Leaving your dog home can weigh heavy on the heart of a dog owner, especially if you are frequently gone for long amounts of time. How long can you leave a dog alone? The exact answer for your pup depends on many factors, including age, breed, and temperament, but Wagly Veterinary Hospital & Pet Campus wants to help you narrow down the window of how many hours a day you can safely leave your dog alone.

Figuring Out How Long You Can Leave a Dog Alone

Age is one of the most important factors to consider when thinking about how long you can leave a dog home alone while at work or having fun. According to the American Kennel Club, puppies younger than 10 weeks cannot be left alone for more than an hour. From 3-6 months, they should not be left longer than their age in months (for example, 3-month-old puppies cannot be alone for longer than 3 hours). 

If possible, dogs older than 6 months should not be left alone for longer than 4 hours at a time. If this is difficult, the absolute maximum time for them to be alone is 8 hours, but this is only recommended if your dog has a way to get outside for a bathroom break. This time frame might change depending on your dog’s age, breed, and personality. 

Special Breed and Behavior Considerations

Certain breeds that have more energy, like huskies or Australian shepherds, need a lot of exercise during the day, and leaving them alone for extended periods might lead to a meltdown that causes some serious destruction in your home. Dogs that have separation anxiety will need some human company more often than calm dogs that just relax until you come home at the end of the day. The best way to discern how long to leave your dog alone is to speak to your Wagly veterinarian

Teaching Your Dog to Be Alone

While it is important to limit the amount of time your dog is all on his lonesome, that does not mean he can never be alone. It’s actually healthy for your dog to spend some time away from you, but you might have to do a little work to get him ready for that. Teaching your dog to be comfortable alone means that you can actually leave the house. Start with short periods of time (about 10-15 minutes), and gradually increase your absences to show your dog that you will return. The following accessories can help your dog feel more comfortable alone:

  • Puzzles or other interactive toys
  • Kongs (especially with a frozen treat that can keep them entertained for hours)
  • A blanket or piece of clothing that has your scent
  • A crate 

Separate from Anxiety

Dogs that are experiencing separation anxiety while their pet parent is away from home may become destructive, try to get into locked areas of the home, or climb over fences. They may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms. Crate training is one alternative to protecting your furniture but lacks the social and environmental stimulation that helps your dog relax while you are spending quality time together. 

Christmas and many other holidays are a common time for otherwise good pets to become naughty and get themselves in trouble. New sites, smells, and interesting changes around the house may lead to unwanted and sometimes dangerous actions from pets. Cats and dogs may break ornaments or decorations, chew on electrical cords, or chew into that mystery present that might hide chocolate, nuts, or flower bulbs inside. Tree stands with water might contain dangerous chemicals that pets may ingest. Keeping your pets in a controlled daycare environment might keep you from having to re-decorate your house, buy new gifts, or have to seek help for a pet emergency during precious family time.

Daycare and Boarding Options

If it is not possible for you to get home to your dog regularly throughout the day, Wagly Veterinary Hospital & Pet Campus has daycare and boarding options to help. Our daycare allows dogs to socialize, enrich, learn, and rejuvenate while you are away, so you can be sure they are being cared for while cannot be with them. 

Whether you need short or long-term care for your dog, we have options for you. Visit our locations pages to learn more about our Blossom Hill, Lake Hills, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Tustin pet campuses today.