Can I leave my dog for 8 hours once?
How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Home Alone?
You don’t have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.
Pets relieve the stress that comes with a full-time job or a busy class schedule. Problem is, most workplaces and schools don’t allow your bundle of joy to accompany you, and it’s not healthy to leave your puppy home alone for too long, either.
How long can you leave your puppy alone? And what should you do if you’re planning to get a puppy but have other obligations? Keep reading to find out.
How long can you leave a puppy home alone?
Before we dig in to how long you can leave your puppy home alone, we need to cover some sleep stuff first. Your puppy’s sleep schedule will affect everything from how often they need to go potty to how long you can leave them home by themselves.
The good news is, puppies sleep a lot. We’re talking up to 20 hours per day! The bad news is, puppies under the age of 16 weeks tend to sleep in short bursts of 30 minutes to 2 hours throughout the day and night.
To make matters slightly more inconvenient, young puppies between 8 and 12 weeks old can only hold their bladders for 1 to 2 hours. So unless your boss is super accommodating, you probably won’t be able to come home to check on your puppy that often.
Knowing all that, how long can you leave your puppy alone? Short answer: it depends on their age, breed, health, temperament, and other factors. To keep your puppy healthy and happy while you’re away, follow this general rule:
- Puppies younger than 6 months: Leave them alone for 2 hours max at a time
- Puppies older than 6 months: Leave them alone for 4 hours max at a time
Puppies can hold their bladder for up to 1 hour for every month of life. For example, a 2-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for up to 2 hours. Larger dogs tend to have bigger bladders and can hold their urine for longer. Health issues can affect how often your pup needs to potty, so keep this in mind as well.
Just because a 6-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for up to 6 hours doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to leave them alone for that long. Their young bodies and brains are still developing, and leaving them alone for too long can lead to behavioral issues and conditions like separation anxiety.
No dog should be left alone for a full 8-hour workday. The only dogs who could potentially deal with your absence for that long are adult dogs (older than 18 months) who are well trained, well behaved, and used to being alone for extended periods. Even then, this situation is far from ideal.
What to do if you work or attend school full-time
Okay, so you can’t leave your puppy home alone for more than a few hours a day. But you also can’t quit your job or your studies just to stay home with your fur-baby. What’s a dog lover to do? Here are a few solutions for puppy parents with full-time obligations.
Book a dog sitter, dog walker, or drop-in session with Wag!
You want your puppy to get used to spending time alone, but you don’t want to ship them off to a kennel every day. With Wag!, you don’t have to! Book a Drop-In session with a Pet Caregiver on the Wag! app to prevent accidents and keep your puppy entertained. Your Pet Caregiver will fill up your pup’s food and water bowls, play with them, and ensure they’re comfy and content.
Need something a little longer than a 20-minute check-in? We recommend booking a dog walker or dog sitter through the Wag! app instead. A dog walker will take Sparky on a 30-minute stroll, while a dog sitter will care for your dog in your home overnight.
No matter which service you book, you can chat with your Pet Caregiver anytime right in the app and even receive photo and video updates!
Ask a trusted friend or family member to help out
It takes a village to raise a fur-child, so don’t be afraid to lean on your loved ones to ensure your puppy is well taken care of. Got a roommate who works different hours, or know a fellow pet parent who lives in the area with a more relaxed schedule? Ask them if they’d be willing to lend a helping paw with pet care.
Create a routine
Dogs are their healthiest and happiest when they have a solid routine with set times for meals, walks, and potty breaks. Start thinking about your pup’s routine before you bring your puppy home.
Once you’ve got your puppy, start implementing their routine as soon as you can. The sooner you start, the quicker they’ll get the hang of it.
Try to walk your dog early in the morning before you leave for work or school. A morning walk will give them a chance to potty and tire them out good and proper — chances are, they won’t even notice you leave! Plus, what better way to start your day than spending some quality time in the great outdoors with your fur-child?
Be smart about crate training
When done correctly, crate training works wonders. Not just for keeping your canine content while you’re away, but also for protecting your shoes, furniture, and everything else puppies love to chew on.
But don’t expect to just place your puppy in a crate, lock the door, and head off to work. This will cause immense stress for your fur-baby and could lead to separation anxiety. It may also sabotage your potty training efforts — young dogs simply can’t hold their bladders for that long, and the notion that puppies won’t potty in their crate is a myth.
You should be present for every training session when you first introduce the crate to your dog. Keep sessions short, and make sure their crate is as cozy and inviting as can be.
Puppies younger than 6 months should never be left in a crate longer than 3 to 4 hours a day (or 2 hours if they’re still potty training).
Need a helping paw with caring for your puppy? Download the Wag! app to book a pet care service, access Wag! Vet Chat, and more!
4 helpful tips for leaving your dog alone and the max time you can leave them, according to vets
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This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas.
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- Puppies can be left alone for about one hour for every month they’ve been alive, plus one hour.
- Adult dogs can be alone for a maximum of eight hours, but every dog is different.
- You can make it easier for your pup to be alone by walking them before you leave the house.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 1 in 5 American households got a new cat or dog. Many were suddenly drawn to pet ownership due to social isolation, which worked out well as people began working from home.
However, some are now returning to offices full-time, which means they’ll likely need to leave their pets alone at home. This major shift can be a big adjustment for pets.
Here’s what dog owners should know about leaving a dog alone at home.
How long can you leave a dog alone?
Puppies require you to be home a lot more often, but adult dogs’ tolerance to being alone is mostly dependent on their personality.
How long your puppy can be left alone is mostly dependent on how long they can go without needing to be let out to poop or pee.
Generally, puppies can hold their bladder for about one hour for every month they’ve been alive, plus one more hour, says Kristi Flynn, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
This means that a four-month-old puppy can be left alone for around five hours before they need to go to the bathroom.
This rule of thumb applies to puppies up to seven months, which means a max of eight hours left alone, Flynn says.
You shouldn’t leave your adult dog alone for more than six to eight hours, because they can’t hold their bladder for much longer.
However, certain dogs may experience emotional distress when their owners are away for even a few hours, while others are very independent and can be alone for much longer if they have a way to relieve themselves on their own, like a doggy door to the yard or pee pads.
Every dog is different, so observe them and take their habits into consideration to gauge how long you can leave them alone. Some indications that your dog is unhappy with how long they’ve been alone are:
- Destructive behavior
Once you know how long your dog is comfortable being left alone, you should honor this time limit. Otherwise, you may come home to a mess, says Liz Stelow, chief of behavior service at the UC Davis William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
«The dog may not have been able to hold its bladder or bowels. It may have panicked, as its emotional tolerance for being left was exceeded. It may have become creative about entertaining itself,» she adds.
Important: Once a dog is considered a senior (age 6-7 and beyond), they might not be able to hold their bladder in for as long as they once could, so adjust as necessary based on your pet, Flynn says.
How to make it easier for your dog to be alone
As long as you are able to meet your pet’s needs, spending some time away is OK, Flynn says.
There are several ways to make your dog feel more comfortable when they’re alone.
1. Determine where your dog is most comfortable.
The location where you leave your dog is important to consider. For maximum comfort, dogs should ideally have access to their favorite spaces or the areas they find safest and most relaxing, Stelow says.
This can be a room with their bed, their crate, or a space with lots of toys so that they can entertain themselves.
If you let them roam in your house, you should «puppy-proof» the house before leaving, she adds. Empty the garbage cans, tidy up the space, and lock certain rooms to keep your dog from getting into anything they’re not supposed to.
2. Walk your dog beforehand.
If you know you’re going to be gone for a while, make sure your dog gets some exercise beforehand. Burning off some energy may keep them more behaved at home.
When you walk your dog, allow them to sniff along the way since it helps tire them out both physically and mentally, Flynn says.
Dogs have varying energy needs, so one dog may be fine with a leisurely stroll while another may require a long, quick-paced walk in addition to playing fetch, she adds.
3. Put some background noise.
Sounds from outside the house — such as delivery trucks or other animals — might be distressing or disturbing for jumpy dogs, so don’t leave your dog in complete silence.
«The dog is more likely to relax during its alone time if it is not startled by outside noises or triggered into territorial barking by passersby,» Stelow says.
Try playing some music or leaving the television or radio turned on to drown outside noises, Flynn says.
4. Keep them entertained.
Giving your dog a special treat right before you leave can occupy them for a while, Flynn says.
A stuffed toy may also help your dog relieve boredom and very mild anxiety when you’re gone, Stelow says.
Puzzle toys, aka food-dispensing toys that require dogs to solve puzzles, will also keep your dog occupied for a while. Make sure to experiment with different toys and puzzles before leaving your dog alone to know which ones they love and enjoy.
Dogs can be safely left alone at home, but how long they’ll remain comfortable generally varies.
You can make it easier for your dog to be alone if you walk them beforehand, play some background noise, and keep them entertained.
Make sure they remain in a location where they feel safe, whether that’s inside a crate or a certain room or area of the house.
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How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?
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Your dog is part of the family. While you may want to spend as much time as possible with your pet, that is not always possible. With responsibilities like work, family, and school, you’re forced to leave your dog at home — and that’s okay. But how do you prepare your puppy to be alone? How long is too long for a puppy to be alone?
We spoke with Mary Janek, Director of Public Training and Instructor of Competition Obedience at the Muncie Obedience Training Club for answers.
Acclimate Your New Puppy to Your Routine
Getting a new puppy is exciting, but it also comes with new responsibilities and changes to your routine. To raise a healthy and happy dog, your puppy will need attention, exercise, and social interaction. In addition, a well-adjusted and thriving dog will need to learn how to be alone.
“When acquiring a new puppy, plan on some vacation time from work so your puppy can get acclimated to the new environment,” said Janek.
Use the time off to get your dog used to the house and their crate. Once they’re more comfortable at your house, you can leave them at home in their crate for an hour or more at a time. Janek recommends making arrangements for someone to let the puppy out at least once or twice after you return to work.
How Long Can Puppies Be Alone?
- Under 10 weeks: 1 hour
- 10-12 weeks: 2 hours
- 3 months: 3 hours
- 4 months: 4 hours
- 5 months: 5 hours
- 6 months: 6 hours
- Over 6 months: Maximum 6-8 hours
Remember, dogs and especially puppies need to urinate often. As a guideline, new puppies up to 10 weeks old typically can’t hold their bladder for more than an hour. Dogs between 10 to 12 weeks old can usually hold it for around two hours.
Once your dog reaches three months old, they can usually hold it for an hour for each month they’ve been alive. After six months, dogs can usually hold it for up to six hours. However, even adult dogs shouldn’t be home alone for much longer than six to eight hours without a chance for a bathroom break.
Teaching Your Puppy How to be Alone
When you first bring home your puppy, it’s likely they’ve never been alone before. To teach your dog how to be alone, start by teaching them how while you’re still home.
Put them in a crate or exercise pen to start out and leave the room. Janek explains that the key is to make this a safe and relaxing place for them, instead of a punishment. To make this a safe space, feed them meals inside it and give them special toys they only get in their crate. You might also try a white noise machine or other anxiety-easing products to provide a more calming effect.
When you’re crate training, Janek recommends setting up a schedule of bathroom breaks and exercise. “Come home for lunch or hire someone to do it for you,” she said. “Leave special safe toys to occupy the puppy while you’re away.”
If you’re nervous to leave your dog alone or are curious about how they react when you’re gone, consider investing in a dog camera so you can check in your dog when you aren’t home.
How Long Can Older Dogs Be Alone?
While puppies require constant care, they’ll gradually learn how to be comfortable alone for an eight-hour workday.
“Older dogs seem to do well at home alone while owners are away at work and other functions,” she said. “Senior dogs may need to be out more frequently, so going home for lunch or having someone to come by to let the dog out may be required.”
However, each dog is different. Once you observe and get to know your dog, you’ll be able to better understand their needs and adjust accordingly.
Considerations Before Getting a Dog
A new puppy brings a lot of joy and excitement, but you should consider your current schedule and availability before getting a dog. “How long the puppy is going to be home alone should be considered before bringing home a new puppy,” Janek said.
Dogs are social animals and shouldn’t be cooped up in a kennel or tied up outside all day. Dogs are the happiest when they’re with the people they love. Janek reiterated that puppies need exercise, time to bond, and time to get used to their new environment.
“If you don’t intend to spend lots of time with the dog each day, morning, afternoon, and evening, maybe a different pet would be a better fit,” she said.
When you’re considering adding a dog to your family, decide who is responsible for feeding, grooming, exercising, and training the dog. A new dog in the family is a great addition if everyone agrees to do their part in their care.