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The PupJoy Post

How Long is it Okay to Leave Your Dog Alone?

Authored by Emily Bruer via FetchFind

Human guilt notwithstanding, there are legitimate health questions to consider when leaving your dog alone for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately, there's no one answer we can point to and definitively say, "No longer than X hours."

As we're always pointing out, dogs are like humans — every one is different. There are many factors that affect how long your dog will be okay with flying solo.

In general, look to these guidelines, and then practice with some old-fashioned trial and error. Watch how your pup does, and adjust accordingly.


Puppies: A good rule of thumb is that a puppy can hold her bladder one hour for every month old she is, up to 8 hours. So if you have an 8 week old puppy, she'll need to be let out every 2 hours.

Seniors: Old dogs can start having trouble holding their bladders, so they may need to be let out more frequently as well. If your dog is beginning to show signs of potty problems — and your vet has ruled out any treatable medical conditions — you may consider putting puppy pads down for her to use when you are away from the house.

A doggy door might be an option as well, depending on your circumstances.

Activity Level

If you have a high-energy dog, 8or more hours alone in a crate can be overwhelming.

To combat your dog’s excessive energy and help her make it through a day alone, try lots of morning exercise, like taking her on a run, or a vigorous to the dog park.

If you can swing it, the AM-exercise plan offers triple benefits: 1) your pooch will be worn out, 2) you get some exercise and energy for your day, and 3) the extra bonding time will help ease any anxiety she may have as you leave for the day.

High-energy dogs in particular will also enjoy food puzzle toys to work off some mental energy while you're gone.

If your dog is a couch potato, chances are she'll be more than happy hanging out at home all da long. Make sure she has a comfy place to sleep and some soothing music, and she'll be ready to nap the day away.


If your dog is under the weather or currently on medications, you may need to let her out more often than you normally would.

Some medications (like prednisone) can cause increased thirst and urination, while others may cause diarrhea or upset stomach. If this is the case for your dog, a visit from a dog walker or a trip home from work every 3-4 hours would be welcomed by your pet.

No matter how old, active or healthy your dog is, there are a few things you can do to keep her occupied while you are away from the house.

Kong toys are a great activity for dogs of all ages. These toys are durable and easy to stuff full of treats, so they can keep your dog busy for hours. When I stuff my dog’s Kongs, I use a mixture of peanut butter, dog food, and low sodium beef or chicken broth. For an extra challenge, freeze them before you give them to your pup!

Having soothing music or the television on can also be a great distraction for your dog. Just be sure not to leave it on anything too distressing. Remember that nature sounds can have storm noise that may scare many dogs.

If you are away from home for long hours, you may also want to consider hiring a dog walker.

You can find excellent, dog walkers on pet-sitting websites, and many are reasonably priced and extremely knowledgeable about dogs. If you decide to have a dog walker I suggest doing a meet and greet beforehand so you and your dog can get a feel for the new person.

Regardless of how long you think your dog will be able to manage without you, always keep in mind that the longer you are gone, the more they miss you.

Be sure to give your dog plenty of one-on-one time, exercise and affection when you get home.

And try not to feel bad about leaving her. If you didn't go to work, you wouldn't be able to spoil her with all those toys & treats, right?