Pet parents would like to spend all their time with their dogs, but it’s not always possible. Having a dog means having a schedule. You arrange work hours, social outings, and errands to be home in time. It’s inevitable that at some stage you’ll need to leave your dog alone.
Dogs are incredibly attached to their humans; we are their world and they show it in every possible way. Our unique bond with dogs is time-tested and as trusted as it gets. The simple creatures that they are ― they love us, and we love them back. This love makes it even hard to leave a dog waiting at home.
Can dogs be left alone for a full day? Will they need to be let out to use the bathroom? Here’s how long you can leave a dog alone and tips for making your dog’s home alone time safe, fun, and enriching.
Can you leave a dog alone? How long is too long?
Dogs are social animals who crave company, so leaving them at home alone isn’t ideal. They’re adaptable creatures, though, so you can trust them to be okay while you’re away for a relatively short length of time. Still, it’s always a good idea to check in on your dog or give them a call during your trip or workday.
Puppies need to relieve themselves more frequently than older dogs, and each dog has different timing for potty breaks. How long can a dog hold it before needing to go? If your dog is home alone, you may be wondering how long they can last without a bathroom break. Potty breaks typically should happen three to five times a day.
Here are common time limits for dogs of different life stages:
- Puppies: On average, you must take the pups out to relieve themselves once every 2-3 hours
- Adult dogs (over 18 months): once every 6-8 hours
- Senior dogs (age 8 and above): depending on their breed and health, anywhere between 2-6 hours
Dogs have different needs for alone time, depending on the breed. All dogs need quality time ― exercise, puzzle toys, etc. throughout the day to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Play time also leads to mental stimulation in dogs.
How to help improve your dog’s alone time?
If you want your dog to be less lonely when you go out, try some of these tips before you leave:
- Exercise: Take your pets for a walk or a run so they’ll be tired when you go. Use food-dispensing toys so they don’t get anxious.
- If you have to go away from your pet for a long period, you can consider hiring a dog walker, pet sitter, Doggie day-care, kennels, or even a pet hotel to ensure that your pet is well cared for in your absence.
- Mental stimulation: A dog needs mental stimulation just like it needs physical exercise, sleep, and healthy food. Dogs who are getting adequate mental stimulation are more likely to be happy, well-behaved dogs. Puppies and young dogs need more mental stimulation than older dogs.
- Bladder breaks: Adult dogs usually require a break every 4 to 6 hours a day. Some can handle being left alone for up to nine hours, but most dogs would not be able to sleep for that long without needing to relieve themselves. Generally, you should never leave a dog crated for more than an hour or two at a time unless you absolutely have to.
- Music: Many pet parents leave the TV or music on when they go out for short durations to keep their dogs engaged. Podcasts can help too.
Try teaching your puppy that being home alone is not a big deal. Otherwise, they might develop separation anxiety.
See also: Best pet-friendly offices
As social creatures, dogs need plenty of interaction and companionship to live happy, healthy lives. No matter how well-adjusted, dogs may become distressed if they spend too much time without human companionship. Dealing with separation anxiety is an important step in ensuring that your dog is as happy as can be. In particular, hiring a dog-walker or dropping your pup off at daycare are excellent ways to ensure that your dog has plenty of playmates and supervision.
When you get a new dog, you’re making a long-term commitment. Be sure you have the time to dedicate to your new pet. Having a busy life and owning a pet is doable, you just have to get creative to make sure their needs are met.