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How Long Can I Leave My Dog Alone?

Dogs are social animals that need companionship and exercise. Leaving a dog alone for long periods of time can cause anxiety and boredom, so it is important to know how long it is fair and humane to leave your dog alone. The amount of time that is appropriate for a dog to be left alone will vary depending on the individual dog's age, breed, health, and temperament. For example, a puppy or a senior dog may need to be let out more often than a healthy adult dog.

How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone

Can my dog be alone all day?

Many dogs spend most of their days sleeping. Every day you have a professional activity and a workplace to attend to, your dog remains alone for several hours. He's not bored, he's asleep. It is important to underline this.
He is unhappy (and you have problems) when he doesn't do much more while you are there.
I only know of one type of person who can offer their dog a completely different way of life, and that is the retired. They often have other things to do than organize their daily lives around their dogs, certainly, but they have the greatest availability of all.
Apart from retirees (and those who work outside and with their dogs, perhaps, but there are fewer of them), we work, so we leave our dogs alone. If we work at home, on the other hand, they also sleep when we work.
When your dog sleeps for several hours, it stores energy to expend. Whatever its size, breed, or energy level, the more a dog sleeps, the more energy it has to expend when it wakes up.
For his well-being, the most useful thing is to review your organization.
For example, if your dog has slept 2 or 3 hours, you have virtually less energy to expend on him than if he has slept 6 or 8 hours. On this principle, it's up to you to see what your dog needs because they are all different!

You know that after 2 or 3 hours of doing nothing, you will be there to play or take it out for a while; after 6 or 8 hours of doing nothing, your dog has more needs than just a moment of entertainment.

Is it time to get it out fast for 10 minutes? Isn't it better to plan a long outing at that time? If there are other questions to ask yourself, take a look at it and you will find something that is adapted to your dog's needs.

Do dogs get sad when you leave them alone?

The only way to leave your dog alone and ensure that he does not suffer is to gradually become accustomed to remaining alone.
Ideally, this is done with an 8-week-old puppy. It is a matter of leaving the puppy alone for a few minutes, little by little, for a few hours... In the end, it remains half a day, then the duration increases to x hours, the number of hours during which you must leave it.
Take some time off to set this up. That's what a lot of people do. They force themselves to leave their homes according to a small schedule so that, throughout their leave, the duration of their absence gradually increases. It's weird at first, then you get used to it, and it works when you're progressive.
A dog who has not been gradually accustomed (from a young age) may require a completely different program known as desensitization.

Dogs express their discomfort differently from each other, even if there are common or widespread behaviors. We know that leaving your dog alone makes him unhappy if he destroys things at home, if he barks all the time he is alone, or if he relieves himself, among other possible indicators.

These are normal dog behaviors when he has not learned to be alone. Sometimes, of course, some behaviors are more worrying, such as hurting oneself to try to escape or going in circles in front of a wall.

You should ask a dog trainer for help if your dog has embarrassing or disturbing behavior. It may also be due to something other than loneliness, or there are several causes.

Many dogs are probably neither happy nor unhappy. They are subject to our schedules; they do not ask questions as we do. It is up to us to take the necessary measures to do better.

How to tell if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a real condition that can affect dogs. Symptoms of separation anxiety include barking excessively, chewing on furniture, or having accidents in the house when the dog is left alone. If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, please consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Can a dog hold its pee for a long time?

This depends on each dog.

Puppies don't stay long. In general, a 3 to 4 month-old puppy will need to go out every 2 to 3 hours at the most. The older he gets, the more he is able to hold back. In addition to the physical capacity, a puppy will also gradually adjust to the schedule you set up. You have no choice, because you have a schedule. So your dog has no choice either. He follows your schedule.
In doing so, his body gets used to it. Unfortunately, I know of adult dogs that can hold on for an extremely long time; they have gotten used to it. Does that mean they can handle it well, that they don't suffer from it? Not sure! Not sure! It is also important to know that health problems sometimes appear in dogs that retain themselves for extreme lengths of time every day. They hold back because they have learned to be clean. It's sad, when you think about it.
Now, just because a dog is able to hold on for 10 hours doesn't mean it's a "good" duration. The right length of time to leave your dog alone is the shortest possible. This is the best you can do by organizing yourself.
Adult dogs retain 6 to 8 hours overall. Does this mean that you can leave your dog alone for 6 to 8 hours without worrying about anything? No, you can imagine that. A dog is not just a gastrointestinal tract that evacuates urine and feces...
He needs other things, too, including interaction.
Well, what many people forget when they take a puppy, but of course you don't necessarily think about that when you welcome a "baby", is that one day it will get old. And on that day, he will hold back a little less and less. An old dog usually holds back less, not to mention possible health problems.
Sometimes it takes a solid organization to give him the well-being he deserves.

Read also: How to Train Your Dog to Poop and Pee in the Right Place

Is it better for my dog to be left alone with another dog or cat?

I completely understand that it's guilt-free to think that. Unfortunately, contrary to a common misconception, leaving your dog alone with another dog or cat does not change the problem.

  • Two dogs will give you two dogs that spend their days sleeping instead of just one.
  • A dog and a cat will make you a sleeping dog and a sleeping cat (unless he goes out).

Think otherwise if it makes you feel better. I also have comforting thoughts when I feel guilty about this and that with my dog. The reality, however, is that dogs need us to expend their energy and have fun.

Is it better if I leave my dog alone in the garden?

Leaving your dog alone in the garden may seem more ethical than leaving it between four walls.
However, the dog is always alone. And concretely, a dog will not spend 6, 8, or more hours alone sniffing a place he knows by heart.
Any outside stimuli that are not inside cannot keep your dog occupied all day. Not in a healthy, useful, and safe way, as only you can do it.
In addition, what will eventually occupy him outside, between naps, will often not please you or your neighbors, as it is usually a matter of barking.
Other problems may also arise.
It's up to you, but dogs shouldn't stay outdoors unattended for long, including in a place secured by a fence.

Is there an ideal duration for leaving your dog alone?

No, as it does not solely hinge on the number of hours spent in solitude.

Consider a scenario where a dog remains alone for 8 hours every day, with 1-hour outings in the morning and evening in natural surroundings. Now, imagine the same dog subjected to the same period of solitude but with only 10-minute outings at 7:00 and 19:00 within the same neighborhood.

In the first case, the 8-hour period seems relatively well compensated, whereas in the second scenario, it appears quite inadequate.

Many individuals have dogs amidst busy schedules and struggle to meet their needs. Conversely, some people manage to organize their daily routines effectively while working, providing substantial compensation for their dogs.

From my perspective, if you're seeking a figure that reflects an ethical standpoint, it raises concerns for me when a dog is left alone for 8 hours consistently (daily, every week). However, this concern depends on what dog owners offer their pets before and after work. I'm aware of some owners who spend a significant portion of their evenings or late afternoons outdoors with their dogs, effectively providing a second active part of the day.

Addressing this topic necessitates consideration beyond mere hours.

However, if you desire a reference point, contemplate one number. In my view, leaving your dog alone for 8 hours is a substantial duration, impacting their bathroom breaks, interactions, entertainment, and overall well-being. I acknowledge the practical realities faced by most people. If we disregard these realities (in an ideal but non-existent world), I would suggest that leaving your dog alone for 5 hours is a less severe situation. Dog trainers may advocate for zero hours of solitude, while others propose a maximum of three hours. Keep in mind that there is no universally recognized standard in this regard!

Read also: Tips to Stop your Dog Chewing Furniture When you Leave the House

Are there any dog breeds that can be left alone for longer?


But to develop a little bit, though:

  • There are breeds of dogs that have very high physical activity needs; choosing one of these dogs when you work all day, when you don't come home at lunchtime, and when you finish late, is incomprehensible to me. Some of these very energetic dogs are able to adapt to relatively quiet and solitary lifestyles. Nevertheless, their bodies, their instincts, and their needs are not made for that.
  • There are dog breeds that have less need for energy expenditure, but all dogs-without exception-are active animals that need to exercise daily through (at least) walking and olfactory exploration as regularly as possible.
  • Let's add/remind us that taking out your dog is far from being the only benevolent response to your dog's needs. Dogs also need interaction with us.
They need our presence. We have been breeding them for centuries to have extraordinary social skills with humans. All of them, even dogs that are said to be "less close to humans".

How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone

How can you leave your dog alone and be sure he's not unhappy?

Toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained, but they are not a substitute for companionship and exercise. A child can take care of himself, but a dog cannot. A so-called "occupancy toy" will only keep your dog occupied for a few minutes or seconds. A chewable bone will keep him busy for a little while, but not for hours. No object can compensate for the exercise, the walks, or the time you spend with your dog. It's normal to not want to spend as much time with your dog on some days, but it's important to be as consistent as possible.

A good toy that your dog likes can be a great way to have fun with him, but it's not a solution for leaving him alone for several hours.

There are three things you can do to leave your dog alone for several hours and prevent him from being unhappy:

  • Get him used to a regular schedule of being alone and going out for walks and playtime from a young age. This will help him to understand that this is the norm and that he will be okay when you're gone.
  • Adjust his environment to compensate for the hours he will be alone. This may involve providing him with comfortable bedding, plenty of toys, and access to food and water.
  • Consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to come and let your dog out and play with him while you're away. This is especially important if you will be gone for more than 4 hours.

If you're not sure how to get started, here are a few tips:

  • Before leaving for work, take your dog out for a long walk or play session. This will help to tire him out and make it easier for him to relax when you're gone.
  • When you get home from work, spend some time with your dog playing, walking, or just cuddling. This will help him to feel loved and appreciated.
  • Observe your dog on a daily basis to see what kind of outings he enjoys the most and how long he needs to be out for. Some dogs may be content with a short walk around the block, while others may need a longer run or a trip to the dog park.
  • Remember that walking or running is not the only way for your dog to enjoy his outings. Dogs also need to sniff and explore. It's better to take your dog for a leisurely walk where he can sniff around at his own pace than to force him to go for a fast-paced run that he doesn't enjoy.
  • An outing doesn't have to be long or strenuous to be beneficial for your dog. Just a few minutes of sniffing around can be enough to tire him out and meet his needs.
  • It's more important to be consistent with your dog's outings than to try to make up for it on the weekends. Dogs need to exercise every day, even if it's just for a short walk.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your dog is happy and healthy, even when you have to leave him alone for a few hours.

How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone in The House

In conclusion:

Organization is Key: The duration your dog spends alone directly affects the time it takes for them to re-energize before or after this solitude. Prioritizing your dog's well-being requires careful organization. Changing your habits should be a gradual process rather than an overnight transformation.

Gradual Adaptation: A dog that can tolerate extended periods of solitude is typically one that has been acclimated to being alone gradually, alongside adequate compensation in terms of the quality, duration, and regularity of outings.

Minimize Solitude Ethically: Ethically, the shortest possible time for your dog to be alone is ideal, as dogs vary in their ability to refrain from relieving themselves.

Additional Pets Aren't a Solution: Acquiring another pet, such as a dog or cat, with the expectation that it will alleviate your current pet's loneliness, often results in two animals experiencing loneliness instead of one.

Consider Outdoor Time Carefully: Thoroughly evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of leaving your dog alone outside, as the outdoors may seem more stimulating, but it can lead to undesirable behaviors.

Match Breed Needs: No particular dog breed is inherently better at being left alone than another. It's crucial to research a breed's specific needs and consider whether they align with your lifestyle before acquiring a dog.

More than Just Exercise: Dogs require more than just physical exercise; they need the opportunity to explore various environments due to their powerful sense of smell. Remember that they also crave interaction with their human companions, a need that no toy or technological device can replace.

Better Organization and Services: Improved organization is often the solution when you find yourself leaving your dog alone for extended periods. Utilizing dog walking services can also be beneficial.

Morning Outing Significance: The morning outing holds particular importance for a dog that will spend the entire day alone.

In summary, understanding your dog's unique needs, providing them with appropriate mental and physical stimulation, and organizing your daily routines to accommodate these requirements are crucial aspects of responsible dog ownership. Balancing your dog's well-being with your own commitments is a continual process that can greatly enhance your pet's quality of life.