If you're a new dog parent, it can be hard to leave your furry friend behind when head to work. However, leaving your dog home alone for some period of time is unavoidable — but, how long can you leave your dog alone at home when you have to? While your pup is definitely your bae and they might feel like your baby, one of the best things about dogs is that, unlike human babies, they can stay home alone. However, the amount of time you can leave your four-legged child home alone depends on things like its age, breed, and whether or not your pup has separation anxiety.
Even if your dog doesn't mind hanging out in the house by itself, dogs do need regular potty breaks, and this is an important thing to factor in when deciding how long to leave your pop alone. According to Rover.com, puppies (and only puppies) need to pee one hour for each month they age: For example, a pup that is three months old needs to pee every three hours. Adult dogs can wait between six and eight hours between potty breaks, and senior dogs might need a pee break every two to six hours.
These are just guidelines, and you will get to know your dog better than anyone else. Armed with the information about your dog's potty schedule and personality, you can make an educated decision about how long is too long for your dog to be home alone. Because, every dog is different.
"Of course, the above estimates vary depending on a dog’s size, health, and habits. But any dog forced to hold their urine for too long is at risk for urinary tract infection, stones, or crystals," Rover.com explained. "Plus, holding urine for too long is just plain uncomfortable, and can lead to accidents in the house."
If you work from home and your dog is used to having you around all of the freakin' time, you might want to stay away no longer than four hours. However, this doesn't mean you have to give up everything to become a stay-at-home pup parent — these days you can call on a lot of people to help you get Fido out for a potty break and some exercise. From apps to neighborhood dog walkers to friends, there is always a way to make sure your dog isn't home alone too long.
"For safety and comfort’s sake, provide a potty break ever four to six hours," Rover.com advised. "Standard work days are eight-to-10 hours long, so if you can’t swing home at lunch to take the dog out, hire a dog walker for worry-free care."
If you have a dog with separation anxiety, leaving them home alone can be even more difficult. In an article written by Torquay And Surfcoast Veterinary Clinic for the Surf Coast Times, Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gittings offered a few tips for calming an anxious pup before you leave the house.
"It is very important not to make a big deal of departures (or arrivals). This anticipation can create great anxiety for pets, something vets treat often. However, if we make it a non-event, then our pet also will also see it this way," she explained. "When leaving, say your goodbyes well before you go, provide entertainment as you leave, helping to create a positive start to their time alone."
Make sure your dog has access to fresh water, shelter, and toys. If you have an anxious pup, having a dog walker come by can really help ease your mind. It's a treat for your dog too, because it helps break up the day, and allows them to burn off some of that anxious energy.
If leaving your canine bae home alone causes too much anxiety for you — and if you can afford it — consider taking your dog to a doggy daycare. If you don't have the funds for that, check with friends who have dogs and take turns dog sitting for one another if you're going to be gone all day. It's also worth asking if you can bring your dog to work with you as many offices are now dog friendly.
Another option is getting a doggy cam, which is basically a nanny cam for dogs. This will let your check in on your fur baby throughout the day. Some doggy cams can even dispense treats, which gives your pup something to look forward too.
One way I make sure my dog is comfortable while I'm gone is to create a safe space. This is called the bye-bye room, which is actually just my bedroom. You can put your dog in the bye-bye room with water, toys, and music until you get home. If you live in a studio apartment, a large soft-sided create is also a good option. However, it really depends on what you and your dog are comfortable with.
Some dogs feel less anxious in smaller spaces while others feel trapped. Before you leave Fido in the bye-bye room or crate all day, test it out by taking short trips to make sure this solution works for both of you. Additionally, make sure your dog knows you're aways coming back and that your being away is no biggie. Make a big production when you come home, but don't do it right away.
"Upon [arriving] home take five minutes before any big greetings, regardless of how happy you both are to see each other after a long day," Dr. Gittings recommended. "Therefore your return does not symbolize the end of their alone time, and leave them awaiting this all day."
The most important thing to remember is that dogs are social animals. If you are gone all day, take your pup on a long walk in the morning and when you get home. Dogs need exercise and they like to socialize, even if it's just walking past other people on the street.
"Whether it’s a training session, exciting neighborhood walk, puzzle feeder, or a round of indoor games, enrichment activities help keep your dog healthy, and balance out the time she spends alone," Rover.com explained.
While there's no hard and fast rule about how long you can leave your pup alone, it really boils down to making sure all of your dogs mental and physical needs are met before you head out. If your dog is satisfied, staying home alone is no big thing.