile device – some pet cameras even let you talk to your dog and throw treats to him.
  • Think about getting a second dog so they can keep each other company – be smart with this decision, of course, because two dogs is twice the responsibility of one dog.
  • Avoid crating your dog while at work if possible – instead, create an enclosed space where he’ll be safe but still has room to move around.

Some dogs simply do not handle being left lone well. If your dog becomes very anxious and destructive, he could have separation anxiety. Talk to your vet about your concerns and consider speaking to a pet behavior specialist to work with your dog in reducing his anxiety.