How Long Can You Leave a Dog Home Alone?
Sep 15, 2017

It’s a question everyone with a furbaby has asked at one point: ”How long can I leave my dog alone?” Whether you plan on heading out for a day trip, to work or to run errands, you may wonder whether it’s acceptable to leave your dog on his or her own for that length of time. And what happens if you don’t plan on being gone long but get delayed?

This guide will cover the basics of how long you can leave a dog home alone and what to do to make the separation a little easier on both of you.

How Long Is Too Long to Leave Your Dog Alone?

chocolate lab on a walk

When deciding whether your furry family member can be left alone all day or just for a few hours, you need to think about why dogs may have a tough time solo. Cats, it can seem, are perfectly content to stay in solitude all day. Dogs, on the other hand, are pack animals and they see you as part of the pack. This can mean they can get stressed when you leave. Dogs are also more reliant on you because they need to be let out.

An adult dog can be left alone for up to four to six hours a day, as a very general rule of thumb. However, this number can vary widely on several factors, such as:

  • Your Dog’s Training

You can train your furbaby to be less anxious when you leave. A well-trained dog may feel more comfortable being left alone for longer and may look forward to you coming home.

  • Your Own Anxiety

Let’s face it: it’s not just your furry family member you need to worry about when it comes to separation anxiety. Some dog parents just feel more comfortable leaving their furriest family members home for longer. If you feel anxiety about it, it’s something you may need to consider.

  • Your Monitoring Systems

Even small amounts of time left alone can be enough time for a dog to get into trouble. Having good monitoring systems can make you feel less anxious and can let you check in on your furbaby, ensuring they are safe even if you have to leave them alone for a longer period of time. Furbo Dog Camera is one example of a way you can monitor your dog with a two-way communication system, automatic bark alert and even a treat dispenser.

  • Your Furbaby’s Past

If your cutest family member has had anxiety or has had problems in the past, they may just not be able to hand on for a longer period alone.

  • Breed

 some dog breeds are naturally more anxious

Some breeds are just naturally more anxious. Some may have smaller bladders, meaning someone will have to drop by to let them out. Some guard dog breeds, for example, may not need potty breaks until after up to ten hours, while hounds may experience anxiety after only a few hours. You may also want to have a puppy pad on hand for any accidents, too.

  • Personality and Temperament

Even if you have a furbaby who seems like he or she would be fine for longer, each dog is different. Your dog may simply not have the personality or temperament to be left alone for hours.

  • Age

Senior dogs may need bathroom breaks more often, as often as every two hours. Older furbabies may also need more attention and may have medical conditions which require more frequent monitoring as well as regular medication, which can impact how long they can be left alone.

  • Bathroom Habits

Dogs need bathroom breaks three to five times a day, but dogs all have different habits and different bladders. Some may be able to last eight hours before needing to be let out while others can’t make it more than four. Knowing your dog can help you determine how long they can be left on their own.

 adult dogs over 18 months are fine for being left alone for hours

Puppies are a whole other story. Adult dogs over the age of 18 months may be fine for being left alone for hours, but that is not the case for babies. Young puppies need to be checked in on and taken out every two hours, especially when their bladders are still growing. Since they are still training, puppies may also just not understand why you’re gone for a while.

In general, puppies can hold their need to potty the same number of months they are. A three-month puppy, for example, may be able to hold on for three hours while a four-month puppy may be able to wait four hours. Tiny puppies of eight to ten weeks may only be able to hold on for an hour or even less. Of course, the exact amount of time they can wait will depend on several factors, such as their size and how they are developing. You will notice how often your puppy needs to go when you’re house-training them, and you can use this as a guideline.

It’s important to consider bathroom habits when determining how long your furbaby can be left alone. You don’t want accidents because you didn’t get home in time and you don’t want your dog suffering because he or she is trying to hold on to make you proud. Allowing a dog to wait too long for a bathroom break can also put your furbaby at risk of urinary tract crystals, infections and stones. To keep this from happening, make sure your furry friend isn’t left alone so long their potty breaks are too far apart.

In addition to bathroom habits, you need to consider your dog’s emotional needs. Separation anxiety can lead to drooling, depressive behaviors, attempts at escape, barking and other troubling behaviors. Furbabies who are upset with solitude can end up destroying items in your home and can end up chipping their teeth or even suffering injury as they try to figure out where you are. Not leaving your dog alone too long and leaving your dog alone correctly can help diffuse this situation and can minimize your furry friend’s risk of separation anxiety.

How to Leave a Dog Home Alone

leaving a dog alone for 8 hours can result in anxiety

Leaving a dog alone for 8 hours if you don’t know how they will react can result in anxiety, problem barking and lots of stress for your furbaby. One of the problems with leaving is that you have no way of knowing how your dog is doing. Is your furbaby largely OK with solitude and patiently waiting for your return? Are they upset?

Your furriest family member can’t just pick up the phone and tell you they’re upset, but there are a few ways you can evaluate how long your dog can be left alone before anxiety kicks in. You can have a friend or family member drop by to peek in. Your friend can let you know if your dog is barking inside the house. You can also ask neighbors to let you know if your furbaby is showing signs of stress.

An even more reliable way to check to see how your furry family is doing is with Furbo. Furbo is a two-way communication device which monitors your furbaby. You can set up the system to send you bark alerts on your phone, so you’ll know instantly if your furry family member is in distress or is trying to get your attention. Furbo has a camera so you can peek in on your dog to see how he or she is doing alone and you can even speak to them to calm them down. Furbo even dispenses treats so if your furry friend is having a rough day, you can spoil them a little bit, even if you are far from home.

Whether you are running errands or are at work, you never know what can happen while you’re gone. With Furbo, you can always check in and you can be alerted if your dog is barking or making noise. If your fur baby is doing something impossibly cute, Furbo even lets you get HD video and pictures in an instant, so you never have to miss any special moments. You can share them instantly with social media, too, so all your furbaby’s friends can admire right along with you.

How to Keep Your Dog Happy When Home Alone

family playing with german shepherd

There are a few things you can do if you need to be leaving your dog home alone while you’re at work:

  1. Train Your Dog About Leaving

You can’t just explain to your furry family member you’re leaving for a while, but you can train him or her to understand. Start by exiting your door, going through all the usual motions of leaving. Grab your keys, put on your shoes and head out. Spend a few minutes outside and once your dog is quiet, come back in. Gradually, increase the length of time you spend outside before coming in. Your furbaby will start to feel less anxiety and will get used to the routine until it becomes second nature. If you have a new pup and will be leaving for work or errands regularly, try to ease into the idea of leaving gradually, so you can train him or her.

  1. Give Him or Her Something to Do

Boredom is a very real problem for dogs who are left alone. You can alleviate this problem by leaving behind a special treat they can work on. For example, a puzzle toy with a treat that will take some work to extract will keep your furry friend busy for a while, which can make the time fly by. If you choose a toy or treat your baby gets only when you leave, it may take the sting out of solitude, too. If you’re wondering how to keep your dog entertained while you’re at work, take a look at some of the toys and treats available for dogs. You may just find the right one for your baby! Furbo is also a great way to keep playing with your furry friend, since you can continue training and can dispense treats from wherever you are by using the Furbo app on your phone.

  1. Limit Stressors

dog left home alone

If your dog tends to bark at outside sounds or tends to bark when it gets too quiet, you can get rid of some of these factors which may be getting your furry buddy upset. For example, closing the curtains and windows can reduce the tantalizing sights and sounds of outside, which may be anxiety-inducing for some dogs. Keeping a white noise machine or radio on can help some dogs feel less alone, too. You may need to experiment a bit to find the right solution for your friend.

  1. Limit the Number of Problem Areas He or She Can Access

Letting your dog roam all over the house can actually mean more upset, since your furbaby may simply go from room to room, mourning your absence. Many dogs feel more comfortable with a limited space. Placing your furry buddy in a crate or a single room while you leave can mean he or she is less likely to get into trouble. If you crate your dog, make sure the crate is in a familiar and comfortable place where he or she won’t be blasted with sun and will be cozy. Only crate your dog if he or she is used to it, or gradually get your furbaby used to a crate with short intervals of a few minutes of crate time and a healthy dose of treats. Crated dogs should not be left alone for more than four or five hours at a stretch, even if they have lots of crate training.

  1. Protect Your Most Vulnerable Family Member

Make sure you have a good system in place for keeping your dog safe when you’re not home. Carefully dog-proof your whole home and keep any dangerous items well out of reach. Have someone check on your furbaby or use Furbo to ensure you can check in to make sure your furry friend is safe and well at all times. Have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong and you can’t get home right away. This may mean putting down puppy pads or having someone drop in if you’re delayed for any reason.

  1. Call in the Experts When You Need To

if your dog suffers from separation anxiety talk to your vet

If your dog seems to suffer from separation anxiety, even when you leave for shorter periods of time, or if you have any questions about leaving your dog home while you work, talk to your vet. Your veterinarian can give you specific advice based on your furbaby’s medical history. If there are breed considerations you need to think about, or if your furry family member has a medical condition which means he or she can’t be left alone for longer periods of time, you can review this with your vet. You can also talk to a professional dog trainer if general training isn’t helping your furry friend stay calmer when you leave. A trainer can work with both of you to keep your furbaby as calm as possible. 

  1. Tire Your Dog Out First

Before you have to leave for a few hours, tire your dog out with some healthy exercise. Find out from your veterinarian how much exercise is good for your furriest family member and use this as a guideline. Exercising together helps you bond with your dog and gives you some quality time together, which can make him or her feel less lonely. Some good exercise can also tire your buddy out, so he or she may end up napping when you leave, meaning less anxiety. Exercising outside just before you leave also lets you fit in one extra potty break, which makes it easier for your furbaby to be good and wait until you get home.

  1. Have a Coming-Home Ritual

When you come home after being gone, be sure to give your dog lots of attention and love. It’s probably natural to spoil your furbaby, but make sure your coming home is a celebration your furry friend looks forward to. If possible, engage in some exercise together to get rid of any excess energy your pup may have accumulated at home.

  1. Give Your Dog Some Comfort

Your dog may appreciate having a towel or shirt that smells like you. This can be relaxing and comforting. You can also leave the TV on at low volume if your furbaby loves to watch. Furbo also allows you to talk to your dog through two-way communication while you’re at work, which can mean you can offer reassurance even if you can’t be there in person. You can even dispense treats with Furbo, which can be a great way to make your dog feel better about being alone for a bit. Comforting your dog in some way can reduce the anxiety of separation and can make it easier for him or her to wait until you get back home.

  1. Check Your Own Reactions

your dog can pick up on your emotions

Your furry friend is really smart and will pick up on your emotions. If you feel a lot of stress and upset when you leave for work or errands, your dog can pick up on that and it can make him or her more upset, too. After all, your furbaby wants you to be happy and wants to know you’re okay. Create a ritual when you leave the house so you go through the same motions and work to stay calm. Use Furbo if you need the extra peace of mind that comes with knowing your furriest family member is safe and sound while you’re away.

  1. Be Realistic With Your Lifestyle

If you have a puppy, senior dog, a smaller furbaby, a furry family member who gets upset when you leave or a dog who can’t be left alone for longer periods of time you may need to be strategic if you work full-time. If you often travel or put in long hours at work, you may want to consider your options carefully. Some fur-parents seek flexible work arrangements so they can spend part of the day at home. That helps keep furry friends healthy and happy. Other furbaby parents get their dogs sitters or take them to doggy daycare. Whatever the solution, look for options designed to work with your life. Even if you’re home a lot, consider finding a reliable sitter for when you travel or when life throws a curveball and you need to be away from home for a bit.

Making Leaving a Little Easier

order a furbo when you're gone for the day

We hope this guide has been useful in teaching you how to keep a puppy busy while at work and how long you can leave your furbaby at home alone. Remember, ongoing supervision is the best way to ensure your dog stays happy, healthy and safe. Furbo is a monitoring system, two-way communicator, problem alert system and treat dispenser that is the next best thing to being at home. If you need to leave your furry pal at home some of the time, Furbo lets you know when your friend is barking and lets you check in on your dog at any time with an HD and night vision camera. The Furbo app means you can always check in, no matter where you are.

If you have a furbaby at home, order Furbo today to keep the bond between you and your furbaby strong. Just as you have a cell phone to stay in touch with friends and family, you can use Furbo to ensure you stay in touch with your furriest family member, too.

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