How Long Can Dogs Be Left Alone?

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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As a dog owner, I used to wonder if having me-time out of the house was cruel since I’ll leave the pups at home.

Our canine friends can sit alone for a while, but the real question here is: How long can dogs be left alone?

In this article, we’ll go over the average estimate, what factors to keep in mind, and how to make your dog’s solo time fun and safe. Let’s jump right in!

How Long Can Dogs Be Left Alone?

Generally‌‌, we can leave dogs alone for an average of six hours, provided that they have enough food, bathroom breaks, and the right temperament.

However, I always like to remind myself that dogs are pack animals!

This means your doggo thrives on attention and interaction. Thus, leaving him for long periods could trigger separation anxiety.

The signs to watch out for include:

  • Howling
  • Barking
  • Destroying household items
  • Appetite changes
two golden pups sitting on black leather couch

What Factors Influence Your Dog’s Alone Time?

When talking about solo time, what works for a pup might not work for another. So, before you decide on leaving your dog alone, you need to consider some factors.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

1. Puppies Are Needy

Just like kids, young pups are super cute but needy.

For instance, I couldn’t leave a two-month-old puppy alone for more than two hours since he’s mostly dependent on me.

A few months later, the same pup might be fine alone for up to four hours or so!

What I’m trying to say here is that as dogs go older, their activity level and need for playtime will decrease. As a result, they might even sleep the whole time you’re out.

This extended nap time might make it more convenient to leave your canine companion alone for longer durations.

2. Bathroom Time Is the Limiting Factor

Unless you want to return home to an unpleasant surprise on your favorite couch, you must consider your dog’s bathroom habits before leaving them alone.

Typically, your dog will need about four potty breaks per day. So, more often than not, you’ll have to schedule the solo time around those nature calls.

As for a less trained pup, typically, they can hold it for hours equal to their age in months.

Just keep in mind that both of these numbers are only average estimates. No one will know your dog’s needs like you and your vet!

For instance, some poor pooches might suffer from conditions that diminish the bladder capacity, like:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary tract infections

3. Feeding Schedules Are a Priority

Unless you have an automated feeder, the first rule to leaving your canine buddy alone is making sure there’s enough food. By enough, I mean at least two meals a day.

Some younger dogs will require feeding three times a day with treats in between. Another approach that works for a growing pooch is four small meals.

So, it all boils down to the little pup’s appetite.

Golden retriever sitting on floor in front of couch

4. Not All Good Boys Are Created Equal

The great thing about dogs is that each one is unique in terms of personality.

While it’s always fun to see what kind of pooch yours will turn out to be, the distinction in traits can make all the difference with solo time.

From my experience, some dogs can get pretty destructive and chaotic when bored or alone. Others adore the sedentary lifestyle and will settle for doing nothing all day.

My advice is to observe your doggo from puppyhood to learn best about their behavioral pattern.

How to Create a Safe Alone Time for Your Dog

Your dog doesn’t have to associate solo time with loneliness and feeling left out. With a few simple steps, alone time can be part of their daily routine without hassle.

1. Gradually Build up the Duration

From what I’ve seen, adequately training any dog to stay alone can reduce their anxiety and panic.

The training is straightforward, and it goes as follows:

  • First, get out of the room for a minute while they’re distracted by playing.
  • After that, start leaving the room for a few minutes to half an hour while they’re aware of your absence, but supervise them from a distance.
  • Gradually increase the solo time duration until they’re comfortable being separated from you.

Pro-tip: avoid saying goodbye to your dog, so they feel normal about the whole experience.

2. Wear Them Down for a While

As a general rule, your pet must let off steam before the solo time begins. I’d recommend taking the dog out for a 30-minute walk or playing fetch.

Not only is it good to get the first bathroom break out of the way, but the dog will mostly fall asleep afterward. It’s fairly simple but works like a charm every time!

Cute dog near fireplace at home

3. Create a Safe Zone for Your Dog

If your dog feels safe and comfortable, he won’t make a fuss or freak out about being alone.

I prefer leaving dogs in a relatively quiet place, as loud noises might alert them. On top of that, access to food and a full bowl of water creates a stress-free environment for your pal.

Another thing that helps my dog big time is surrounding him with his favorite toys. The only pitfall for leaving certain toys is the choking hazard, so you’ll have to be vigilant about what you keep in the dog’s reach.

Between you and me, you’ll feel much better leaving the pups alone if you know they have everything they need to enjoy their time safely.

In a Nutshell

No one really takes joy in leaving their furbaby behind, but it’s inevitable, which begs the question: How long can dogs be left alone?

Factors like your dog’s age, bladder control, feeding schedule, and general attitude can significantly affect your decision.

Gradual training can help your pooch get accustomed to solo time calmly and comfortably. Additionally, physical activity before leaving can wear the dog out for a while until you’re back.

At last, the best you can do is to always create a safe, fun zone for your buddy before heading out!

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.