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October 15, 2011 at 4:45 PMComments: 8 Faves: 0

How Long Can a Dog Be Left Alone?

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Dogs are very social animals, pack animals, that need to spend most of their time around people and family. I often get asked by my clients, "How long is too long for a dog to be left alone?" Many pet-parents work long hours and think it is acceptable for their dog to be crated for up to 9 hours.

I hope this helps answer this common question.

How long can a dog be left alone?

It depends on the age. If your dog is over 1 years old, they can be left alone up to 6-8 hours at a time. If you work full time, please consider hiring a dog walker for a midday break for your pooch. It is important to give your dog an opportunity to stretch their legs and give them a potty break.

Another GREAT option is Doggy Daycare, which provides your dog a break from their crate. Check out my blog on Doggy Daycare to get more information.

Absolutely, under no circumstances should a dog be left alone for over 8 hours. A dog that is crated for long periods of time day after day can develop behavioral issues and stress. Some dogs can also develop separation anxiety, a very serious behavioral condition.

How long can a puppy be left alone?

A puppy that is not fully potty trained should not be left alone for more then 1 - 2 hours at a time. As your puppy continues to improve on their potty training, you can increase the time they are left alone; however, it should not be more than 4 hours at a time.

If you have a puppy and work full time, you should hire someone to come over to give your puppy a potty break. Another option is to ask a neighbor that is home to come over to take your puppy out for a potty break.

Coming home on your lunch break to take care of your puppy during this young age is another way to make sure your puppy can relieve itself.

Puppies also need socialization at this very young age. Leaving a puppy alone for many hours can hinder their development of socialization Also, for a puppy it is imperative that they have socialization time throughout the day.

Alternative to getting a Puppy/Dog

If you have no alternative than to leave a dog alone for more then 8 hours, you should reconsider owning a dog. Prior to getting a puppy or dog, realizing how much time you have to spend with a dog and figuring out if you can afford someone to help take care of your puppy/dog while you are working is important.

A WONDERFUL alternative would be adopting a cat. Cats are very independent and easier to take care of. They can easily be left alone for up to 9 hours a day. However, consider adopting two cats, so they have each other for company and for playmates throughout the day.


Dog Fancy Magazine, 2011

Bark Talk - Leave Dog Alone

Photo Credit


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  • And THIS is a big part of why, I'm a cat person.

    I like dogs, I see the big beautiful huskies and chow chows and I like the IDEA of owning a big, beautiful dog to take for runs through the woods, but taking care of my mom's little teacup poodle for just a couple months was really telling.

    I like HIM, but I didn't like having to make sure he got outside to go potty, or keeping him from eating the cats foods, or having to keep constant watch to make sure he wasn't going potty in the house. I didn't like him always needing to be with me, or for him, preferably on me either.

    I could tell he wasn't happy with the amount of attention I had available for him and I realized though having a dog was fun, it was NOT like having another cat. It's a lot more like having a toddler! I have to be honest with myself. At this point at least, I don't want the responsibility of owning a dog. I'm glad we were able to find a new home for him where he could be the center of attention.

  • I am in the same boat as you Erin! I absolutely love the idea of owning a dog. I love to play with my friends' dogs, but am always happy that at the end of the day...I get to go to my house and be dog free. I just am not ready for all the responsibility that comes with owning a dog at this moment in time. Possibly in the future. :) For now I will take advantage of the fun parts of owning a dog by playing with my friends' dogs!

  • Hi Bri and Erin!
    I LOVED your comment on this especially because you both acknowledge the work it takes to own a dog. It is quite the responsibility! So proud that you both say not yet to a dog! It is to bad that more people don't realize this before getting themselves in a difficult predicament that is extremely difficult to get out of once you own a dog.

  • How about if they have another dog with them would that help?

  • Hi Carlos! I love it when dogs are paired together, I have two, but the timeframe still stands the same. Dogs rarely entertain themselves when their humans are away, it is more of a sleep-fest. So even if there are multi dogs in the household, they most likely are all sleeping - patiently awaiting for their human pack to return.

  • Carlos, another dog won't help take the first dog out for a potty break. Cats use litter box. Dogs need to go outside! It's so wrong for people to leave their dog for one periods of time because they get crystals in urine and get urinary tract infections. I've heard people say their dog is used to holding it that long! Even if they are forced to hold it, they can still get infections from this. I know you wouldn't do this... Our dog gets taken out about four times a day. Our little dog uses piddle pad. Your dog is a part of your life, but YOU ARE the dogs life!!! Be blessed!

  • Very good points Ida, thank you for sharing them.

  • I owned a precious Minature Collie for 14 years before he passed away. I owned one cat for 6 years before I started rescuing and adopting 12 more. When I owned one cat, she was way easier than caring for my dog. Now that I have 13 it is lots of work but love each one if them. It helps that we have a huge Catio and a sun room with a pet door that they can go in and out whenever they want. If you are going to get a cat, I would suggest adopting two as it is so nice for them to have company when you are gone.

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