A common question among pet parents is how long is too long to leave your dog alone?
Unfortunately, there is no short answer to this question as many factors can affect it. However, if you follow these guidelines your dog will be sure to thank you.
When trying to decide how long to leave your dog alone age is an important factor to take into consideration. For puppies, a good rule of thumb is that they can hold their bladders for one hour for every month old they are up to 8 hours. This means if you have an 8 week old puppy, he will need to be let out every 2 hours.
Senior dogs can also start having trouble holding their bladders, so if your dog is beginning to show signs of potty problems consider installing a dog door or putting puppy pads down for him to use when you are away from the house.
If you have a high energy dog, eight or more hours alone in a crate can be overwhelming. To combat your dog’s excessive energy and help him make it through a day alone try getting him lots of exercise in the morning. A long jog or a trip to the dog park is a great way to start your day off right—your dog will be worn out and you will be energized and ready to start your day at work.
If your dog is a couch potato, chances are he is more than happy hanging out at home while you are at work. Make sure he has a comfy place to sleep and some soothing music and he will be ready to nap the day away.
If your dog is under the weather or currently on medications, you may need to let him out more often than you normally would. Some medications like prednisone can cause increased thirst and urination, and others may cause diarrhea or upset stomach. If this is the case for your dog, a trip home from work every 3-4 hours would be welcomed by your pet.
No matter how old, active, or healthy your dog is there are a few things you can do to keep your dog occupied while you are away from the house.
Kong toys are a great activity for dogs of all ages. These toys are durable and easy to stuff full of treats, so they can keep your dog busy for hours. When I stuff my dog’s Kongs, I use a mixture of peanut butter, dog food, and low sodium beef or chicken broth.
Having soothing music or the television on can also be a great distraction for your dog. Just be sure not to leave it on anything to distressing.
I once read on a dog forum that an owner had left the radio on for her dog because he was afraid of storms, and when she got home he had an accident in his crate and was shaking. It turned out that she had put the radio on a nature channel and they were playing thunderstorm sounds on the radio. This had caused her dog even more anxiety than he would have had with just the storm outside.
Another great option if you are away from home for long hours is a dog walker. You can find great dog walkers on pet sitting websites and many are reasonably priced and extremely knowledgeable about dogs. If you decide to have a dog walker I suggest doing a meet and greet before hand so your dog isn’t freaked out by there being a stranger in the house when you aren’t home.
Regardless of how long you think your dog will be able to manage without you, always keep in mind that the longer you are gone the more they miss you. Be sure to give your dog plenty of one-on-one time, exercise, and affection when you spend time with them.