As pack animals, dogs see the owner and family as part of their pack. As such, the dog needs its pack around, though members can regularly go ‘hunt’ and ‘roam’. Your dog is okay if you leave regularly and come back, especially if you return bearing food, treats, and toys.
You can leave your dog alone overnight but there is a right and wrong way to do it. Leave enough food and water, but don’t overfeed. Toys and sounds can keep your dog occupied and relaxed. Walks are critical for exercise and relieving themselves.
A dog can get used to being alone overnight without making a fuss. However, the owners must train the dog from an early age that human absence is okay and the dog is safe. Read on to find out how best to leave your dog alone overnight.
Is It Bad to Leave My Dog Alone Overnight?
It is quite okay to leave your dog on their own overnight, but only if you have prepared them for your absence. Without proper preparation and training, leaving your dog alone can be disastrous. Some of the negative effects include:
Lacking companionship and supervision, the dog might resort to wreaking havoc on your home. They may chew up pillows, pee, and poop all over, and break cutlery and furniture.
Without social interaction, your dog may suffer from separation anxiety. Some signs include excessive barking when left alone, running away when the door is left open, and scampering around the house as soon as you leave or return.
Being social pack animals, dogs left alone might try calling out to absent or potential pack mates. They might bark and howl all night, calling out to their pack (you) to return.
Dogs can run amok when left to their own devices. For instance, they might choke around power cables, band themselves against doors when trying to follow you, or harm their teeth trying to chew their way out of the house.
Can You Leave Your Dog Alone Overnight?
You can safely leave your dog alone overnight, depending on the age of the dog and how well you have prepared them for your absence. Note that even the best trained and well-adjusted dogs may be distressed if left alone for prolonged periods. Depending on the age of the dog, here is a breakdown of the number of hours you can leave the dog on their own:
Puppy Below 18 Months
You can’t leave a puppy alone all night long. However, you can leave them alone for around two hours. Puppies need more pee breaks and need more attention.
Puppies are playful and crave affection. They need more regular feeding. Additionally, the puppy stage is the best time to start training your dog. They need more instruction, closer monitoring, and regular reward systems. It’s at this stage that you’ll be rewarding the dog with treats more frequently, and of course, more bathroom breaks from all those tasty treats.
Young Adults 18 months to 4 years
If you’ve had the dog from when they were a puppy then they’re now probably used to your regular absences. However, you should only leave them for a maximum of six hours. If it’s a dog you acquired recently and hasn’t grown up in your home, treat them as you’d treat a puppy.
Past 18 months, dogs are still playful. They probably haven’t mastered holding their pee and toilet for much longer than six hours. Luckily, they have learned to sleep at night and only wake up intermittently to switch sleeping positions.
At age 4, you can easily leave your dog alone overnight for eight hours. More well-adjusted dogs can be left for up to ten hours. On rare occasions and under ideal situations, you can leave an adult dog for much longer.
Some combined factors that make it ideal to leave your dog alone longer include:
- When you have more than one dog.
- When your dogs are outdoors and have space to run, play, and potty away from their sleeping area.
- When you live in an area where the nights are quiet.
- Where there is an abundant supply of flowing fresh water.
When dogs get to around 8 years of age their impulses and metabolism slow down. You can leave them on their own for six to even twelve hours. They can generally hold longer before potty, they eat less, are used to being alone, and play less.
However, they still need attention and affection. Be especially careful of older dogs with health issues. They might need closer monitoring and more frequent short walks to relieve themselves. If your dog is on medication, you will need to keep to schedule otherwise the medication might not work as intended.
How To Leave Your Dog Home Alone Overnight?
We all get busy sometimes and need to spend some time away from the house. When you have to leave the dog alone overnight, there are several factors you must consider:
- Neighborhood night activity levels
- Dog temperament and training
- Feeding times and potty breaks
- Exercise and dog’s activity levels
- Dog’s age and health condition
- Socialization and presence of other animals in the house
- Separation anxiety
If you determine that you can or have to leave your dog alone, follow these steps to ensure the dog’s calmness and safety:
A tired dog is a restful dog. If you can, take your dog on multiple runs in the late afternoon and early evening. Make time throughout the day to engage in playful activities such as chase and tug of war.
If you can’t do vigorous exercise, take your dog on a long leisurely walk. Choose areas with flowers and birds. The natural scents and the sights of birds will excite and mentally stimulate the dog. Mental stimulation is one sure way of helping dogs sleep better and easier.
Food and Water
Throughout the day ensure your dog has enough food and water in their bowl. The all-day vigorous exercise should help improve the dog’s appetite. You can stop feeding the dog about an hour before you leave.
If you have an automated food dispenser, then you can set it to release food about an hour before you get back home. Otherwise, the dog should survive comfortably overnight without hav9ing to eat if it has eaten well during the day.
From the moment you first get your dog you should start training them to understand that you may frequently leave them alone. More importantly, the dog should know that you will always return.
Start by leaving the dog for short periods, then gradually increase your time away. If you have never left the dog on their own before and have lived with them for months or years, training might take much longer.
In the beginning, avoid giving your dog free rein in your absence. Limit their space to a balcony or one locked room. Choose a room where they spend lots of time. However, do not leash the dogs. They can accidentally strangle themselves in your absence.
Avoid leaving the dog in a room with a street-facing window. Otherwise, the dog might bark at all moving vehicles. Similarly, avoid rooms where the dog can hear neighbors moving along corridors or the elevator doors opening and closing.
To cancel out external noises, switch on the TV. There are dedicated Dog TV channels and YouTube channels to intrigue the dog’s senses. Don’t set the TV on too loud. Dogs have great hearing plus you don’t want to disturb any neighbors. A low volume should be sufficient to mask external sounds.