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Leaving your dog home alone

Tips for leaving your dog home alone

Leaving your dog home alone is not always easy, because there is no doubt that your dog is the happiest when we are around! Dogs are social animals, and for them we, as dog parents are seen as members of their pack. However, it’s not always possible to spend all the time we have with our dogs. So, how not to feel bad about leaving your dog alone? Read the following tips!

Leaving your dog home alone: ok but for a limited time

The first tip is actually some kind of a rule. For the health and well being of your dog, you should not leave him or her home alone too long.

Adult dogs (over 18 months of age) can be left alone four to six hours a day.

Young puppies should not be left alone for more then two hours a day. 

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.

What to do before leaving your dog home alone?

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. Start learning how to walk your dog so that it’s beneficial for your dog and you.

When you provide your dog with morning walks or good exercises, your dog might flop down onto his bed to snooze right afterwards! This gives 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 while you are not there

When you are leaving your dog home alone, make sure your dog 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 dog 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.


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Sarah

Sarah

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.

37 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!

      Best,
      Sarah

  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?

      Best,
      Sarah

  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,
      Christina

  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.

      Best,
      Laura

  11. Help we’ve decided to buy a German Shepherd puppy that’s 9 weeks old he’s going to have to be alone 6 hours a day what should I do?

    1. Hi Gary,

      Thanks for your comment. We think that leaving a puppy alone for 6 hours could be too much. The best idea would be to find a pet-sitter who could look after your German Shepherd puppy. Could this work for you?

      Best,
      Laura

  12. My dog is nearly 14 and has been left at home while we work for 12 years. Unfortunately he recently slipped while out for a walk and has had to have surgery on his spine. He is recovering well but has to have crate rest for 6 wks. As he is getting better he is becoming more anxious when being left any advice would be very welcome.

  13. I don’t know what to do . I have 2 cats and untill recently a cross terrier who was the centre of my world. I work 7-2 and I’m home by 2.30 I live with my brother and often he’s on late whilst I’m on early so the pup/dog not usually on own for long but occasionally we’re both on earlìes . My dog slept with me and when younger would go lots of walls between my brother and i. My brother says it wouldn’t b fair to have another dog as we work but I can’t imagine living without one. I could have an adult rescue but worry about fo4g not raised with cats or would it b ok if i had 2 pups so they would play and b company for each other.

    1. Hi Angie,

      Thanks for sharing your story with Tractive. I understand that you cannot picture a life without a dog, nevertheless having a puppy is a lot of work- as you may recall :), imagine having two young dogs at the same time.

      If I were you I would try to arrange a work schedule that could match your choice of living with a new dog (maybe having opposite times to your brother?). About introducing a dog to a cat, that’s usually easier than the opposite, but that really depends on your cat’s personality.

      Hope this helps,
      Best,
      Laura

  14. Hi, I already own a Labrador. She stays at my parents house. I moved out for job. I came across a Stray Dog. I think she has injured her left(back) leg. She limps sometimes while walking. Unfortunately I could not find her a home so I have decided to adopt her. While surfing I came across your post. Its very informative. Thank you.

    My only concern is I Work 10 hours a day and i Live alone. I will have to leave her alone. With regards to bathroom training I am thinking to train her to do it outside while i take her for small walk and use the toilet (a separate toilet tat I have at home) during her alone time. Please help me with few others tips to make her comfortable

    1. Hi Swetha,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Tractive. It seems you really are a dog-lover! I imagine you have gained a lot of experience about dogs just by living with your Labrador. Now, if you have adopted a Stray Dog, he or she may need some extra care (you are always unsure about his or her background before he joined your lovely household 🙂 ). You could either ask a friend or a person you trust in to check on your dog while you are away, or thinking about bringing your Stray Dog to your parents’ when you are not at home. Either way, I suggest that you proceed with care and that you allow your dog some time before adjusting to new situations. In other words: take it slow 🙂 !
      Thanks for your comment and keep reading the Tractive Blog!
      Best,
      Laura

  15. Hey I currently have two dogs who keep each other company. They are trained to use the pads and we walk them three- four times a day (morning, afternoon, evening). We are thinking about getting (rescuing) another puppy, maybe a larger dog (right now we have two bichons). The bichons currently are left together between 4-7 (max) hours a day. Would this arrangement work if we get another dog like a corgi or a husky assuming they get along with our two current dogs?

    1. Hi Micheal,

      Thanks for your comment. This arrangement could work. Nevertheless, a corgi and a husky are not the same kind of dog. A corgi would work better for you and would get along easier with your two bichons. It may not be a matter of personality, but of energy levels. The husky needs to move a lot more than a corgi and would not feel happy if he has to stay in for 4-7 hours. The corgi’s energy level is slightly more comparable to the ones of your two dogs, hence the match would work better.

      I hope this works. In the meantime I send you lots of luck with your decision.
      Thanks for your comments, keep reading the Tractive Blog.

      Best,
      Laura

  16. Hey,
    I just recently rescued a gorgeous 2 1/2 year old pointer mix from getting put up for adoption. She is a friendly loving well behaved dog. Never any accidents (unless she gets overly excited), and only chews her toys really. But I do have plants in my apartment and I fear leaving her uncrated, even though she has never showed interest in eating them. I have left her for like 2-3 hours before and she was a great girl. My question is since I live alone, would she be okay if I left her alone from say 7:30am-12:15pm. This is when I come home for lunch and take her for a walk and play with her for about 20 minutes combined. I then return to work until about 5:15pm. I then spend the rest of the night taking her for walks, playing with her and cuddling. I feel really guilty about crating her because she’s never given me a reason to crate her. I just worry that she could somehow find a way to get in trouble (ie chewing a rope toy and gagging on it) Any insight would be awesome!! Thanks in advance!!

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Tractive. I think that leaving your dog alone for this long period could be too much. The best idea would be to find a pet-sitter who could look after your Pointer Mix. Another suggestion is to remove all the toxic plants and maybe you should think about a Tractive GPS Tracker, which can help you to give you a better feeling of safety. Could this work for you?

      Best,
      Christina

  17. Keeping dog busy and house training will be a great for dog. It is not ease to drop dog at home. Also dog owner can feel insecure while they are going out. These tips will help them surely.Thanks for the great content.

  18. I am thinking of getting a cavachon puppy. It is going to be my 15 year old boys dog. I am going to get it hopefully in the summer so that my son is home to train the pup and I will have some holiday so we will give about 8 weeks fully there to train. After that pup will have to be left alone for 7 hours 4 days per week. Was thinking of crating but pup going to sleep in sons room at night. Does this sound reasonable?

    1. Dear Sarah,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience with Tractive. When your pup feels comfortable to sleep in your son’s room, then it is okay. However, I would not recommend to leave your dog alone at home for 7 hours. This is definitely too much. Keep regarding the Tractive Blog .

      Best,
      Christina

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