How long should you leave your dog alone?

A common question among pet parents is how long is too long to leave a dog alone?

Unfortunately, there is no short answer to this question as many factors can affect it. However, following these guidelines will help you determine what’s best for you and your dog.


When trying to decide how long to leave your dog alone age is an important factor to take into consideration. For puppies, a good rule of thumb is that they can hold their bladders for one hour for every month old they are up to 8 hours. This means if you have an 8 week old puppy, he will need to be let out every 2 hours.

Senior dogs can also 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.

Older Dog Whiskers

Activity Level:

If you have a high-energy dog, eight or more hours alone in a crate can be overwhelming. To combat your dog’s excessive energy and help him make it through a day alone try getting him lots of exercise in the morning. A long jog or a trip to the dog park is a great way to start your day off right—your dog will be worn out and you will be energized and ready to start your day at work. These dogs in particular will enjoy food puzzles such as Kongs to work off some mental energy.

If your dog is a couch potato, chances are he is more than happy hanging out at home while you are at work. Make sure he has a comfy place to sleep and some soothing music and he will be ready to nap the day away.

Small Dogs Running in Field


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 your dog 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!

English Bulldog Chewing on Stick in Garden

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.

Two Dogs Sitting on Porch

Another great option if you are away from home for long hours is a dog walker. You can find great 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 spend time with them.

About the Author

Emily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

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