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What age can dog be left home alone?

How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?

While you want to spend every waking moment staring into your sweet puppy’s eyes, a full-time job, driving the kids to school, or other responsibilities might cut your time together short. Leaving you to wonder, “How long can I leave my puppy alone?”

The answer depends on how old your puppy is and how well-trained they are. As we know, puppies need bathroom breaks often, so it’s good to keep this in mind to prevent accidents and distress. According to the AKC, a good rule of thumb is to use your puppy’s age as a guide. Experts say you can usually leave your puppy alone for an hour for each month they’ve been alive after three months of age. For example, at five months of age, your puppy will probably be just fine for five hours. Before this phase of life, however, your puppy will likely need to go out every one to two hours – so you should be as present as possible. Your presence is also important for bonding and socialization during this critical period of their life.

While it may feel nerve-wracking to leave your pup alone for an extended period of time, if you know how to prepare them, they’ll slowly adapt. Whether it’s crate training or offering an irresistible chew toy, there are various ways to help your puppy acclimate to being alone.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when leaving your puppy alone.

Puppy-proofing and preparing your house

When you leave your puppy home alone, the idea of them having zero supervision may worry you. One of the best ways to avoid unexpected accidents is to take preventative measures such as puppy-proofing your house.

Puppies are naturally inclined to be curious, especially if they’re in a new setting. They may explore and express their curiosity by chewing furniture or items that are not meant for dogs. Be wary of exposed electrical cords, human food, or chemical cleaning supplies that could potentially harm animals. Hide small household items that might be mistaken for toys, and provide your dog with plenty of other types of chew toys or puzzle toys instead. You can also use a puppy pen or a baby gate to set boundaries within an area that’s safe for your dog to explore.

Crate training for when you leave your puppy alone

Crate training provides a variety of benefits for your dog during their adjustment period. It’s a safe, structured routine for your puppy when they need a place to rest. It can also be used alongside a safe dog training collar for potty training to help minimize potty accidents in the house.

When introducing crate training to your puppy, it’s important to do so in a calm, encouraging manner. They need to view the crate as a sanctuary and develop a healthy habit of using it on a daily basis. Find ways to help your pup associate positive factors with the crate itself, whether it’s with their favorite chew toys, snacks, or cozy dog beds. Slowly but surely, they’ll find that they can relax in it, and that when you leave them alone, they’re still kept safe.

Depending on their month of age, dogs can stay in their crates for different periods of time. Younger dogs can only go from one to three hours, while older dogs can go for a few more. However, this shouldn’t be a daily practice, as your dog needs frequent movement and exercise to stay healthy.

Pet Pro Tip: New kitten owners often underestimate the long-term costs of veterinary care for a pet’s unexpected accidents & illnesses. Make sure you get your kitten insured as soon as possible!

Hiring a dog walker or pet sitter

If you and your family members are often out for work or school, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to tend to your dog’s needs. With a regular pet sitter, you can trust that they get the interaction and supervision that they need, as well as more frequent potty breaks. With dog walkers, your pet will also have the opportunity to empty their bladder and minimize potty accidents in the house.

Doggy daycare is also a great alternative, as your companion will have the opportunity to socialize with other dogs and people. While they enjoy having playtime with their puppy friends, you can rest assured during your workday that they won’t have to wait for hours on end until you get home.

Providing plenty of play and interaction

Dogs are highly social animals that require daily stimulation from their pet parents. Make sure to interact with them just as much as you go out to make sure you build up your bond. Especially when they first join your family as a puppy, they need lots of attention, love, and patience to grow into sociable, healthy adult dogs.

You can gradually train your young dog to do well with alone time, but leaving them home alone for too long and too often can have a negative impact on their long-term development. In the long run, it’s crucial that you consider these options and implement necessary changes as early as possible. That way, you can guarantee that your puppy lives an exciting, healthy, and fulfilling life as they develop a meaningful connection with your family.

Unexpected accidents and injuries happen, especially for young puppies acclimating to new homes. Pumpkin’s dog insurance plans can help you pay for covered vet bills when the unexpected happens, ensuring they get the best care pawsible.

How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?

how long can you leave a puppy alone

“How long can you leave your puppy alone?” is a question many of us have asked ourselves, and the internet isn’t much help sometimes to be honest. There’s lots of contradictory information out there.

But don’t worry! We’re here to answer your questions and help you wrap your brain around it. In this article, we’ll be talking about:

  • How long you can leave a puppy alone for per month of age
  • How to get a puppy used to being alone and that everything is AOK!
  • What you should do the first time you leave your puppy alone
  • Some handy tips and tricks from a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer

Puppies being able to feel alright when left alone is an important skill to have, and should be as much a part of training as toilet training, socialisation, and all those cool tricks we have for you in the Zigzag puppy training app – we don’t want you to get fined because of your puppy wailing endlessly while you’re out, and we want your puppy to be happy home alone too. Read on to find out all about leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time:

dog looking out of the window for owners to come home

How long can you leave a puppy alone?

How long you can leave a puppy alone for depends on their age. For 2 months old, this is an hour or less. However, at over 6 months old, they can be alone for about 6 hours. These timings matter as dogs can only hold their bladders for so long.

The first thing to understand about leaving your puppy alone at home is that dogs and puppies are social creatures that just live for good company – human company! They also don’t come pre-programmed to cope with being on their own. We’re nowhere near superheroes, but puppies depend on us to survive so it makes sense that being without their beloved human companion can make them feel worried. Or like the world is ending…some puppy sounds can definitely sound like that.

But let’s brighten things up. Leaving a puppy alone will definitely be possible in the near future – you just have to work your way through it. Remember that your puppy is a baby and will probably need a lot more company at the start, but they’ll manage just fine eventually. So, when can you leave a puppy alone? We’ve got the answer to your questions, according to their age:

  • 2 months: An hour or less. Yep, puppies really need us at this age, and they also need to go for wees far more often.
  • 3 months: 2 hours tops – otherwise your puppy will likely leave puddles on the floor.
  • 4 months: At this point, how long a puppy can stay alone can start matching their age – so 4 hours. After 4 hours, your puppy will definitely need the toilet, so you might want to keep it at 3 just to make sure. They’ll likely want some cuddles too.
  • 5 months: 5 hours – this is how long any puppy could hold their bladder for too.
  • 6 months: 6 hours – look at them growing up. Your puppy can start to hold their bladder for 5 – 6 hours at this age.
  • Over 6 months: Most 6 months old puppies and dogs can hold their bladder for 6 hours without bursting, but any longer and you’ll need a dog walker or pet sitter to come in to give them some company and let them out for a wee.


  • While the outline is a ‘general’ rule it’s important to remember that every puppy is different, so some might need a little more time to figure it out.
  • Make sure your puppy doesn’t wait too long to go to the toilet though…that can cause some nasty UTIs as well as smelly accidents, which just sets your toilet training back.
  • Nobody likes a crying puppy. If you leave them longer than they can emotionally handle, there’s a risk you might be setting them up for Separation Related Problems too…and we want none of that!

How to train your puppy to be alone

How to get your puppy used to being alone always works well when starting off with something that makes them tick…like food. Closing your puppy in a confinement area with a treat or their favourite toy, walking away, and then coming back with a reward is key.

We do have a full step-by-step program for home alone training in our Zigzag puppy training app (just putting that out there) but here’s a taster of what you’ll need to do:

You will need:

  • Stuffable chew toys such as Kongs, West Paw Toppls or Busy Buddy toys
  • Some of your puppy’s food

Here are the steps on how to train your puppy to be alone:

Step 1

Pop the stuffed food toy in your puppy’s crate, playpen or safe area.

Sit near or next to the area, so that your puppy is comfortable as you’re close by but your puppy is focussed on eating the food, and not on watching you.

Repeat this for at least 5 days so that your puppy gets used to eating out of toys and you being close by.

Step 2

Repeat the previous step, only that this time you’ll be walking around the area and maybe popping out of the room for a second or two before you come back in.


  • Try to not make a fuss of your puppy when you come back in. They’ve noticed you go in and out already…they’re very perceptive, little puppies.
  • Do this for another few days until your puppy is comfortable with you leaving, and popping in and out.

Step 3

Fill that food toy with yummy treats and try leaving the room for 10 seconds while your puppy chomps it all before you return.

Did your puppy carry on eating when you were gone? Good job!

Step 4

Gradually increase the time by just a few seconds each day and start ‘flitting’ in and out, up and down the stairs for them to get used to you focusing on other things but them.

Build up the time so that you’re able to put the food toy down and be in another area of the house for a few minutes while they’re eating.

PRO TIP: It’s worth using a camera to monitor how your puppy is doing once you leave them for longer with the food toy. This will give you a good idea of how quickly you can progress and start leaving your puppy alone for longer.

‘Slowly wins the race’ is definitely true for when you’re figuring out how to get your puppy used to being alone, so don’t feel like you need to rush things. Easy does it.

puppy waiting by window for owners to come home

Leaving a puppy at home alone for the first time: what to do

So, now you know the answer to ‘how long can puppies be alone’, here are my top tips for leaving a puppy alone for the first time, and what to do to make it an easy process. Or easier process, shall we say.

1. Make sure that they have all their basic needs around them like water (and love), as well as:

  • A previous trip to the toilet before you leave them.
  • A good amount of physical and mental exercise that day so that they can use the time you’re gone to rest and relax, rather than getting angsty.
  • Somewhere quiet, warm and secure to snuggle in. Their crate, playpen, or whatever they’re used to sleeping in should do the trick – make sure to make it extra cozy with blankets and toys. Oh, and make sure to puppy proof the area, those shark teeth can chew on the craziest things!
  • Something that smells of you – they love us, let’s leave a little piece of us behind so they can keep us close.

2. Set up a puppy cam

When you’re in the learning process of leaving a puppy alone, a great way to keep an eye on the progress is by literally keeping an eye on them. With a camera, of course.

There are all kinds of apps and puppy cams on the market these days; from free to super-duper expensive, so find one that works for you and watch your puppy from your phone when you’re gone.

3. Don’t go for too long

If you’re leaving a puppy alone for the first few times, make them short and sweet. Maybe try some practice runs when you just nip out for a coffee close to home while you keep an eye on them.

4. Avoid over enthusiastic hellos and goodbyes

One of the main goals is that we want our puppies to think ‘Ok, you’re leaving, no big deal’ when you leave, and ‘Oh you’re back, barely noticed’. We’re not trying to get them to dislike you, trust us, they probably will still go all giddy. But we don’t need to encourage them too much – they already know we’re the best thing ever anyway.

5. Try some calming music

When the house is empty, it can suddenly go very quiet. It can almost seem too quiet. Try leaving your puppy with the radio or some classical music on – it will help muffle outside noises as well as their internal dilemmas. It’s a great way to get a puppy used to being alone in an easy, smooth-ish way.

Leaving your puppy alone can be a worrying time for them and for us! Let’s be honest, it isn’t just puppies who get separation problems, wouldn’t we all love to be stay at home pet parents?

But the truth is that we need to spend some time apart every once in a while, so it’s worth knowing how to train a puppy to be alone when they’re young and can easily absorb information so that we don’t run into trouble later on.

puppy on dog bed in the lounge

FAQs on ‘how long can you leave a puppy alone?’

When can I start leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time?

You can start this training as soon as you bring your pup home. Again, it’s important to look at the puppy’s age. At 2 months old, you can leave them alone for less than an hour if you need to pop to the local shop.

Will my puppy be OK alone?

Your puppy will be fine alone if you stick to the age rules. At 2 months, they can be alone for less than one hour; at 6 months they can hold it for 5-6 hours. It’s important to stick to the time limits so your dog can gain your trust.

What do I do if I need to leave my puppy home alone for longer?

If you know that you need to leave your 6 month old puppy for longer than 6 hours, it’s a good idea to get a dog sitter, or take them to puppy day care.

How long can a 4 month old puppy be left alone?

At 4 months old, a puppy can be left home alone for a maximum of 4 hours. To be safe, you might want to keep it at 3 hours alone. Make sure to give them lots of cuddles when you return.

If you’re starting the ride of leaving your puppy alone for the first time, why not download our app? It’s our way of not leaving you alone. Our wonderful team of Puppy Training Experts are here to help you 24/7 with any struggles you’re having or with any general puppy questions you just simply want some good, trusty advice on. Or a shoulder to cry on in case you miss your puppy so bad when you’re off to the pub.

By Petrina Firth, <a href=

Zigzag Puppy Expert» />

By Petrina Firth, Zigzag Puppy Expert

Fully Qualified COAPE Behaviourist and Registered Training Instructor with The Animal Behaviour and Training Council

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