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leaving your dog home alone

Tips for leaving your dog home alone

There is no doubt that your dog is happiest when you’re home. Dogs are social animals, and living in a group is part of their nature. They perceive their owners as members of their pack and want to spend time with us, watch us and help us. However, not many of us can spend all day with our dogs, although it would be great if we could. We have work, school, family, friends and other commitments in our lives. Do you feel bad about leaving your dog alone? You don’t need to as long as you follow a couple of guidelines.

How long can you leave your dog home alone?

The first guideline is actually more of a rule. For the health and well being, you should not leave your pet home alone too long. Adult dogs (those over 18 months of age) can be left alone four to six hours a day. Young puppies should not be left alone for long periods during the day – around two hours a day is the limit.

House Training

Teach your pup that being home alone is ok, that he is safe on his own and that you will come back. From the moment you get your dog, whether it’s a puppy or an adult, you have to practice “Leaving & Coming Back”. Start with just a minute or two and gradually extend the length of time as you see your dog is comfortable alone, and as you become comfortable with his behavior while you’re out of sight. Your pup should learn that being on his own is normal and safe, so give him a treat when you leave the house but not as a reward when you return.

In the beginning, it is recommended that you don’t give your dog free reign of the entire house but leave him in an area where he is comfortable. Once your dog feels safe, he can be on his own in the whole house. Make sure that your pup has mastered toilet training that you don’t come home to any accidents.

Make your dog tired

The best thing you can do before you leave your dog home alone is to give him some good, hard, morning exercise. How much exercise (and what kind) depends on your dog’s age, fitness, body type, and health. Check with your vet if you have questions about the amount of exercise for your pet. When you provide your dog with morning exercises he might flop down on his bed to snooze afterwards – giving you the chance to leave the house without troubles. For most dogs, off-leash running and sniffing are ideal, because not only do they get varied physical exercise, but mental stimulation as well.

Keep your dog busy

When you are leaving your dog home alone, make sure he has constructive ways to occupy his time when you’re not around. A good way to keep him busy is to put away his food bowl and use food-dispensing toys instead. Some of these toys offer variable difficulty levels so you can make it a long-lasting project and keep your dog active and engaged during the home-alone hours. In general, by leaving your pet small tasks and fun toys to play with when you’re not around you can avoid unwanted boredom behavior (like biting and peeing in inappropriate places). However, never leave your dog alone with a toy that could be chewed apart and swallowed.

What should you do when you come home?

When you come home, after being away for an extended period of time, be sure to show your pup some love and attention! Take your dog out for a walk and play with him. Letting your dog stretch his legs after a day inside is a great way to help him burn off some energy.

If your want to keep track of the walks you do when you are home, you can try the Tractive Dog Walk app. The free app is available for iOS and Android.

download on the app store      download on google play


Do you have experience with leaving a pet home alone? Please share your tips and knowledge!



Sarah is a Certified Fitness Trainer, pet lover and the happy owner of a 2-year-old Japanese Spitz named Bailey. Sarah spends a lot of time outdoors, running, hiking and biking. She loves inspiring Tractives all over the world with weekly pet tricks and tips.

17 thoughts on “Tips for leaving your dog home alone

  1. It’s hard leaving a puppy full of energy at home all day but these are great tips for surviving the ordeal. Your best bet is to get rid of as much energy as possible. I love making my dog do puppy pushups to tire him out. Getting him to sit and then lay down over and over again.

  2. I really like this tips! Thank you for sharing but again for me its really hard to leave our dog alone thats why I really want to have some babysitter to check my dog when, Im not on my house.

    Again thank you for sharing.. NICE TIPS!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for addressing this issue. I am currently using your tips on training my dog for me to come and leave. He is only 1 year old and was getting very upset when I was preparing to leave. Now after 2 weeks of gradually increasing the time I am gone, it’s really getting better. It never ceases to amaze me what effect consistent training can have.

    Also, I am experimenting with an interactive pet camera that allows me to see, talk and listen. It’s funny to spy on your dog when he is not suspecting anything.

  4. My seven-month-old border collie Skye has to be left for the day while we go to work, now I hate leaving her but don’t have a choice. Hope your suggestions can make her time alone a happy time. Thanks Sarah for sharing.

  5. Boredom is the cause of many issues when you leavr your dog at home. Your best option is to keep them either tired or busy. I have found a long walk before leaving them works wonders.

  6. Every now and then we face this situation while leave for a certain time and leave the dog alone at home. Thank you for sharing these nice helpful tips.

  7. Thanks for this undoubtedly great suggestion for me. I am a beginner in taking care of my new pet. I really love animals and its my time for me to take care of dogs throughout this year. Wish me luck!

    1. We are very happy about that 🙂
      Hope that it is now easier for you to leave your dog home alone. But always consider: the more time to spend with your dog the better!


  8. My daughter is leaving her dog is in cage for 10 hour a day. I think that is cruel. What can we do to change this?

    1. Hi Michael,
      10 hours per day are a long time, that’s true. Maybe you can tell me more about the reasons? Just because of her working hours?


  9. Hi Sarah me and my wife are planning to adopt a dog but we both are at work for about 9-10hrs of the day. We do have a. big room that we can use to leave the dog so that he has more room to play and stretch. We want to use the food dispenser and toys as you recommended to keep the dog busy. Do you think it will be a good idea to have an older dog around an year to 18months old and also to have 2 dogs so that they can enjoy the company of each other and not feel alone.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Simran,

      It’s so great you want to adopt! Socialising is always important for a herd animal, especially dogs. A second dog would be a great solution for providing entertainment while you and your wife are out of the house. The dogs need to be taken care of – they need to go outside and go to the bathroom possibly more often than every few hours (think about the health of the pet too).

      Best wishes,

  10. I have been considering getting a puppy and I would have to leave him home alone. So, I liked that you talked about how it would be a good idea to have toys out for him to play with. That does seem like a good way to keep him entertain and not chewing up my stuff.

    1. Hi Ivy,

      Thanks for your comment.
      I am glad you enjoyed reading this article. Leaving your dog alone is a very sensitive issue. The age, breed, and personality of your dog will help you estimating the time your pet can bare loneliness. Keeping him or her entertained is a very good way to let time pass until you are back. When you are back at home, try to make some quality time for you and your dog: this will help him or her feel comfortable again.


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