Spending time with your furry friend, cuddling and playing with them is the best part. You might want to spend your whole day around your dog. However, that’s not possible. Sometimes, you have to leave your dog alone at home for your outdoor visits. Also, dogs are not allowed in many places.
Unfortunately, if you are starting a busy working life, you need to leave the dog alone every day for a number of hours. But, have you wondered how long can you leave a dog alone? Let us find out what experts say about this.
Things to Consider While Leaving Your Dog Alone
How long your dog can stay home alone completely depends on your dog, their age, and their physical and emotional needs. Though there are many factors to consider while leaving your dog behind at home, we may contemplate the primary ones. You may consider the following:
Your Dog’s Bladder Control
An adult dog might not need frequent breaks outside and have long control over the bladder. However, small puppies and senior dogs need to urinate more frequently. Hence, this is the foremost reason to keep in mind while deciding the number of hours you may leave your dog alone.
Like humans, age, hydration, and physical build affects how often your dog needs to relieve itself. You may set a routine to walk your dog just before you leave and immediately after arrival.
Your Dog’s Emotional Needs
How long your dog can stay home alone also depends on what daily exercise and interaction they need from you. If your dog is inactive and likes to spend most of his time on his bed then you will be relieved to leave him alone. However, if your dog is active and loves cuddling you or playing outdoors, he may find it difficult to spend time in your absence.
Changes in Behaviour
Changes in behaviour are often witnessed in many dogs when they are left alone for many hours. This is due to separation anxiety. Examples of behaviour changes include increased lethargy, depression or disinterest in once-beloved activities, and destructive tendencies.
Dogs are social and typically prefer to be with others. Some may always struggle with being alone. When a dog doesn’t know how to cope, he may turn to clawing stuff around the house, barking or howling.
How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?
You might be having a bust working life where leaving your dog alone at home is a must since you can’t carry him everywhere. So, how long can you leave a dog alone? This depends on the individual. A dog’s breed, age, size, learned routine, established behaviour patterns and health are the factors that affect the number of hours a dog leaves alone.
As per the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, “Adult dogs should be given an opportunity to go out about every four hours when possible, but can
reasonably be expected to hold their urine for 8 hours or longer. Some medical conditions can make it
necessary for an adult dog to urinate more frequently.“
As a general rule, an adult dog should never be left alone for more than 4 hours. However, this time varies and decreases when you talk about your small pup or senior dog. Basically, puppies need a lot of care and attention. Never leave a puppy under ten weeks old alone for more than one hour.
This rule also applies to senior dogs or dogs having underlying medical conditions like diabetes or disease related to kidneys. They cannot hold their bladder for a longer time and may need more frequent breaks outside. The American Kennel Club says, when your puppy is between 10 and 12 weeks old, you can work your way up to two hours. By six months old, most dogs can hold their bladder for about six hours.
Some breeds like Australian Shepherds and Siberian Huskies need a lot of exercise. They can become destructive as well as aggressive if they are bored or left indoors. More than two hours alone could send energetic breeds into a rage.
Basset Hounds are much more sedentary and relax well on their own and thus they can spend more time alone. Similarly, French Bulldog, Chihuahuas and Pugs are some of the breeds that are best at being left alone for long periods.
What Will My Dog Do While I’m Away?
Your lazy pup will take a long nap while you are not around. While your active energetic one will be more mischievous, jumping up over the windows or on the kitchen counter to steal his treat.
However, if your dog has separation anxiety, he might indulge himself in destructive activities. This includes ruining furniture, destroying toys or breaking precious valuables. If your pet suffers from it, try leaving them alone for short intervals and gradually increase the alone time.
Ways to Improve the Dog’s Alone Time
As long as you make the pre-arrangements for your Fido to be alone, he will definitely enjoy his alone time. You need to make sure that you meet your dog’s needs. There are several ways to make your dog feel more comfortable when they’re alone.
Determine the Most Comfortable Place
Your dog will enjoy his me-time when he is comfortable with where he is. You need to leave your dog at his favourite place where he would love spending time. It could be roaming in the house, in the crate or being in a room surrounded by his favourite toys.
The location where you leave your dog is important to consider. For maximum comfort, dogs should ideally have access to their favourite spaces or the areas they find safest and most relaxing. You need to clean the room and lock some of them so that your dog does not mess up around in your absence.
Walk Your Dog Before and After
If you leave your dog alone every day for a few hours, set a routine such that your dog gets exercise as well as a break outside to urinate just before you leave. When you walk your dog, allow them to sniff along the way since it helps tire them out both physically and mentally.
The same should be followed after your arrival as your dog need to empty his bladder after the hours you were away from him. This everyday routine will help your dog stay alone for a longer period of time as well as prepare your dog to have control over his bladder.
Put Some Background Noise
Some dogs might get distressed by outdoor noises such as vehicle horns and animal sounds. It is important that your dog does not get disturbed or scared by such noises, thus do not leave your dog in complete silence.
You can put on some slow music or keep the television or radio turned on to curb the outdoor noises. This will also help the dog feel your presence around.
Keep Them Entertained
Dogs get bored when they have nothing to do or no one around to play or cuddle with them. Thus, leave your dogs with some treats or fun toys to play with. A stuffed toy may also help your dog relieve boredom and very mild anxiety when they’re alone.
You can also provide them with puzzle toys where they need to solve puzzles in order to get the treat hidden inside them. Such activities will keep them occupied for some time. Make sure to experiment with different toys and puzzles before leaving your dog alone to know which ones they love and enjoy.
- How long is OK to leave a dog alone?
The length of time a dog can be left alone depends on the individual dog, but we advise that they are left for no longer than four hours so they have opportunities to exercise, go to the toilet, and spend time with people.
- Is it cruel to leave a dog alone all day?
As a general rule, your dog should never be left alone for more than four hours at a time. However, this will greatly depend on your dog, their age, breed and how they cope with being on their own in the house. Some may struggle to be away from their owners for this long and others will be unphased.
- What happens if dogs are left alone too much?
Destructive behaviour is also a symptom of separation anxiety. Dogs are social and typically prefer to be with others. Some may always struggle with being alone. When a dog doesn’t know how to self-soothe or cope, it may turn to chewing or clawing stuff around the house or barking or howling.
In a nutshell, how long can you leave your dog alone, depends on various factors including his breed, age and behaviour. It is a good practice to start with a short interval and then gradually increase the time. Train your dog to set himself in a routine. Also, observe his behaviour when you arrive. This will help you determine the number of hours he should be spending alone time.
As a general rule, adult dogs should not be left alone for more than 4 to 6 hours and a puppy or a senior dog can survive the alone time for 3 to 4 hours depending on their age and medical conditions. Additionally, look for behavioural changes in your dog as that might be signs of separation anxiety. Consult a vet in such cases and look for the betterment of your Fido!