As pet parents with busy schedules, it is undeniable that we feel unnerved every time we leave our pets at home while we’re at work, but how long can dogs be left alone? As much as we would love our furbaby to be with us all the time, unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially when we are going to work, social functions, and short or long trips.
When leaving them alone at home, we get concerned about our furbaby’s safety and well-being. Not only that, we worry that our pets will make a mess due to anxiety. We do not want to go home with destroyed furniture, shoes, and waste all over our home.
One of the most asked questions by pet parents is, “How long can we leave our dog alone?”. We always wonder whether it’s okay to leave our dog on their own for a specific amount of time. In this article, we will provide the ultimate guide to you on how you can leave your dog alone and how to make the separation easier.
1. Going Back With The Basics
Generally speaking, there is no rule on how long you can leave your dog alone. However, keep in mind that multiple factors will determine how long is too long. These factors are a pet’s breed, age, health condition, and if he has separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety occurs whenever dogs are left alone without human interaction, even seeing their pet parent, for quite some time. This is very common among dogs that usually stays at home while their owners are at work. Depending on the severeness of the anxiety, your dog might be okay with you going out for a short time, or in some worse cases, you might not be able to leave them alone without causing immense stress to your furbaby.
Dogs are different in their ways as some can manage to be alone better than others. But as a rule of thumb, it is not advisable to leave them alone for an extended period. As a universal guide, these are the desirable duration to leave your dogs alone:
- Don’t leave your puppy alone for over 2 hours a day. They are in a sensitive phase, and it is essential to give them company and attention while they are growing up. Leaving them alone this early can develop severe separation anxiety.
- Once a dog is over 18 months old, they can be left alone between 4 to 6 hours a day. As long as they are potty-trained and have physical activities keeping them busy, such as chew toys, they can be left longer. Dogs this age usually spend their time sleeping on their own while patiently waiting for your return.
- Older dogs can be left alone for up to 6 hours a day, keeping in mind their health conditions and anxiety problems. House-trained dogs are more used to being left alone at home, as long as their basic necessities, such as food, water, toys, and potty area are easily accessible even without guidance from their pet parents.
2. Low-Maintenance Dog Breeds
If you are going to adopt a dog and you know that you will frequently be away from home, it is essential to choose the ideal breed for you. Some dog breeds are more independent and are more capable of being alone for a longer duration. Dog breeds who need more attention and socialization are more prone to developing separation anxiety and behavioral issues.
If you are residing in an apartment complex, or near other houses, it is essential to consider that certain breeds will bark at the slightest sound they hear, and this can bother your neighbors.
Some dog breeds are more dependent than others, and are perfect to get as they can manage themselves alone:
- Basset Hound
- French Bulldog
- Bull terrier
- Chow Chow
- Akita Inu
- Boston Terrier
These dog breeds can be left alone for as long as eight hours since they are intelligent, can be easily trained, and have their own will to entertain themselves. Dogs with this kind of demeanor are usually eager learners and independent, which means they do not need constant company from their owner throughout the day.
3. House-training Your Dog to Be Alone
Start house-training your puppies while they are still young as they are more eager and more attentive since they still have fresh minds. One way to eliminate separation anxiety that being alone is nothing to be scared of and they are always safe and secured even if you are not around to supervise them/
A training method that can help you is by practicing to leave your house for a short time then coming back shortly. Using this method, they will learn that being alone is reasonable, and they will have the assurance that you will always come back. It will also avoid developing negative behaviors if they are left alone.
To easily do this method, for the first few sessions leave your home for a minute and go back immediately. As the sessions go by, increase the time you leave them alone and, at the same time, check to see if they are comfortable and at ease and will not start barking.
Initiate positive reinforcement by giving them a treat when you are about to leave, but never when you return. It is also important to avoid making a lot of noise while leaving your house, as your dog can sense that you will be leaving them and can get upset.
4. Consistency is Key
Similar to humans, having a routine schedule makes our dog’s daily life easier to manage. It is vital that your furbaby has a regular scheduled mealtime, exercise, playtime, nap, and sleep time. Keeping a consistent routine will help your dog feel more confident and secured. Additionally, our furbaby will benefit from this by molding their well-being and behavior.
Dogs are known to be an animal of habits. They can sense what time it is and know what to expect for the rest of the day, making him less restless and anxious.
By having a consistent schedule, our furbaby can manage the time better when they are alone. They can efficiently distribute their energy for the day. They are most likely to spend their time resting and napping instead of roaming around and using up their energy manifesting destructive behaviors.
5. Routine Exercise
It is advisable to give your dog an exercise session before leaving home. When you take them out for a walk or provide them with daily exercise, they will most likely spend their time taking a rest and sleeping, avoiding any destructive behaviors.
Giving your dog daily physical and mental activity that drains his energy will help in preventing behavioral problems. If they still have a vast amount of energy at the start of their day, they will find creative ways to become busy and use up this energy, which is usually destructive behaviors.
Dogs not having enough physical and mental exercise can significantly affect their behavior. Excess energy can build up into frustration and anxiety that can become hyperactivity and constant destructive behavior. Before taking in with any exercise, make sure to ask your vet for consultation if the routine is appropriate.
6. Potty-Training your Furbaby
One of the primary and most prominent challenges that you have to face is potty training or house training your puppy. Some puppies will learn quickly, whereas others will struggle with it for some time.
Potty-training your dog or puppy requires commitment, patience, and consistency. Keep in mind that potty accidents are normal especially during the first few phases of the training.
Adult dogs usually need to pee between three to five times daily. But puppies need pee breaks more frequently. Here are the average time limits for puppies of different ages: (as mentioned before, keep in mind that these vary depending on your puppy/dog breed)
- 8 to 10 weeks: One hour or less. Puppies at this young age simply cannot hold their bladder for more than an hour. It is recommended to start crate training at this age, but you can’t leave a young puppy in a crate for more extended periods.
- 10-12 weeks: Bladder capacity is getting bigger, but 2 hours is still the best time that most puppies can hold it at this age.
- 3-6 months: At this age, start using the “one hour per month rule.” Three months old puppies can wait for three hours, four-month-old puppies for four hours, and so on.
- After six months: An older puppy, similar to most adult dogs, can hold it for up to six hours. If you don’t have a doggy door, be sure to go home at lunch or get your trusted dog walker to pay a visit if you’re unable to do so.
The above estimations can vary depending on your puppy’s size, health, and habits. But any dog enforced to hold their pee for too long is at risk for stones, crystals, or urinary tract infection. Like what we experience, holding the bladder for too long is uncomfortable and can lead to unwanted accidents.
We have an article that will help you in potty training your dog. By reading this step-by-step guide, we can assure you that you and your pet will have a stress-free potty training process.
7. Designate a Comfortable Area
When leaving your dog alone, it is essential to assign a comfortable area where they can spend their time relaxing and sleeping. Depending on your dog’s demeanor, you can either designate the entire house or just assign a limited area where they can stay.
Whatever you choose, it is crucial that you keep in mind that they have access to their necessities, such as bedding, water, food, and toys. You can also leave your old shirt on their bed as a reminder that your presence is still with them. Smelling your scent will make them feel safe and secured.
Don’t forget to dog-proof the assigned area where your furbaby will stay. This can help in preventing your dog from getting hurt and accidentally breaking something. You can do this by not leaving cables and small objects within their reach as these objects are prone to be chewed.
8. Keeping Your Furbaby Entertained
Make sure that your dog has ways to occupy his time. Since no one can interact with them socially, it is crucial that you leave them something they can interact with, such as toys.
Giving them puzzle toys is an excellent way for your furbaby to spend their time on. This kind of toy will not only keep them entertained for a long time but will also help them mentally by stimulating their hand and eye coordination.
Chew toys are another way to keep our pets entertained and will prevent them from chewing things that are lying on the floor, such as cords and shoes.
Aside from toys, you can also entertain your furbaby at home by:
- Leaving your television on
- Allowing your dog to view outside by leaving your window curtains open
- Getting another dog as a companion
- Leave some music playing, preferably classical music, as this genre will make your dog more relaxed. You can check out this youtube video that will perform 15 hours of relaxing music for your dog:
9. Get a Backup Sitter
For a longer duration that you need to leave your furbaby alone, it is recommended that you seek help from a family member or availing services from a professional pet sitter.
If you have chosen to hire a professional pet sitter, it is essential to give instructions to your sitter in advance, so they know what are the habits such as feeding, dog walking, and sleeping schedule, what medications should be administered if any.
With FursnPaws, you don’t have to worry about the attention and care, as I will make sure to give my undivided attention to your pet the whole time, depending on the personality, of course, some pets are more independent and want their own space, so we don’t want to bother them or make them feel uncomfortable!
In addition, I will get in touch with you immediately whenever I arrive at your home and start the visit, I will stay online, sending you videos and photos for updates, and I will inform you about any behavioral change or health issue if any.
You can check FursnPaws testimonials on my Facebook page, website, or Instagram stories. Also, our first meet up plays a significant role, as this is where you will get to know me better, to see me with your pet for the first time, and to decide if you would like to proceed or not. Besides, you can always keep an eye on your pets and your pet sitter by having cameras at your home.
10. Advancements of Modern Technology
Being able to check on our dog even if we’re miles away is a great way to understand better their behavior and how they manage themselves. This will let us know what other matters they need and if there are any other actions required.
A pet camera is a gadget that can be used to monitor our pets online safely. They are devices that are installed in your home that lets you see your furbaby realtime through your phone or a computer. Some pet cameras even have advanced features such as two-way audio communication and a feature that will let you drop treats with just a tap of a button.
11. What to Do When Returning Home?
Once you return home to your furbaby, it is the right time to check up on them and provide them with the attention he deserves after being alone. Even if your dog is potty trained, you can always give them some time in your yard or take them for a walk so they can do their business.
Spend the rest of the day playing with them and socializing with them to make up the time that you are out for the day. With this fun interaction, they will forget that you were not with them for a long time.
Now that you have learned how long can dogs be left alone at home, comment down below if you have any tips that you would like to share with our pet parent community!