A lot of dogs can handle time alone at home, with the owners gone. It all depends on whether their needs are taken care of and how well the dog handles separation.
Depending on your dog’s age, temperament, and breed, you can leave your dog alone at home for eight hours and more. Additionally, the environment in your home dictates whether your dog will be safe and comfortable for long periods on their own.
You can leave your dog alone if needs such as food, water, and play are met. However, most dogs still cherish their human’s love and affection. Hence, food, water, and leashed walks are barely enough.
Is It Cruel to Leave a Dog Alone All Day?
Dogs are social animals and being alone can be stressful for some of them. Because of work and school schedules, most dogs grow up used to being along for the better part of their daily lives.
Consider that a typical dog owner has to work for say eight hours five days a week. The work involves commuting and the person has to do errands, attend social events, and even occasionally travel away from home.
This means there are many dog owners who leave their dogs daily for more than ten hours each day. If there are no family members, the dog spends these hours alone. So routinely leaving your dog alone all day long is not at all uncommon or cruel.
However, when you leave your dog on their own for such long periods you need to cover their needs. In your absence, the dog will need the following:
A three-meals-per-day could be ideal, but most dogs thrive on two meals a day set 12 hours apart. For decades, trainers would recommend feeding your dog only once a day. However, some veterinarian professionals explain that when more than 12 hours pass between meals, the dog’s stomach may become hyperacidic and cause nausea.
Your dog needs fresh drinking water throughout the day, otherwise, they risk becoming dehydrated. Dogs need approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. So, if you have a 10-pound dog then you need to provide slightly over one cup of fresh drinking water.
Play allows dogs to socialize, build confidence, sharpen skills, exercise, and bond. Without play, dogs may develop behavioral issues. Additionally, they may develop health problems such as obesity, arthritis, and heart disease. Young puppies typically need more playtime than adult dogs.
For most dogs, a leashed walk won’t be enough physical activity. Depending on age, breed, and energy levels, dogs need:
- 30 to 60 minutes of rigorous physical activity per day.
- Attention and affection from the owner and human family members.
- Mental stimulation through new experiences.
- Creating a disciplined routine if you schedule play for the same time each day.
Is 8 Hours Too Long to Leave a Dog Alone?
Eight hours can be too long to leave a dog alone if some needs are not met, especially for young puppies. If you want to leave your dog on their own for eight hours or longer, adequate preparation would mean:
Exercise Before You Leave
Dogs are diurnal creatures, meaning they’re most active in the early morning before the sun gets too hot and, in the evening, when it’s cool but not yet too dark outside. If you’re leaving for work in the morning, engage your dog (and yourself) in a high-energy workout. A tired dog is a happy dog.
With the exercise done, take your dog on a leash walk or to its potty area. Give the dog time to relieve itself several times. Within 5 to 10 minutes the dog should have completely defecated though puppies may need more time.
Some dogs have a love for overturning the garbage or chewing electric cables. Keep anything dangerous such as small toys, medications, trash cans, and wires locked away.
As you remove hazardous materials, replace them with safe toys. Chew toys are especially useful for teething pups. You can add food puzzles to keep the dog busy and well-fed throughout the day.
Leave on a TV or stereo for your dog at low volume. The low sound helps to calm the dog and masks outside sounds such as neighbors walking along apartment corridors.
Don’t Make a Fuss
Take control of your emotions and leave quietly. Don’t act sad or nervous as you leave. Dogs can catch on to your sad feelings and associate your leaving with bad experiences. Don’t act excited either as the dog will want the play to continue and your sudden leaving may leave it anticipating and anxious.
Instead, find a toy or something to occupy the dog’s attention then leave normally. Don’t hide, just make your exit as nonchalant as possible.
Some dogs are best left inside a confined space. Contrary to what humans view as imprisonment, dogs actually love their crates. Rather than as a prison cell, learn to see the dog’s crate as their own private room, but with a 360-degree view.
However, only crate the dog if you know you usually get back before they have to potty.
How Long Can a Dog Be Alone at Home?
There are several factors that determine how long your dog can be alone at home:
Is your dog used to you being away on a regular basis? If so, then your dog has gotten used to your routine. They won’t worry unless you stay beyond your expected time of return. Dogs can be very good time keepers. If you usually leave for 10 hours each day, they’ll be patient and wait.
Potty & Walks
Dogs need to relieve themselves away from their play and living quarters. They especially love outdoor walks where they can relieve themselves far from home. If your dog feels their walk time is due or past, they can become restless.
Keep to a schedule for their walks and they will hold their potty till you get back. Adult dogs can hold for up to 12 hours. Puppies need to relieve themselves every couple of hours. Young adults two to four years old may need three to five hours. Adults can be left for eight hours before the need to potty. Smaller breeds need to go more regularly than larger breeds.
Dogs are sociable animals and they view you as a member of their pack. When they don’t see you around, they worry. As diurnal animals, they will want to see you at their most active times. If you leave in the morning, it’s best if you return at dusk or early evening.