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How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?

Is it alright to leave a dog alone for a long time? And how long is a “long time”? Or a “short time”? For dogs, there’s nothing better than being with their two-legged friends. They really don’t like it when their “pack” is split up. They start to bark, chew up shoes, destroy the couch, lick themselves raw or even go to the bathroom on the floor if there’s nobody to take them for a walk.

Separation Anxiety

It’s common for dogs to develop serious anxiety when their masters leave. “How long until they come back?” “Are they ever coming back?” “What if they never come back?” Anyone getting a pet dog would be doing themselves a favor by taking their pet to behavioral school. They’ll give you helpful tips on how to deal with your dog so that they don’t develop this kind of anxiety. In serious cases, it can be a good idea to visit a dog trainer or psychologist.

Beagle Beagle - Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

How Do I Make My Dog’s Alone Time More Enjoyable?

Challenging toys are perfect. Like a plastic Kong toy, which you can fill with tasty treats. To get to its treats, the dog has to think and try out different approaches. This will keep it busy.

Can I Leave My Dog in the Garden?

Sadly, no. Your dog could try to jump over the fence and injure itself. Or dig a tunnel in the ground and ruin the whole garden.

When You Come Back ...

It’s important to give your dog your full attention when you come home. Stroke it, play with it, comb its fur. Exercise is the best. There’s nothing like leaving the house and going for a walk, or maybe even a round of fetch. The busier a dog is, the more likely it is that it will cope with being alone.

Does the Dog’s Age Make a Difference?

Yes! Puppies are especially needy when it comes to company and being near their masters. They should be left alone as little as possible. Young dogs from around 5 months old can slowly get used to spending more time alone. But even when you have an adult dog: never leave them alone for longer than 4 hours, because it’s important that your dog is happy. Please note: how long it takes for a puppy to grow up can differ from breed to breed.

The following table will give you a rough idea:

Dog Time
Puppy (under 5 months) Never leave alone, or only for short times
Young dog (5-18 months) Slowly increase
Adult dog (over 18 months) Up to 4 hours a day
Not All Dogs Are the Same

Each dog has its own personality and has had different experiences in its life. So, how long you can leave your dog alone for will depend on your dog. The dog should never be punished if it destroys or dirties something because it was lonely. It’s the human’s job to provide better conditions.

This article is only for information purposes only and does not come with a guarantee. If you have any questions about keeping a pet dog or your dog’s behavior, contact a trained specialist such as a veterinarian, animal trainer or animal psychologist.