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Let’s face it, owning a dog is pretty special but it can be hard when managing your daily schedule. Dogs are more social than most pets making it even harder to leave them alone.
They crave human companionship and interaction 24/7.
Despite this sometimes we simply have to head out without our furry friends. You might have work to do or simply have a social outing to go to.
Leaving our dog behind can be hard.
We often leave with the feeling of betrayal and worry as we close the door.
Your dog might even sit at the window trying to tempt you back into the house, but there really isn’t anything to worry about. Yes, dogs love our company but leaving them home alone isn’t a bad or dangerous thing to do.
Leaving your dog at home for a few hours is perfectly acceptable if done correctly, which is what we want to help you with today.
If you find yourself wondering how long you can leave your dog home alone, or how to do it safely then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will look at how long you can leave your dog home alone, what you need to consider, and how you make the time at home better for your dog.
Stick around if you want to know more.
How Long Can I Leave My Dog Home Alone?
We will kick this article off with the biggest question everybody wants the answer to.
Although there are many things to consider when leaving your dog home alone such as your dog’s health, age, temperament, and behavior, there is a general consensus regarding how long your dog should be left home alone.
This figure does vary slightly depending on the organization you are looking at, but the most common length of time is four hours.
That figure may surprise you but according to the PDSA and Modern Dog Magazine, four hours is the longest period of time your dog should spend at home on its own.
Other organizations like PAWS Chicago (nonprofit, no-kill shelter) state that a dog can be left on its own for five to six hours. Other experts in the field of dog health agree with both of these lengths of time.
As you can see from these figures there isn’t a specific amount of time conclusively agreed on.
This is simply down to the number of key considerations that need to be made. Every dog is unique so it is vital that you consider a number of key factors when deciding how long your dog can be left on its own.
In some extreme cases, your dog might not be able to be left alone at all.
What Should You Consider?
As we mentioned above there are a number of factors that affect how long you can leave a dog on its own for.
Below you will find some of the things you need to think about when leaving your dog home alone.
You need to consider your dog’s age when leaving it at home. Leaving a small puppy at home is a lot different than leaving an older dog.
One of the main reasons for this is that an older dog is more developed, understanding how to behave better than a puppy.
Another vital factor to think about is in regards to your dog’s age is your dog’s bladder. Puppies will need to go to the toilet more frequently.
As a result of this, you can’t leave a younger dog on its own for as long. The general rule is that puppies (eight weeks to six months old) can be left home alone for roughly one hour for every month they have been alive.
Using this rule as a guide, a three-month-old puppy can be left alone for three hours before needing to be let out to urinate or defecate.
Different breeds of dogs require larger or smaller levels of exercise to stay healthy. This means if you own a dog that requires more exercise you may not be able to leave it home as long as a dog that requires little exercise.
Your dog’s individual exercise needs also depend on the dog’s age and general health level.
Your dog needs to exercise in order to burn calories, digest food, remain healthy, and stimulate their minds.
In general, a healthy dog needs to be walked for about 60 minutes a day. This can vary and doesn’t have to be continuous. It is a good idea to walk or play with your dog before you leave it on its own.
A tired dog won’t cause too much trouble when you’re out. If you do return home and your dog is anxious or has caused destruction around your home, then it’s possible they haven’t had enough exercise.
A good example of this is the Australian Shepherd or Siberian Husky. These two breeds of dogs need a lot of exercises. If they don’t get it they can become destructive when they get bored.
Behavior and Temperament
We all know just how naughty dogs can be but this can cause real issues when leaving your dog on its own.
If your dog is naturally very badly behaved or has a bad temperament you will not be able to leave it on its own for too long.
Your dog may lose patience quickly or become bored, leading to it causing havoc through your house. We’ve all seen videos of a chewed-up sofa.
If your dog does have a bad temperament or behaves badly, you could try putting him/her in a cage when you go out.
It doesn’t matter how long your dog can wait to urinate, or if your dog behaves well if it isn’t mentally stimulated.
Mental activity is important when keeping your little friend happy, healthy, and well-behaved.
Puppies and older dogs need mental stimulation and enrichment throughout the day. Without this, they will get bored very quickly and often turn destructive. Mentally stimulating your dog isn’t difficult when you’re home.
You can go for a walk or play with some toys. However, when you’re out things can get quite tricky. To stimulate your dog and keep him/her entertained you can use various toys and games.
Treat releasing toys, puzzle feeders and puzzle toys are a great way to keep your pal entertained when you’re out.
How Do You Leave Your Dog At Home Safely?
Now you know how long your dog can be left at home and what to consider, we can start looking at how you can set things up for your dog before you go out.
Doing so correctly will help your dog be safe and comfortable while you’re out.
First of all, it is obviously super important that you leave your dog with plenty of food and water for the duration you are out. This will ensure your dog doesn’t dehydrate or go hungry.
If possible try to keep your dog engaged 30 minutes before you go out. To do this you could go for a walk or play with the dog toys. This will stimulate your dog and prevent them from getting too bored while you’re out.
When you do leave the house consider keeping the dog in one room and leaving them some toys out. That way if your dog does start to get bored he/she can stay mentally stimulated.
Our favorite choice is a puzzle toy or food puzzle.
How Can I Get My Dog Used To Being Home Alone?
The easiest way to get your dog accustomed to being left at home on its own is by simply giving it a go in small amounts. You can start by leaving your dog for 20 minutes as you run to the shop.
After this time observe your dog see how he has behaved.
If he is completely fine next time you can leave him for longer. Over time your dog will get used to spending more time at home on its own.
Should You Get A Dog Sitter?
All pet experts highly recommend you get a dog sitter if you’re going out for longer periods of time, overnight, or for a short getaway.
These dog sitters will look after your dog just how you would, taking them for walks, feeding them, and playing with their favorite toys. If you want to keep the physical and emotional needs of your dogs met at all times, consider hiring a sitter.
Alternatively, if you are going out for most of the day but don’t want to hire a dog sitter why not see if a friend or a family member could check up on your dog for you.
Every dog is different so you can expect them all to handle being left home alone in different ways. Having said that, most experts and professionals advise that you leave no dog on its own for longer than 4 hours.
When deciding how long to leave your dog on its own, you need to think about the dog, breed, age, health, exercise, and mental stimulation.
If you have thought about those things carefully then your dog will be fine.
If you need to leave your dog alone for long periods of time it might be a better idea to hire a dog sitter or ask a friend to check up on your furry family member.