Tips For Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

How do you keep your pup happy when you're not around?

Leaving your dog home alone can be challenging! Dogs see us as members of their pack but it’s not always possible to spend all of our time with our dogs. So, how do you keep your pup happy when you’re not around?

Leaving Your Dog Home Alone: How long is too long?

For the well-being of your dog, you should not leave him alone too long. Adult dogs (over 18 months) can be left alone four to six hours a day, whereas for puppies two hours a day is the limit!

House Training

Dogs that are left home alone may develop bad behaviors such as:

  • Scratching, biting or chewing on furniture and clothes
  • Binge eating 
  • Getting loose

Furniture and clothes are replaceable, but if your dog gets lost there is much more at stake! A good way to feel safer when your dog is alone is to get your dog a Tractive GPS and be alerted in real-time if he attempts to escape.

Discover now Tractive GPS

From the moment you get a dog, you should practice “Leave & Return”. Teach your pup that being home alone is OK, and that you will eventually return. Start with just a few minutes and gradually extend the length of time as your dog becomes more comfortable and as you trust your dog’s behaviour during your absence. 

Leaving your dog home alone: Things to do beforehand

When you leave the house for work or leisure without your dog, you should:

  1. Don’t give your dog free rein: Especially in the beginning, try to leave your dog in an area where he is comfortable. Only when your dog gets into the habit of being left alone at home is when he can be on his own without any restriction. 
  2. Tire out your dog: The best thing you can do before you leave your dog home alone is to give him some morning exercise. Start learning how to walk your dog so that it’s beneficial for both you and your dog. When you take your dog for a morning walk or exercise, it’s likely that your dog will pass out asleep right afterwards! This gives you the chance to leave the house without troubles.

Home Alone? Don’t forget this!

Make sure your dog has fun ways to occupy his time! A good way to keep your dog busy when he’s alone is to use food-dispensing toys instead of the classic food bowl. 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 time you’re away. 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.

When you’re back…

Dedicate some time to your pup and don’t be stingy with love and attention. How? Here’re just a few suggestions…

  •  Take your dog out for a walk
  •  Play fetch in the garden
  •  Plan a visit to a dog spa

And remember: Letting your dog stretch his legs after a day spent indoors is a great way to help him burn off some energy. On the other hand, don’t get him accustomed to receiving treats as you walk in. Your dog should know that “Leave & Return” means that there are moments during the day when he could be left alone.


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54 Comments
  1. Drew

    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. Ian

    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. Kwinten

    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. Your-Pet-Land

    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. Paul

    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. Afsana

    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. John Lawrence

    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!

  8. Michael kucera

    Excellent post!!. Great collections.. It’s really helpful to us.I follow blog for tips and guidelines.
    Dog Walking Kingston

  9. John Lawrence

    What a nice tips! Thanks for having this tips that truly helps me. There are lots of incidents that we need to leave our pet on our home. I will keep it in mind

  10. Should you Groom your Cat?

    Thank you for this wonderful tips, i can helps me a lot, now i want spend more time of my dog.

    • Sarah
      Sarah

      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

  11. Michael Williams

    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?

    • Sarah
      Sarah

      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

  12. Simran

    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

    • Christina
      Christina

      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

    • Jason

      Having a second dog to keep the other company is a bad idea. Simply because they wont keep each other company. You will simply end up with two bored dogs. These people on this site seems to be giving really bad advice, I wouldnt listen to them. I took a second, younger dog for that exact same reason and they dont play with each other. The older finds the younger one annoying and that’s all there is to it. If you want to take a second dog, do it for you, not for your dog.

      • Sanda

        Hi Jason,

        Thank you for your useful insights and for sharing your experience with us.

        Best,
        Sanda

  13. Ivy Baker

    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.

    • Laura
      Laura

      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

      • Jason

        You should never leave your dog alone with toys. Choking hazard are not just for baby humans. They are for everyone . You dont want to come bsck to your dog lifeless because he choked on a toy.

        • Sanda

          Hi Jason,

          You’re right, the choking hazard is dangerous for everyone. Thank you for your feedback!

          Best,
          Sanda

  14. Tina Winston

    I really liked your article, you have some very good tips.

    http://www.marlowinaussies.com

    • Laura
      Laura

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for your visit and your appreciation!
      Best,
      Laura

  15. Gary Persampieri

    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?

    • Laura
      Laura

      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

  16. Ruth

    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.

  17. Angie

    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.

    • Laura
      Laura

      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

  18. Swetha

    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

    • Laura
      Laura

      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

  19. Amber Butcher

    Great Post. Very useful information.

    • Laura
      Laura

      Hi Amber,
      Thanks for your comment. Keep reading the Tractive Blog!
      Best,
      Laura

  20. Micheal

    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?

    • Laura
      Laura

      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

  21. Chris

    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!!

    • Christina
      Christina

      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

  22. Dog Training Coach

    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.

    • Laura
      Laura

      Dear Reader,

      Thanks for this comment.
      Keep reading the Tractive Blog.

      Best,
      Laura

  23. Sarah

    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?

    • Christina
      Christina

      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

  24. johni

    Great lens tons of good content.Thank you for sharing

  25. Jennifer

    My husband and I found our dog in the middle of the street on June. We took her in. My husband and I work all day. My dog is home alone. She doesn’t eat and doesn’t play she only cries all day. Sometime we will have someone to come and walk her. My husband and I are thinking to find a new home for her because of that and we live in a small apartment. Please help! On what to do .
    Thanks

  26. Martha

    I really need help ok so we just got a puppy it’s our first dog but he is just 6weeks old and tomorrow will be the first time to leave him alone for a good 6-7 hours what should I do I’m scared he is in a room but not potty trained yet I don’t know please help it’s a small teacup chihuahua

  27. alia

    Great idea which you shared with us. Most of us cann’t think this type of things but we need to adopt some rules and conditions which you define in this article.https://www.homemart.co.nz/ As i know that store which is really good for pets supplies.

    • Sanda

      Dear Alia,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      Best, Sanda

  28. koibids

    Excellent Post!! It’s beneficial information for us. I will follow your blog tips.

    • Sanda

      Hey,

      Thank you for your feedback! Glad you are finding our tips helpful 🙂

      Best, Sanda

  29. Adriana

    With our busy lives, it’s natural that at times we will leave our dog at home. However, it’s not wise to leave your dog at home unsupervised without prior training. The tips that you shared are excellent and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sanda

      Dear Adriana,

      Thank you for your feedback! We are glad to help dog lovers out there.

      Best wishes to you and your furry friend,
      Sanda

  30. toys

    educational toys for 2 year olds Great post. I need buy some toys for me. Thanks for share.It is great helpful for us…!!!

    • Sanda

      Hello Toys,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      Kind regards,
      Sanda

  31. Jason

    4 to 6 hours is not realistic. People work 8 hours a day. And its just fine. Ideally, you should never leave your dog alone. So just do what you have to do to make money and gdt back to your dog first chance you have.

    • Sanda

      Hi Jason,

      That is true. Unfortunately, we have longer work hours and only some of us are lucky enough to have a workplace where dogs are allowed.
      Wish you and your furry friend all the best!

      Kind regards,
      Sanda

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